Target Walleye/Ice email

Near record perch, Burbot wins truck, Rattlebait walleyes tricks

Today’s Top 5

Near state-record perch caught in ND!

Came across this post from fish-junkie Ray Welle over on the Instagramz:

> Ray: “I got to witness a close to — or could possibly be — a new ND state record perch. …was an absolute beast! Congrats to the young man that caught this thing. It was 2.8 lbs on a handheld scale…I told him to weigh it on a certified scale….”

Insane fish no matter where you’re from — except maybe Europe.

Did some digging and found the current ND state record went 2-lbs 15-oz (15″) and outta Devils Lake by Kyle Smith back on Mar 28, 1982. Couldn’t find a picture or story on it, so if you’ve got one, hit me up.

Invasives slow walleye growth up to 14%?   

That’s according to this study talkin’ zebra mussels and spiny water fleas:

> “Both invaders reduce lake levels of zooplankton, an important food source for young walleye. Zebra mussels act as filters, reducing the amount of algae in the water…a food source for zooplankton. Spiny water flea eat zooplankton directly.”

Makes total sense (to me) that the little’uns would be havin’ a harder time putting together a meal…but I really wouldn’t think invasives are slowing the growth of adult fish, too? Maybe. Who knows? I don’t.

Oddly enough, I have noticed that the fishing seems to be getting BETTER on lot of these lakes infested with zeebz and whatnot. That being said…

…zeebz come in and change the whole ecosystem of the lake. “My grandpa used to catch ’em here” will only work for so long — fish aren’t going to be in the same spots they used to be. That goes for whether you’re trying to catch ’em with a rod, or survey ’em with a net or trap.

Why? Zeebz filter the water, which increases water clarity and allows vegetation to grow deeper. So the fish are typically moving deeper — or sometimes pushing WAY up farther, burying in the weeds — and so should you. Clearer water can also make fish “more smarter.”

Okay, now I’m getting waaaay off topic compared to the original write-up. Just some random somewhat-related thoughts I felt like spewin’…. Take ’em for what it’s worth, which isn’t much! Lol.

Best rattlebaits for Lake Winnipeg walleyes (BONUS tricks). 

Not sure there’s a more fun way to catch walleyes than rippin’ a rattlebait! In this vid I talk about a few baits I never leave home without when heading up to Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg, along with some tricks for fishing ’em.

I use the same techniques on a lot of other lakes ’round home too…just usually like to downsize the rattlebaits to something a little more edible the clearer the water is.

Btw all the gear I used (sizes, weights, rods, reels, you name it) is linked in the vid’s description. Hope you dig it!

Greasy 8-lb burbot wins a new truck!!!  

The Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake, MN had 10,000+ people fishing — for over $150K in prizes — the largest charity ice fishing tourney in the world.

Get this: It was Warren Arnold’s first time EVER ice fishing…and the first fish he caught was an 8.29-lb burbot that won him a brand-spankin’-new GMC truck. Oh, and love this dude’s expression:

Warren said he setup a shiner on a deadstick in 8-9′ when things got greasy. Just how greasy?

Love it.

I was there fishin’ the derby with my fam-bam too. Set up shop out deep and tried the go-big-or-go-home tactic of pounding bottom with a massive Trout-N-Pout Spoon…hopin’ for a big burbot.

Of course I didn’t catch anything, but makes my all warm and fuzzy inside knowing it was ultimately a big, B-E-A-utiful burb that got it done.

Big congrats man!

Parenting done right!

From fish-recycler Teeg Stouffer’s Instagram — pic his kiddo brought home from school the other day:

How cool is that?! No doubt following in his dad’s footsteps. Teeg said:

> I remembered that I once got the explicit writing assignment to write about “anything OTHER than fishing.”

Been there, man! All those “real-life video games” will get to ya:

Keep doing your thing!


1. AB CAN: Massive fish-trafficking ring stopped.

> “A 2-year undercover investigation into the illegal trafficking of 12,000 lbs of whitefish and walleye in northern and central Alberta has led to 80 charges against 33 people.

> “Fish were allegedly trafficked after being illegally killed in Lesser Slave Lake and nearby Winagami Lake. The investigation revealed a network of illegal killers and buyers of fish.”

2. MN: Some shallow lakes might get “winterkill” again.

Thx to all the slush and deep snow on top of the ice in the northern part of the state. Down in the Metro, not so much.

If you’ve never heard of a “winterkill” it’s when fish suffocate from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals. Looks bad, but is completely normal and often necessary.

Btw if your favorite little gem suffers from a winterkill, come back in 4-ish years and you might just find some of the best fishing you’ve ever had for bigger-than-average fish….

3. ND: Devils Lake and Stump Lake creel survey out.

Some interesting info on the # of “angler hours” and fish kept from each species in Brad Dokken’s write-up here.

Thought it was interesting that overall fishing pressure was down, but:

> Clerks encountered anglers from 32 states besides ND and a few from CAN. More than half of the anglers interviewed on Devils Lake (50.3%) were nonresidents. In the last survey, 41.5% of the anglers interviewed were non-residents…. That’s been creeping up every survey.

Does that mean us out-of-towners are scaring all the locals off? My guess is a bunch are hitting some of the other flooded, freshwater-shrimp-stuffed gems right there nearby that fly under the radar…. 😉

4. MN: $20K for the biggest fish caught…

…at the Fishing for Ducks tourney on Mille Lacs Feb 15:

> …the largest Ducks Unlimited event in the nation. Last year about 4,000 people attended enjoying fishing, food, prizes and music on the frozen lake. …raised $200K [!] for wetlands conservation.

Awesome cause that dishes out over $100K in cash + prizes.

Wonder if they pay anything out for the biggest duck?

5. ND: Nearly 5,000 folks hit Devils Lake…

…for the 36th Annual Volunteer Fire Dept Fishing Tournament. Proceeds from the tourney are used to buy equipment for the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Dept = awesome.

6. NY: Oneida’s historic Cleveland dock getting $1-mil reno.

Starting late this winter. The head-to-toe facelift is supposed to look something like this:

Hope they get more than 1 car there.

7. WI: Lake Monona and Starkweather Creek slapped with…

…a fish-consumption advisory. ‘Cuz fish were found to “contain hazardous chemicals known as PFAS, found in some firefighting foam and various consumer products.” Sounds…delicious?

8. New Freedom Tackle Blade Bait is out.

Looks filthy good:

Can be rigged 3 different ways, including:

> …the ability to rig the double hook on the top of lure head and lock it into place on the custom design hook notch. This allows anglers to tap the nose of the lure on rocky bottoms without the fear of hang-ups…a preferred presentation for whitefish and lake trout through the ice.

Got ’em in stock now right here.

9. WV: Clendenin rebuilding local economy with trout.

The area’s still recovering from a nasty flood in 2016. They’ve dumped 1,350 lbs of rainbow trout into the Elk River hoping “it will bring more fishermen into the area, and that will help revitalize the local economy.”

10. CO: Endangered humpback chub making a comeback?

One of 4 endangered native species in the Colorado River system they’re trying to keep walleyes away from. #NomNomNom

> …now lives in 5 isolated pockets from the Grand Canyon up to central UT. Officials believe those stable populations are enough to stave off extinction, for now. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed reclassifying the fish from endangered to threatened.

Honestly, my first thought = would love to pull one on a Lindy Rig ’round here in Sept or Oct: Highlights

> Lithium battery rant, Panfish baits for ‘eyes, Ice tourney secrets

> Walleye locations now, DIY truck rod holder, Hilarious ice vid

> Roach dropshots on ice, Fattest ‘eye ever, Spooning crappies

Note: The FishUSA links in this email are affiliate links, meaning if you go through them to make a purchase we might earn a commission…at no cost to you. Click here if you want to learn a little more about links in TW.

Tip of the Day

How to catch the chubbiest crappies from a school.

No doubt lipless cranks are all the rage when it comes to catching mondo walleyes through the ice, but you might wanna consider playing with ’em for BIG crappies too…. Few tips below on how HSM Outdoors’ Chad Peterson sniffs out the chubbiest specks from the batch:

> During the ice season, you will have opportunities when the crappies are riding high in the water column (especially on overcast days!) when you see that, you better break out the Chubby Darter. The crappies are normally feeding and are very aggressive, as the slow wobble of the Darter approaches the target zone.

> Sometimes you won’t make it to the targeted zone, because they will have raced up to the lure — those are the best bites and normally the bigger, more aggressive fish of the school. So, where do we look?

> …deep breaklines or over the deeper basins are the high-percent areas to find schools of crappies. Just scouting these areas will provide good opportunities to see high-riding crappies that are easy to graph…typically it’s bluegills that are near the bottom. If you’re not marking fish — keep moving and drilling!

> Other overlooked areas include shallow flats with weed patches where crappies and bluegills like to hold, and feed. …I’m typically looking for 7-13′ depending on the water clarity.

> Your approach should be a little different when using the Chubby Darter in the shallows…try fishing it just 2-3′ below the ice for those aggressive up-feeders. One of my favorite parts about this shallow-water bite is you can often sight fish them and see how they react to the action of the Darter.

The Salmo Chubby Darter is no secret — invented in 2002 and has been harassing fish for 18 years now. But if you haven’t heard, they just dropped 6 new fish-sexy colors this ice season:

Quote of the Day

“You go out there at night, and it looked like downtown Minneapolis.”

– That’s a dude talking about all the wheelhouses lit up with their “fancy lights” on Lake of the Woods. Pretty interesting read ’bout the growing popularity of wheelhouses and how it’s changing things.

Might be more “shacks” than usual up on Lake of the Woods right now ‘cuz it’s one of the few areas ’round northern MN that didn’t get hammered with all that snow right away…so they’ve made a ton (2-3′) of good ice.

Cool thing about LOW is there’s a ton of room to spread out, and plenty of ‘eyes + sauger to go around. Not sure there is such a thing as a slow day of fishin’ up there — maybe by local standards, but they’re spoiled lol.

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Makin’ memories one Phantom Budzo at a time:

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