Target Walleye/Ice email

Okada grinds hard, Walleye cotton candy, Scattered fish tip

Today’s Top 5

“It’s so hard on your brain to make this bite work.”

That’s walleye pro Joe Okada talkin’ about his go-BIG-or-go-home strategy that landed him in 2nd place at the Green Bay NWT.

Had a 36.76-lb bag on day 2 despite only catching 4 fish! Stuck 3 of those in the last 40 minutes and lost a fourth that likely coulda pushed him over the top. Earned himself a $24,570 payday for physically and mentally grinding it out:

He ran 25-ish miles north of Marinette and focused on small, isolated rockpiles in 10-15′. Was throwing a lipless crankbait that his wife painted in a goby pattern [!]…would cast it out as far as possible and make long, subtle strokes, while continuing to contact the bottom.

Joe also said:

> “You can’t take no for an answer when you commit to an area. If you get 5 bites, you can win, but you can also come in with nothing. There isn’t a school of fish. I never once saw multiple fish on a pile. It’s really not a pattern…it’s a patience game.

> “I never take a good finish for granted, even if it’s not the finish I really wanted. I like the challenges Green Bay presents every time we go. And it’s getting more and more challenging every time we go.

> “The most important lesson from a tough, gamble tournament is to have patience and confidence. You have to have confidence that every cast is the cast, the kind of cast that changes the trajectory of the whole day. It’s not easy to stay engaged with that kind of a bite. I had a 6-hour dry spell today. When you’re going through that, you have to learn to refocus your brain.”

Seriously impressive finish, dude! No doubt your day will come soon and often.

Pull 3-way rigs for scattered walleyes.

Pulling 3-way rigs is probably best know as coldwater technique, but can also be a great way to cover water for scattered walldawgs as things start warming up. If you’re not familiar with 3-way rigs, it all starts with a 3-way swivel like this one made by Eagle Claw. #OriginalFidgetSpinner

Lots of great info on the technique in guide Dave Shmyr’s full write-up on, few excerpts below:

> During the migration to summer-time holes, walleye are often very spread out…but willing to bite. Have to cover ground at different depths…at the same time keeping lures near the bottom.

> The best success I’ve had during this stage is on a 3-way rig with shallow-diving crankbaits. Traditionally walleye fishermen would long-line troll, but during this time you have far too many depths/areas to cover. My go-to lures are the Bagley Minnow B and Rapala Original Floaters. …match the size and color to the primary forage….

> [Look for] slow-tapering flats/drops adjacent to spawning areas and deep holes. Shallow rocky shorelines are also overlooked spawning areas that supply key transition spots adjacent to them…by far your highest-percentage area hands down!

> I prefer 7.5′ to 8.5′ MH rods: If your rod’s in the holder, there’s a lot more absorption for strikes…also gives you the ability to make tighter turns in awkward hooksetting positions. Keeping your lines further away from the boat can be a huge factor if fish are “boat spooky.”

> Couple different starter options I use faithfully are the 7’10” Okuma Dead Eye Bottom Bouncer and Shimano Clarus 8’6″ MH fast-action. Both extremely versatile for other situations as well (spinner rigging, slow-death and casting crankbaits). Extremely light rods, which is important for long days of trolling.

> I spool my reels with 10- to 15-lb braid to the 3-way swivel. Using braid rather then mono or fluoro allows you to make sure your crankbait is running properly and you haven’t picked up any debris.

> Run 12-18″ of 10-lb fluoro from your swivel to a 2-oz bell sinker — it’s a lot cheaper to replace a bell sinker then a crankbait if you snag up.

> From the 3-way swivel to your crankbait, you want to run 3-5′ leader of 10- to 15-lb fluoro. I base my line size depending on abundance of pike in the area.

> Make sure that after hitting bottom, you let out a little more line to maintain bottom contact with your bell sinker. I vary my speeds all day long from 1.2-2.2 mph — always taking a note when getting a strike.

Keep reading the full write-up here.

Wally-mammoths of the week!

Matt Borraro (@mattborraro) stuck his new PB walleye with this 31″ male [?!] from an ON river. Said they could tell it was a male ‘cuz it wasn’t helping to pick up around the house was milking in the boat. Caught drifting down river — and using the trolling motor to slow down the drift — with big 1-oz jigs to keep the baits vertical:

Looks like @urds1406’s got a new addition to the fishin’ fam…a Fort Peck, MT 31-incher that scarfed a jig and minnow. #Shoulders

Mark Manzanares’ better-er half Stephanie plucked this 32.5″ [!] once-in-a-lifetime fish outta Lake Superior dragging homemade ‘crawler harnesses on 12-lb Sufix Advance Mono:

Sure makes getting up at 4:30 am that much easier:

“Cotton candy used to only be available at tractor pulls and state fairs….

– That’s the B-Fish-N Tackle crew talkin’ about their new “cotton candy” color AuthentX plastics. Here’s a look at it in the always-fishy Pulse-R.

*Warning: Not for human consumption (lol):

New baits/colors always got me like… #SugarRush

Here’s a few other AuthentX colors you probably shouldn’t try eating yourself, tempting as they may sound:

1) Peanut butter and jelly,

2) Honey oil glitter,

3) Pink bubblegum pepper,

4) and for sure stay away from firecracker!

Another fishy DIY hack.

Here’s one for you guys putting on a ton of miles — how MT walleye guide Dale Gilbert keeps his Lund boat cover from wearing where it rubs against the windshield:

> When [the wire loom] is snug on the full windshield, the cover doesn’t rub on fittings or snaps. Usually 1.25″ or 1.5″ diameter does the job.


1. MN Fishing Challenge raised more than $341K [!]…

…for MN Adult & Teen Challenge drug and rehabilitation programs statewide. This family-friendly tourney (on Gull Lake) has now raised more than $2.2 mil since 2009! #Stout

You’ll never guess who won the walleye division…okay, maybe you will….

TW’s Al Lindner and Jim “JK” Kalkofen had a 3-fish bag of 14.17 lbs (only 2 fish allowed over 20″ per the state regs). Mostly caught ’em in 6-10′ with VMC Neon Moon Eye Jigs and paddle tails — believe JK was throwin’ the Impulse Paddle Minnow. Nicely done, fellas!

Asked where they caught ’em and both just looked at me with this kinda face:

2. MN: Mille Lacs regs have emotions runnin’ high.

Walleye switched to a catch-and-release-only season again as of Jun 1….

I’m sure that can be tough on resorts since apparently some people ONLY like to fish for food and not fun? But man…every time I’m at Mille Lacs the accesses are freakin’ packed!?!

3. MN: Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic…

…happenin’ tomorrow on Lake Bemidji.

4. Mustad is looking to buy more companies.

Just bought Tuf-Line and:

> Mustad is seeking to expand its footprint from a leading fishing hook brand in Europe and North America to a global fishing products platform. The company is seeking to continue making transformative acquisitions in the fishing space with a core focus on geographic expansion into the US market through strategic acquisitions of large and established bait and tackle businesses.

5. You seen the Lunkerhunt Leech yet?

Hard to find, but FishUSA just got ’em in stock and has a sale going. Bait has a neutral buoyancy that’s tough to describe in words. Check how tasty the “meat locker” color looks:

6. Yar-Craft expanded their facility.

Will allow ’em to increase production by 40%.

7. IA: No-wake restriction on Lake Manawa.

The water level is 12″ above crest, so gotta keep yer rig below 5 mph.

8. WI’s hand pluckin’ invasives?

9. MN: 2nd annual Blackfish Classic tournament.

New-ish bass derby happenin’ Jul 29 on Lake Minnetonka has a $10K guaranteed [!] 1st-place prize. Think any walleye guys can finish near the top o’ this one too? More deets here. #ChaChing

10. Bass Pro Shops sells 11 Cabela’s stores but…

…is leasing them back. So seems like they did it to get some cash, which was $324 mil….

11. MN: Lure-maker’s favorite jighead color: chrome.

Tip of the Day

Follow white bass schools for walleyes.

Jason Feldner of Perch Eyes Guide Service:

> “To put clients on fish day-in, day-out, you’ve got to have back-up plans to your back-up plans. I guarantee that if you spent the kind of time I do on the water, you’d dial in these oddball bites, too. A lot of times it’s about going with what works — not just what’s in the walleye textbook.”

> If there’s one way to find walleyes that’s really under-utilized, it’s watching where schools of white bass are spawning or feeding. While white bass typically spawn on sand, gravel or cobble substrate in tributaries and rivers, they’ll also gravitate to shallow cabbage beds in natural lakes, especially on windblown areas near shore and where warmer water circulates and baitfish congregate.

> So for about a week on Devils Lake each year, when water temps range from the high 50s to the mid-60s, spawning white bass become a key species for locating schools of walleyes that slash and rip through cabbage and over shoreline gravel, attacking everything that swims.

> Feldner turns to jigs in heaviest size he can get away with so the bait drops quickly through the piranha-like white bass and into the mouths of walleyes. #7 Jigging Raps are another great option, especially colors like “pearl white” which almost perfectly mimics white bass-regurgitated minnows, even younger white bass.

Quote of the Day

“Who says tillers and bad weather don’t mix?”

– That’s the caption under this Lund Boats FB post:

Favorite comment:

> Kevin Joslyn: “Guys who have run tillers their whole life and finally switch to a windshield boat, that’s who.”

Today’s ‘Eye Candies

Solid pic as usual from Josh McFaddin (@joshmcfads), and one reason it’s so fun watching that Manitoba emerald goodness swim away. #Greenbacks

I can’t get enough of those Lake Winnipeg greenbacks [heart-eyes emoji] so here’s a couple more quality Josh McFaddin shots with his rather persuasive caption:

> McFads: “Life’s short, go catch a strange colored fish today.”

Okay you talked me into it.

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