Target Walleye/Ice email

Bug hatch tricks, Massive sturgeon caught, Homemade blade baits

Today’s Top 4

How to tell if there’s a bug hatch happenin’…

When your Minn Kota Talon looks like a kiwi at the end of the day:

Cap’n Ross Robertson ^ said it took him 3 hours to clean up that splatter at the end of the day. Be a fishing guide, they said…it would be fun, they said:

Or how ’bout when it looks like someone shot your Humminbird HELIX with a paintball gun! That’s actually a pile of buggers rising up from bottom on charter captain Juls’ unit:

Guess it could be worse…. You could have NOT gotten to go fishing, and needed a shovel — even though it’s 85 degrees! — to get in your car:

Not sure how many bottles of Sea Foam Bugs B Gone you’d need for that?

How to catch ‘eyes during a bug hatch.

So now that you’ve established there’s a bug hatch going on, here’s a few tricks to help you catch more fish:

First, a few quick-hitters we ran before on how some of walleye fishing’s top sticks catch ’em during a heavy bug hatch:

1. Perry Good:

> “I treat engorged walleyes like cold-front fish…go for reaction bites with a Jigging Rap or spoon. Or if I’m pulling spinners, I’ll speed up from 1.0-1.2 to 1.6-1.8 mph.

> “On a lake like Mille Lacs, it’s key to know which flats have the biggest bug hatches. If I see clouds of bugs on my electronics I don’t even fish it. I’ll move to the gravel bars where they don’t hatch.”

2. Tom Neustrom:

> “One of the things during a big hatch is go really light and run a stealth rig of nothing more than a split-shot and leech. I’ll either troll really slow or sit right on top of the fish….

> “The rig is simple: 4- or 6-lb Sufix Fluorocarbon with 32-38″ between a #4 VMC Octopus Hook and the split-shot. On the business end, I use a smaller leech like a medium or large to emulate the larvae coming off the bottom.”

3. Ross Robertson:

> “I do things differently. I don’t compete with the mud buffet. I do downsize, but look for harder bottoms because there’s fewer mayflies. Even if it’s just harder mud bottom. There’s the spongy stuff and there’s compact, clay bottom. I go for the latter — areas where there’s less competition.

> “I’m either cranking or pulling spinners. I downsize blades and crankbaits, like going from Reef Runner 800s to Deep Little Rippers which are half the size. In terms of spinners, I drop one to two sizes in blades…like from #8 to #6, or #6 to #4, or all the way down to #3.”

Now some for you visual learners…

1. Brad Hawthorne:

Mille Lacs guide Brad Hawthorne doesn’t let a hatch scare him off the lake — he uses ’em to his advantage to harass congregated fish:

2. Jon Thelen:

Jon changes up every aspect of his approach. First thing he does is stops fishing hard-bottom spots even if they were kicking out fish for the last 3 weeks. Moves to softer bottoms because that’s where the bugs are hatching and the baitfish won’t be far behind, with walleyes bringing up the rear of that food-chain parade:

Just remember…all you folks claiming to be about that #TillerLife can’t throw up that hashtag if you lay low during the bug hatch (lol).

Massive 84″ lake sturgeon caught!

One of the longest lake sturgeon caught anywhere, ever. Was an incidental catch (while bass fishing) by Tight Line Guide Service out of Kenora, ON…but no doubt one he’ll remember forever. Congrats dude!!!

Few details from his original Facebook post:

> “Well… this was the absolute last thing I was expecting when I went out this past evening to try and catch a few largemouth.

> “I was casting and swimming…a soft plastic back to the boat when I saw my line move so I set on what I thought initially to be a 6+ lb largie because it didn’t move initially, but as it got closer I knew it wasn’t a bass…maybe it was a muskie or the biggest pike I’d ever seen. I was not expecting to see this absolutely massive sturgeon on the other end of the line….

> “With the help of my girlfriend and a nice cottager we were able to get close to shore. It measured by my account 84” from tip of the tail to the nose — I used a boat rope and marked the length of it with a jig as I had nothing long enough to get a bump board measurement…nor did I want to take this fish out of the water.

> “We took only a couple photos of it as we were unhooking it as we didn’t want to stress it out anymore than it needed to be. …this big girl kicked off and returned to being one of those elusive once-in-a-lifetime fish you usually only hear stories about.”

I’ve heard of bumper boats…

…but how about bumper planes?! Chad Fisher and Justin Kirby (@living_skies_angling) were chasin’ SK waldos, and shared the spot with a dude legit JIGGING FROM A PLANE. Don’t see that everyday — or ever:

And you think you get funny looks when that Merc Pro XS fires up lol.


1. MN: AIM’s kicking off their season on Mille Lacs…

…with the Warrior Boats National Championship Shootout happenin’ May 29-30. Gonna be a slugfest — AIM was there ’round the same time last year and it took a 10+ average to win…but rumor has it there’s still no fish in Mille Lacs…. 😉

2. How slick is this?!

Called the Aqua Weed Stick — invented by competitive bassin’ gal Michaela Kofoed and her engineer husband — for cleaning weeds from your trailer:

Gonna have to pick one up. Love the idea of NOT using my fishin’ rods to try and knock weeds off.

3. Al and Ron Lindner were on the WeFishASA Podcast.

4. Cox Powertrain’s making 300-hp DIESEL outboards.

British company. Called the CXO300 and puts out 480 lb-ft of torque:

Man, I wanna hear what that thing sounds like (in person) so badly!

5. SPRO has new walleye baits.

Called the MadEye Series = new MadEye Minnow 120 and MadEye Diver. Created with Saginaw Bay guide Rob Ruckman.

> MadEye Minnow: …distinctive rolling and wobbling action that allows it to be trolled effectively at speeds as slow as 0.8 mph and a big-fish profile that offers a meal worth pursuing even in near-freezing water. The unique bill design is tuned to perform well at a variety of depths down to 20′.

> MadEye Diver: …proven “banana” profile that delivers a tight wobbling action with unpredictable side-to-side movement…. Designed for trolling at speeds between 1.5-2.5 mph…wobbles its way down to depths of 17’…complete with a rattling sound that drives walleyes mad. …excels when water temps reach 55+ degrees, making it Ruckman’s go-to bait in the summer.

6. Yar-Craft & Bass Cat boats wins ethics award.

7. Maybe win ya a Blackfish rain suit.

Pretty cool contest Clam’s putting on — post a photo landing a fish with one of their new nets and hashtag #CaughtWithClamNet between now and 6/21 and you’ll be entered to in a high-performance Blackfish Gear rain suit of your choice:

Blackfish makes the first rain suit I’ve ever heard of where frequent washing makes it better — good news if you catch a lot of fish lol! I’ve got the Blackfish Endura parka + bib combo and the thing’s legit.

8. ND: Did you know fishin’ guides…

…have to pass a “written examination” in NoDak? Next one is Jun 20 in Bismarck. Also:

> In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations…certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid…and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

9. Look at the size of this walleye’s head.

Lake of the Woods grows ’em big! Ninette caught that 29.25″ hawg-head out on “Bridges Reef” dunkin’ a 3/8-oz “gold/orange” color jig with a frozen shiner in 25′.

10. ND: Lake Sakakawea AIM derby happenin’ Jun 14.

Outta Fort Stevenson State Park in Garrison. Guaranteed $9K 1st-place pot for a 100-boat field.

11. Northland’s got “Throwback Hoodies” back in stock.

For now. #DoWant

Headline of the Day

Stuck at home? Pour your own fish magnet.

I’m more of a cheeseburger-kind-of guy, but I’d definitely take a bite out of these homemade jigs poured up with a Do-It Mold (believe it’s the Freestyle Jig mold) and American-made Eagle Claw TK810 Aberdeen 90 Degree hook. #TastyTreats Highlights

Tip of the Day

Great blog post for all of you Do-It Mold’ers out there. I’ve said before that tackle crafting could easily become an absolute obsession, and definitely looks like walleye dude Steve Miller caught the bug:

Meme of the Day

Got any fishin’ buddies that find “their spots” like this?

Quote of the Day

“Farmers, they pray for rain…walleye anglers on Leech Lake pray for wind.”

– That’s Jason Mitchell talkin’ in his newest YouTube vid about early-season walleyes on MN’s Leech Lake. When most folks would be hitting shoreline structure this early in the season — and yup, there’s loads of eater-size walleyes there! — Jason found bigger net-fillers pitching Northland Stand-Up Fire-Ball Jigs and minnows to off-shore rock piles:

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Shout-out to Houston’s Guide Service for putting his boat on a 31″ mon-star! Caught right over the side of the boat in just 2-5′ [!!] with a loooong 9′ 2″ [!!] JTX Snare Rod — basically sounds like hitting ’em with a cane pole in that dirty, skinny water.

Slow rolling ‘crawlers on a short-snelled (18″) Northland Butterfly Blade behind a 1-oz bottom-bouncer:

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Bug hatch tricks, Massive sturgeon caught, Homemade blade baits

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