Target Walleye/Ice email

Cool new FFS baits, Jason Mitchell’s night bite tricks, Lake trout are savages

Today’s Top 5

So, what are “FFS Optimized” baits anyway?! 🤔

Btw FFS stand for forward-facing sonar.

Before anyone gets all worked up, just know that you don’t need forward-facing sonar (LiveScope, MEGA Live, ActiveTarget) to catch fish with these baits…. But of course they can be even more effective/efficient when paired with it.

That’s because we use FFS technology to interact with fish. Read their moods, see what fish like – or don’t like – by studying how they’re reacting to baits in real-time, and adjust on the fly from there.

Most folks are used to the idea that ‘this bait does this’ or ‘this bait does that’ or ‘this bait only works for THAT scenario….’

But that’s where baits “optimized for use with forward-facing sonar” are different. Imo a great way to describe what “FFS Optimized” means would be “angler control.” 🕹️

FFS optimized baits can be fished throughout the entire water column (top to bottom), they stay in the strike zone longer, and you can manipulate the actions of the bait (from finesse to aggressive) to get fish to commit to biting based on your interpretation of the fish’s mood that your watching on the screen.

Bonus points for being easy to cast INTO the wind, showing up well on the screen, and getting down to fish quickly. 🎯

Berkley’s first FFS Optimized bait was the Berkley PowerBait Power Switch, which they rolled out last ICAST:

> …gives anglers the control to “switch” methods or react to how the fish are behaving or the structure they see.

> When a fish is located using forward-facing sonar, the window to catch the fish begins, and that window will close fast. Anglers need to react and present their bait as quickly and precisely as possible. The weight-forward design of the PowerBait Power Switch allows for precision casts, fast fall rates and a wide range of actions to make the most finicky of fish commit to biting. With such a design, it allows anglers to have total control, and the ability to interact with any fish at any depth in the water column utilizing a variety of “hover” and “stroll” techniques. Packed with PowerBait flavor and pre-rigged with a Fusion19 hook to ensure a positive hook-up ratio….

> Berkley’s Project Engineer of Bait, Kyle Peterson: “The Berkley PowerBait Power Switch is one of the first baits that incorporates several different actions and techniques into one bait. This bait can sink fast, hover at the angler’s desired water column, with each action working together in one profile. It gives anglers everything they need to best interact with fish, especially when paired with forward-facing sonar.”

Awesome little unit I got to do some fishing catching with last fall, and will for sure be playing around with ‘em more this year.

And that’s not all Berkley has up their scientific sleeves:

Now here’s some info on Berkley’s 2 newest “FFS Optimized” baits…. 👀

First is the one I’m most excited about for walleye.

> Berkley’s Senior Project Engineer of Bait and Terminal Tackle, Dan Spengler: “The Finisher is the first of its kind, a hovering hard bait we call it. It truly gives anglers ultimate control of their bait. Being able to manipulate it in several ways based on what fish are responding to, especially when pairing this bait with forward-facing sonar.

> “What makes this bait unique is that it has no fin structure, which can allow it to do a multitude of actions. From erratic darting to natural minnow-like tail movement, what makes the Finisher deadly is its flat bottom which allows it to hover or hang in the water column. A bait with such diversity truly allows anglers to have control of how they’re interacting with fish on forward-facing sonar.”

Comes in 3 sizes (5, 7 and 9 = 1/3, 1/2 and 3/4-oz) and 20 colors:

Quick preview of the Berkley Finisher being fished a little more erratically like most walleye folks fish glide baits, but also peep that tail swing:

And here’s another quick look at it doing some more finesse-y things, including that little tail wag you just don’t see other hard baits doing:

So back to angler control, and being able to switch-up the action of the bait mid cast based on how fish are reacting to it in real-time on FFS. 💯 That versatility – anywhere in the water column – has me absolutely jacked to throw this thing at big, suspended walleyes on FFS. The types of fish that would usually have you scrambling to reel in so you could rotate thru multiple different setups to figure out what they’re wanting.

Berkley Krej

Pretty easy to spot what makes this bugger stand out…. 🙃 Btw Krej is “jerk” spelled backwards:

Swims UP when you jerk it, and sinks backwards on slack line.

> Designed to excel with forward-facing sonar, the all new Berkley Krej is a revolutionary hard bait that defies conventional jerk-baiting by working its way upwards in the water column thanks to its unique upturned bill construction, only to then fall backwards towards its target.

> This new technique and action allows anglers to take advantage of being able to see how a fish is reacting on FFS, and present a never-before-seen action and level of bait control to get fish to commit, like working the Krej up and away from fish to better imitate a fleeing baitfish, or by pausing the retrieve to let the Krej backslide towards the fish to trigger a reaction strike.

Lots of different ways to fish/work it throughout the entire water column. But for now I want you to see the wild fluttering action it has while dropping backwards (towards the fish or structure) in this Instagram post from @alexruddfishing:

I’ll have more details and info on this stuff coming up in future TWs. 👍

How/where Jason Mitchell finds walleyes after dark.

There’s a 30-ish minute window we call the “flash bite” on lots of lakes where walleyes are snapping at sunset. After that, the flasher goes blank. Now what…go home? Nope:

> Jason Mitchell: Not all bodies of water offer solid night fishing opportunities for walleye but there are so many notable fisheries where we have traditionally caught the majority of fish or sometimes the largest fish long after the witching hour when the sun sinks into the horizon

> Often we figure out one window/movement of fish and when we quit marking fish…we assume that the bite is over. The bite might indeed be over if we don’t make any adjustments, but the reality is that we can prolong the bite and keep catching fish if we move with the fish.

> The toughest aspect of catching walleye well after dark is forgetting some of the lessons we tend to learn during the day. So often, finding and catching walleyes is all about reading structure and focusing on edges. After dark however, you can throw that edge mentality out the window.

> My favorite after dark locations and patterns are not necessarily classic walleye structure or breaklines that are close to deeper water. Typically, large flats or even basins and large shelves shine after dark…walleyes will often push up and roam much shallower water than you’d think.

> I use the whitetail deer analogy a lot when describing walleye patterns and movements. During the day, deer might follow an edge…but come middle of the night, they might be standing out in the middle of a soybean field that is several hundred acres. Walleyes can also be just as random after dark.

> Because the exact location of fish can be so random on large flats and shelves, fishing these areas takes a certain kind of mentality. You can spread out tip-ups to increase the chances of contacting these roaming fish or you can fish out of a shelter but in this situation, you have to realize that the fish are going to find you.

> This isn’t a situation where you can necessarily move around to find these random fish, set up so that at some point during the night these fish find you. What makes after-dark patterns for walleye so much fun is that these fish are typically much more aggressive and these fish are looking for a meal.

> On some fisheries, walleye will also be more apt to eat much higher in the water column well after dark. We have seen many scenarios where we caught more walleye after dark by fishing half way down in the water column, especially for big fish. This is particularly true for set rods and tip-ups with big bait.

> Don’t expect activity all night long, wait out the windows because ninety percent of the activity will happen during ten percent of the time.

Bunch more info here.

“Clearly they eat all of their vegetables.”

That’s Josh McFaddin (@joshmcfads) talking about this pair of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba greenbacks:

McFad’s has quite the…um, “special” relationship with the fish he catches…. 😂 Believe he met this walldette on PlentyOfFish?

Keep being you, man! 😂

“Lake trout may be the shark of fresh water.”

– That’s talking about this post from MidWest Outdoors where they found “a combination of baitfish, perch, walleye, and what looks to be the remains of a northern pike” in the belly of a laker!

Looks like (bottom of the pic) it even scooped-up an incidental zebra mussel during the feeding frenzy. 😅 Sheesh!


1. MN: Mille Lacs claimed the life of a legend.

Richard “Dickie” Gadbois, who had been plowing ice-road systems, running rental houses and launches on Mille Lacs for over 40 years. He also helped start the now famous “Perch Extravaganza” on the east side in the early 1980s, among helping many other non-profit groups, and much more.

Sounds like he was out checking ice conditions on the lake and that the ice was approx 6” thick where his small SUV broke thru. He was wearing a flotation device but unfortunately did not make it.

He will be greatly missed by many – our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

2. NY: Two brothers broke thru the ice on Basswood Pond…

…and only 1 was able to make it out. 😔 Prayers to the fam.

3. MN Fishing Hall of Fame names 2024 inductees.

> Inductees in the Individual Legends category are Scott Bonnema, Tom Zenanko, Matt Straw and Nancy Koep. In addition, Fishing for Life, Ice Team and Wayzata Bait & Tackle will round out this year’s inductee list.

Well-deserved, all! 🙌

> The official enshrinement will take place on Fri, Sept 27, 2024, at the Rice Creek Hunting, Rec and Event Center in Little Falls.

4. MN: Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza…

…is still tentatively on for Feb 3, despite rumors:

> No official announcement has been issued regarding the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Kindly verify information from reliable sources. Updates will be communicated on our Facebook page and website after collaboration with local officials.

I believe the alternate date IF it were to be postponed is 2/17, but you can keep updated or learn more info on their site.

5. National Team Championship registration opens Jan 15.

This year’s event will happen May 9-11 on Lake Erie.

6. WI: Green Bay named best ice-fishing destination in US.

Hopefully they get some fish-able ice soon….

7. MI: Navico/Lowrance is investing in Lowell plant.

> The metal fabrication Center of Excellence will be equipped with the latest laser and robotic fabrication technology…. Most of these products will come to market under the Attwood brand.

> The new state-of-the-art battery lab and assembly capability will aid in the design and development of custom power solutions for the nearly 20 end-markets that Navico Group serves with brands like Mastervolt and RELiON Battery. The lab will enable engineers to develop and test end-to-end battery technologies….

8. American Baitworks bought the rest of Freedom Tackle.

They’ve owned half of the company since 2019. American Baitworks owns several brands including BaitFuel, NetBait, Halo Fishing, Snag Proof and Scum Frog.

9. Ryan Buttermore new VP of sales/mktng for Megabass America.

Internal promotion, he was the national sales manager.

10. St Croix released SEVIIN spinning reels.

Released their new casting reels last year.

11. OH: Bass Pro Shops opening Feb 21 in West Chester.

12. MN: Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby canceled…

…due to poor ice conditions. Next year’s derby is scheduled for Feb 8.

13. MT: Hell Creek Marina annual derb is Feb 10.

14. MI’s shortest fishing szn starts – and most likely ends – Feb. 3.

Black Lake sturgeon season:

> The season traditionally starts the first Sat in Feb and runs through the following Wed or until the quota of 6 sturgeon is reached. Last year, the season lasted 65 minutes. In 2022, it was over after 36 minutes.

15. New “A I” boat company coming.

> The Avikus and AquaSport collaboration will advance the recreational sport boating market by harnessing the power of AI, sensor fusion and machine learning….

> Avikus’ NeuBoat technology will bring the innovations seen in the automotive sector to the recreational marine market, such as 360-degree situational awareness, 3D cluster views, advanced route planning, “smart” autopilot navigation that can identify objects and avoid potential collisions, and most importantly, autonomous self-docking capability.

16. FL: Tarpon thief from Pro Bass Shops still at large.

From the prior post:

> A suspect was caught on camera Wednesday night removing a 50-lb, living tarpon from Bass Pro Shop’s fish tank with netting he grabbed from the shelf. Then he left the store with the fish.

The fact there’s clear video and he still hasn’t been caught yet blows my mind.

Yup, this is real life! 🤯 Here’s your chance to win a free StrikeMaster Lithium 24v Ice Auger! I’ve been running the snot outta mine the last few seasons and have been super impressed!

Think of it as a lightweight (6” weighs 13.3 lbs, and the 8” weighs 14.3 lbs) run-and-gun version of the ’benchmark’ StrikeMaster Lithium 40v. And what a perfect ice-fishing season to add this compact unit to your arsenal!

The Rapala fam was also nice enough (thank you!) to throw in a StrikeMaster Battery Bag full of VMC spoons and jigs, including the hot new VMC Rattling Roach Spoons! 🤑 Little more info on those legit fish-catchers:

> ”…VMC connected with Tony Roach to work on the Rattling Roach Spoon. VMC leaned on Roach’s experience as a heavily booked, multi-species, all-season guide on MN’s Mille Lacs Lake to develop its new killer bait.

> “Its intense fluttering action combined with an exposed rattle chamber delivers maximum sound vibrations, grabbing the attention of nearby fish like no other spoon. We’ve dressed the spoon with a marabou teaser tail, which conceals a super sharp VMC treble hook. Holographic eye and a variety of UV, holographic attractor and live baitfish patterns. Ultra Glow colors last up to 15 minutes.”

Takes just 10 seconds to enter by clicking here or on the picture below and can share the link you get for bonus entries. Good luck!

Tip of the Day

How to breakdown a basin for crappies.

Another informative video from the new “Expose the Ice” series put out by the Crappie Chronicles crew. They do a nice job of breaking down how they attack basin crappies, and I think you’ll really like how they show lots of examples on the map of the exact types of locations they drill holes in first depending on X, Y and Z:

Meme of the Day

Sending that frisky minnow down on a deadstick when walleyes won’t touch your jigging spoons. 😅

Parting Shot

Stunning pic posted on @clamoutdoors’ Instagram. 😍

Sign up another fish-head!
If you’re forwarding Target Walleye to a friend who loves to walleye-fish or want your fishing buddies to get these emails, just send us their email addresses and we’ll take care of it! (We won’t sell the addresses, use them for spam, etc.)
Check this stuff out!
Friends of Target Walleye
Who is Target Walleye
Target Walleye – walleye during open water and all species during hardwater – is brought to you by Al Lindner, Jay Kumar, Chris Philen, Brett McComas and other diehard fish-heads like you!
Brett McComas is the main man for Target Walleye He was discovered in Brainerd, MN after years of wondering how in the heck people break into the fishing biz. He’s in it now, but still can’t answer that question…. Brett is one of those guys who majored in marketing, only because there was no such thing as a “fishing degree” at the time…. Get him at
To send us walleye pics, ice shots or whatever, just respond to this email or click here to email us. Or post it on the Target Walleye Facebook page.
422 Laurel Street
P.O. BOX 541
Brainerd, MN 56401
 (218) 824 5026
Email Us
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Youtube
LinkedIn Share This Email

To Top