Target Walleye/Ice email

Early river walleyes, Quickest auger ever, Dirty vs clear water

Today’s Top 5

How to catch BIG early-season river walleyes.

You dreaming of open-water yet? No doubt winter has taken its toll, and we’re jonesin’ to put fat ‘eyes boat-side! Lot of the lakes across the ice belt will be locked up for a while — say ’til July lol — but a handful of river systems are open and can kick out pre-spawn giants like these:

We reached out to multi-species guide Doug Wegner to get his approach for early-season slaunches. Full write-up on, few excerpts below.

Doug spends most of his spring trips on WI’s Fox River, but same type of deal can work on other river systems like the Rainy River, Mississippi, Peshtigo, etc.


> Doug: “Some of the best areas to find early-season fish are sand or mud flats adjacent to the main river channel…fish position themselves on top of these because they usually warm up the fastest.

> “I also look for current breaks and seams close to the main channel…areas where walleyes can get out of the current and create natural ambush points.”

> “Subtle bottoms transitions can be crucial on tough days (sand to gravel, sand to mud, etc). I rely a ton on Humminbird MEGA Side Imaging to find these transition areas quickly — saves a bunch of time — especially in stained water.

> “I also keep a really close eye on my temperature gauge. Sounds obvious, but there’s often pockets of water (even 1-degree warmer) and fish will load up.

> “I’m a firm believer that early-season fish move shallower with the sun — just because they’re walleyes doesn’t mean they’re scared of light. At the end of the day, they want to find the warmest water.”


> “The first few trips of the season — when the water is still super cold — it’s tough to beat live bait. My go-to is a 1/4-oz jig tipped with a minnow. Stinger hooks help with the short strikes from lethargic fish.

> When the water warms to 36+ degrees, I transition to plastics and hard baits. I like ringworm-style baits and paddletails…our water is pretty stained so I stick with orange and chartreuse for colors.”

> “As the water continues to warm up and the bay opens up, I’ll start focusing more on the area outside the river mouth. This is where a Rapala Rippin’ Rap really shines.

> “My go-to size is the #6, but I’ll bump up or down a size depending on depth. The retrieve is everything — think of it as ‘yo-yoing’ it back to the boat.

> “Cast it out, let it hit bottom, then lift the rod tip to 11 o’clock…keeping the tip up as the bait swings back down. Drop the tip to 9 o’clock and repeat.

> “The biggest mistake I see people make is dropping the rod tip as the bait falls – you don’t want a super sharp fall, rather a subtle swing. Most of the bites will come on that swing…you’ll feel the fish as you make your next lift.”

Are you THIS hardcore?

No surprise it’s a Lund #TillerLife guy lol:

Love my 2008 Lund 1825 Pro Guide, but at this rate a windshield boat might be a better option for the 2019 fishing opener:

Not sure Lund will be making those ^ anytime soon, but I’d loooove to test out a prototype. 😉

“This is what happens when a perch drags a Bullwhip around all summer.”

Hope that means @travelingsoulak scored a bonus TUCR Bullwhip to go with this jumbo pushing the 2-lb mark. Ouch!

The caliber of fish Lake Cascade kicks out is straight-up ridiculous:

Sometimes smaller baits catch the biggest fish….

The HSM Outdoors crew walloped the Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba BIGS on an itty-bitty Salmo Chubby Darter in the “hot perch” color. Sick fish and shot!

Hard as it is to put down the yuuuuge rattlebaits on a lake like “Big Windy,” it can pay off with fish that have gotten conditioned to seeing the same baits over and over.

Betcha can’t drill 3 holes quicker than this guy.

Not the greatest vid, but you’ll get the idea:

That’s 3 holes in 6.4 seconds [!], would love to see the shrapnel fly with an 8″ bit….


1. OH: Shifting winds strand 46 on Lake Erie.

At least a handful of peeps swam across the gap in the ice before first responders, a fleet of airboats and a couple of Coast Guard helicopters came to the rescue. Glad to read that “no one was seriously injured.”

With more big winds in the extended forecast, this public service announcement is brought to you by Lake Erie guide Ross Robertson. #PreachIt

2. MN: Can keep 1 walleye on Mille Lacs…maybe.

Depends when you’re headed there….

Will be able to keep 1 walleye between 21-23″…or 1 walleye over 28″…from May 11 to May 31. The catch-and-release season begins Sat, June 1.

> DNR fisheries chief Brad Parsons: “It’s good news that anglers get to keep some walleye this May, but we are being cautious. These regulations represent a careful balance between expanding fishing opportunities and conserving the fishery for the future.”

Gonna be a night ban (like recent years) from 10pm to 6am beginning Mon, May 13 throughout the entire open-water season (ends Nov 30).

3. MB: Gov’t stepping in to help Lake Winnipeg walleyes.

Wow lots of positive changes happenin’ for the Lake Winnipeg walleye population…some starting right now. Check ’em all in this Hooked Magazine write-up, including: a commercial fisheries quota buy-back option, adjusting the minimum net mesh sizes, and tweaking slot limits.

4. MN: Zeebz found in Upper Red Lake.

Zebra mussel larvae, no adults yet. Honestly thought they were already in there.

5. OH: Baby grass carp confirmed in Maumee River.

Pretty soon walleye guys will be chuckin’ a “Carpe Diem” color Phantom Reaper for Lake Erie teeners….

6. MI: 2 bros fined for poaching walleyes…

…on the Detroit River. Write-up says they went back for seconds…and thirds…and were eventually caught with 75 walleye fillets.

Each got a $2,070 fine and had their fishing licenses revoked for a whopping 1 year. #SlapOnTheWrist?

7. MN DNRs looking for Conservation Officers.

8. WI: Public meetings on Winnebago walleye population.

Couple more chances to voice your opinion to the right ears and somewhere other than social media.

9. How to make your own maps w/ AutoChart Live.

10. Midwest Outdoors is doing a weekly prize giveaway.

Total of $10,000-ish in prizes between now and the end of the year:

11. Lowrance has wireless networking in new sonar units.

Can share waypoints, sonar and mapping data between two Elite Ti2s without running cables between the units. Diggin’ that!

Tip of the Day

How ice pros approach dirty vs clear-water lakes.

Another solid AnglingBuzz Q&A — with some diehard ice-heads — packed with loads of quick tips:

Quote of the Day

If you’re a walleye angler and keeping all the walleye you catch every time, you’re eating far more walleyes than a muskie ever would.

– What Josh Borovsky said about the never ending muskie-vs-walleye debate. The write-up said “state leaders are expected to [once again] try to pass legislation that would limit where muskies can be stocked” in MN….

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Ice-nut Kevin William Christiansen (@kwc_fishing) has been leaning into ’em all season with a Yo-Zuri 3DR Vibe rattlebait. Has an “internal 3D prism” that’s supposed to be killer on heavily-pressured fish. #GreenOnGreen

And check his graph lineup in the background of this shot: Showdown, Panoptix, and Helix, oh my! #Ballin’

Sign up another fish-head!

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Who is Target Walleye/Ice
Target Walleye/Ice — walleye during open water and all species during hardwater — is brought to you by Al and Ron Lindner, Jim Kalkofen, Brett McComas and other diehard fish-nuts like you! #fishheads
Brett McComas is the main man for Target Walleye/Ice. 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

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