Target Walleye/Ice email

Freak of the week, Early-season walleye tips, Rippin’ Rap mod

Heads up: Not sure if I’ll be able to sneak a Target Walleye email next week. We’re hitting the road for Bakers Narrows Lodge, MB chasing mega lake trout, and maybe some bonus species…. More on that soon.


Freak of the week!

I got this awesomeness sent in from TW reader Tim Stein. I normally paraphrase this stuff and just include a few interesting snippets, but this is too cool not to plop it all down here:

> “With no ice in Feb we have been able to get out in the boat again in northern MI. Night fishing walleye is something that’s not for everyone. Carl has entered the brotherhood with high interest and low experience. I have been taking him out a lot in the last year and he has caught the bug, buying tackle, rigging his boat, but has not had a night to remember until now.

> “He smashed his PB boating this 12-lb tank. Interesting wrestling hold this rookie has on this fish that was released.”

> “We fish a 3-way rig and this night he had a DHJ12 in glass purple perch with a F11 hot steel…landing 9 fish in just a couple hours.”

> “At one point he was even doubled up with a 9-lb walleye on the DHJ and 7-lber on the Original Floater. Luckily he had a good net man and we brought 2 nets. These are the nights that keep us going and I’m super proud and happy for my brother. He will be graduating in a celebration with his peers later this month.

No doubt. 👊 Cheers, Carl!!!

How to catch BIG early-season walleyes. 🥶

You dreaming of open-water yet? A lot of the lakes across the ice belt will be locked up for a while yet, but a handful of river systems dumping into big water are opening on up and can kick out pre-spawn giants like this Doug Wegner special:

We reached out to multi-species guide and big-fish junkie Doug Wegner to get his approach for early-season slaunches. Doug spends most of his spring trips on WI’s Green Bay and the Fox River, but same type of deal can work on other similar systems.


> 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. It sounds obvious, but there’s often pockets of water that will be 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.

> “As the water starts to warm (36 degrees and up) 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 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-yo-ing’ 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.”

Looking to book a trip with Doug? He just posted some open dates that are coming in hot, and here’s his website. Maybe get yourself a spring melon like one of these:

Doug Wegner’s #1 Rippin’ Rap modification. 🎯

I don’t know if anyone has put more walleyes in their boat on Rapala Rippin’ Raps than Green Bay guide Doug Wegner…so when he dropped a YouTube video talking about his #1 Rippin’ Rap modification, I couldn’t click on it fast enough.

First off: Rapala Rippin’ Raps come stock with a slightly bigger hook on the front/belly than they have on the back/tail:

  • The #6 Rippin’ Rap comes with a #6 treble on the belly and a smaller #8 on the tail.

  • The #7 Rippin’ Rap comes with a #4 treble on the belly and a smaller #6 on the tail.

Doug actually flip-flops those so that the slightly larger hook is on the rear of the bait, because he says 90% of the fish come on that back hook and he wants that wider gap to keep fish pinned.

But if you want to take it to the next level:

Slide the bigger, stock, back hook up to the front/belly, and then upgrade the rear hook to a short-shank VMC Hybrid Treble: Run a #4 treble on back of #7 Rippin’ Raps, and a #6 treble on the back of #6 Rippin’ Raps.

He likes those VMC Hybrid Trebles (GREAT hook!) because they have a round bend and wider gap for keeping fish pinned, and better hookups when fish are nipping at the back of the bait from the way those chemically-sharpened hook points are slightly angled/pointed in. Bonus points that they also don’t hook as many zebra mussels when hitting bottom:

Bad dog…VERY bad dog.

And you thought the dog eating your homework was bad 😵 but love that they still put it back up on the wall lol. Ouch!


1. MN: Fishing bro’s family needs our help.

You’ve seen Jason Rylander’s mug shared in these TW emails a thousand times. Great people who are always helping others – but now it’s our turn…. 😔

Curing not treating!! 💪

For those of you from out of town: Here’s the Venmo account (@Jason-Rylander-2) if you can spare a few bucks to help their family thru these difficult times. 🙏 Much love to the Rylanders!

2. MN: DNR makes changes to record fish program.

> “Starting Mar 1, anglers can earn catch-and-release records for 18 species beyond the four current species that are recognized, a change the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is making in response to the increasing popularity of catch-and-release fishing and to raise the profile of native rough fish.”

They were originally going to be rolling these out in stages over the next few years, but it looks like now it’s all ready to roll. Who’s going to be the first to submit a new C&R walleye record that’s 32” or bigger?!

3. MN resurfaces lead tackle/ammo ban bill again.

> “The legislation would phase out lead tackle under 1 oz and require nontoxic ammo for hunting and shooting ranges.

> “Supporters of legislation that would ban small lead fishing jigs and weights in MN say it will prevent needless loon deaths due to lead poisoning. Opponents say that nontoxic alternatives to lead are too expensive and that loon populations are thriving.”

Terrible picture, but look at this asylum of loons I saw out on Gull Lake, MN last Aug. And that was only about 1/3 of ’em in this particular area:

4. WI: 83rd-annual Milwaukee Sports Show, Mar 7-10.

At State Fair Park.

5. MN: 16th-annual Minnesota Fishing Challenge set for Jun 1.

> The event has raised nearly $5 mil for Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge campuses [drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs to help people find freedom from addiction] across the state. It is now the largest fundraising fishing tournament in North America, and it takes place on the Gull Lake chain of lakes each year.

> Al Lindner, Honorary Host of the event since the beginning, echoes those sentiments, “I’ve been in the fishing industry my entire life…over the years I’ve been involved in many programs that have had a positive impact on people’s lives,” he says. The Minnesota Fishing Challenge is at the top of the list. I want to encourage you to come join us at this year’s event, I promise you will never be the same, God has truly blessed this event and everyone involved. I sure hope to see you there.”

6. IGFA announces 2024 hall of fame inductees.

7. Suzuki now has a matte black option.

I wish matte black was an option for anything and everyyyything. 😍

8. MN: Walleye pros Drake Herd and Robert Cardenas speaking…

…at the next Twin Cities Walleyes Unlimited meeting happening Thur, Mar 7 at the Bloomington Event Center.

9. MN: Big Stone Mega Bucks Walleye Tournament, May 17-18.

3rd-annual event out of Ortonville. $1K entry fee for the 2-day derby, but there’s $50K paid out amongst the top-7 spots. 😳

10. NE: Water levels ultra low at some lakes.

Probably going to be the case all over the Midwest!

11. PA: Leetsdale boat ramp on OH River might be rebuilt…

…after a few decades of basically being unusable. Some funding is still needed though.

On right now…

📲 Al Lindner is ticked, Giants of the week, Outrageous goldfish catch

📲 The truth about Mille Lacs walleyes

📲 Catch and cook laws, Wedding on ice, Grandpa’s tackle box

📲 More weights in fish, My ice camping setup, URL crappie madness

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.


Awesome read on “ice fishing naked.” 👀

Get yer mind out of the gutter 😅it’s talking about NOT using live bait lol. This Tom Starkweather write-up on Wired2Fish has a cool story, interesting info, and nice mix of tips. Too much to share it all in here, but you can click on the pic below to dive on in:


“I never thought barotrauma would be as popular as things like Taylor Swift….”

– That’s a quote from this SJR TV episode where they bring in Fisheries Professor Steven Cooke from Carleton University in Ottawa to talk barotrauma drama.


Talk about lake trout goals! Jessica iced this massive 44-incher while fishing with guide Fish Hassan at Bakers Narrows Lodge in Manitoba the other day. 🤯

Hoping to see if that thing has grown any in the last few days haha!

👊 Thanks so much for reading!!

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National Professional Anglers Assoc.



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.

Target Walleye LLC

422 Laurel Street

P.O. BOX 541

Brainerd, MN 56401

 (218) 824 5026

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