Target Walleye/Ice email

Insane zander pics, Merp crappies caught, Bass are dumb

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Today’s Top 5

Slush melons of the week!

Kelly Eppers stuck this Lake of the Woods slab fishin’ 29′ over a small basin. Fish ate a 4mm tungsten teardrop matched with a J and S Custom Jigs Icemite in the “dirty bubblegum” color. Not sure which is prettier: the fish or that NW Angle backdrop:

Becky Hoffbeck doesn’t always outfish her husband Craig…but when she does it’s by a big ol’ margin (lol had to man). Caught that slab of Gull Lake gold 15 min into her first drop with a Northland Forage Minnow Spoon. Craig – better get that new Aqua-Vu Multi-Vu HD in the background hooked up so you can see ’em coming!

Walt Matan got into some serious slabbage dipping the new Custom Jigs & Spins Magnum Chekai Tungsten Jig into Lake Petenwell, WI. Bait has a long-enough shank to hook whole live minnows:

Marc Tremblay has been killin’ it [!] with Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe rattlebaits — a super non-boring way to walleye fish. Couldn’t pick just one shot so here’s a fishcollage, including a bonus ‘lunge:

More merp crappies caught.

Are “merps” more common than we think? Maybe they’re (understandably) way more difficult to hook and so we just don’t see as many caught. Couple recent ones sent in:

Eskimo pro Josh Kratcha iced himself this merp crappie while fishin’ a central ND rez. Said he missed it on two hooksets before connecting with an Acme Hyper Rattle (shout-out to treble hooks everywhere). Easy to see why it’d be tough to hook:

Bass phenom Andy Walls missed this dorkfish 3 times before he finally pinned it with a VMC Tungsten Tubby Jig tipped with a Trigger X Spike Worm. Said he bottom-jawed him the 4th time around. Imagine watching that on an underwater camera!

TW fan Justin Sander wants to know if “this would be considered a reverse-merp crappie?” You got me man lol:

How to catch tough mid-winter walleyes.

Probably seeing some of the most lethargic fish of the winter right now, but of course that’s not going to stop us from going out! Here’s how Joel Nelson tracks down inactive fish and gets ’em to bite:

> …you’re looking for a downward-trending barometer or a fairly-stable one. Heavier snow cover cuts down light levels and makes bite windows extremely important. You’ll want to be in a high-likelihood location at first and last light..spend your daytime drilling and finding, but be ready to ride out locations towards dark.

> Moving fish are a big deal this time of year. You may not get them to commit on the initial offering — or even during that time of day — but lethargic walleyes will often still come to check out the commotion caused by noisy baits.

> With heavy snow cover and diminished light levels causing small bite windows, it’s imperative that you offer them the 1-2 punch of Rapala Rippin’ Raps with a nearby deadstick.

> Think Jekyll/Hyde, with the high-vibration Rippin’ Rap racing aggressively and ringing the dinner bell, while the minimalist deadstick rod has a plain #4 octopus hook and tail-hooked shiner or fathead.

> If the fish are so negative that they’re actually scared by aggressive baits and jigging, tone it down. You can still call fish from a distance with baits like the VMC Rattle Spoon. Just remember to have the deadstick nearby, so any fish which passes on your jigging rod is forced to see live bait that can’t get away.

Ogle you some zander!

Like we said before: zander aren’t exactly a walleye, but a close European cousin that grows to stupid-dumb-big sizes. Honestly can’t get enough of ’em because 1) they’re neat to look at, 2) it’s fun to imagine walleye growing THAT big, and 3) I want to catch one or seven someday.

Here’s a few ridiculous shots I meandered past while cruising the interwebz:

Philipp Feist’s last zander of 2017 was also his biggest…though not sure how it could get much bigger?

Another Philipp Feist shot. The perfect combination of beautiful + terrifying:

Lucas got a bit generous on this hold — regardless this zande-beest still went 40.55″.

Guys like Hector Rivas even catch ’em from FLOAT TUBES. Seriously?!

Don’t really understand most rod-in-mouth shots, but do understand needing both hands to hold THIS one up:

Topwater bass fishing THROUGH the ice.

Guess this craziness is how our friends down south ice fish:


1. MN: Extravaganza winners pass polygraphs.

Hope this story gets shared as aggressively as the initial one did. Update from the Brainerd Dispatch:

> When asked to submit to a polygraph exam by the review committee, the [anglers] voluntarily agreed to participate. [They] were interviewed separately by a licensed polygraph examiner [and] each of them successfully completed the exam…no deception had taken place with regard to the fishing contest.

2. New Vexan Crystal Reapers lookin’ tasty.

Especially digging the “wonderbread” color that glows in the dark:

Whoops, wrong pic…hate when that happens (lol). Here’s the real deal:

Can get ’em for a steal right while 3-packs are just $9.99 (all colors and sizes). Blowing ’em out ‘cuz they’re switching over to single packs soon-ish. Jump on that deal right here.

3. MN: Mille Lacs ice derby happenin’ Sat.

4th Annual UPS ice tourney that supports United Way and United Heroes League. Oh and they’re giving away $40K in prizes. #WinWin

4. WY still trying to eradicate walleye…

…outta Buffalo Bill Reservoir where they were “illegally planted.” #BucketBiologists

5. ND: Lookin’ for new District Game Warden.

> Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing [lots o’ tickets], and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

6. MI: New online system for reporting fish kills.

If you’ve never heard of a “fish kill.” Here:

> Given the harsh conditions of winter with thick ice and deep snow cover, fish kills may be particularly common in shallow lakes, streams and ponds. …distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring.

> Dead fish may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus wasn’t the cause of death. The fish suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.

7. FireLine Ultra 8 wins Best In Show.

At both the Big Rock East and West Shows. Also won “Best Fishing Line” at ICAST. Korey “Catch ‘Em All” Sprengel has been running it for three years and said it’s got the casting distance of NanoFil, the strength of FireLine, and lasts longer than both.

Haven’t tried it yet, but will. FishUSA has it in stock here.

8. New Power-Pole Ultra-lite Spike.

For canoes, kayaks, etc. Know a few places that’d be handy around here….

9. Garmin and Lowrance mend legal fences.

10. The Fishing Wire and FTR team up.

11. 20% of Rapala jigging baits ’til Sunday.

Left to right: Jigging Rap, Jigging Shad Rap, Snap Rap and the Flat Jig. Betcha can’t say that 5x fast!

Headline of the Day

Sometimes the fish that got away, didn’t.

Guy had his rod pulled down the hole by a rainbow trout — caught it an hour later.

Tip of the Day

On the first drop, Tony Roach pulls the memory out of his line to get rid of coiling. Gives him better control over the bait and less headaches. Here’s how:

Meme of the Day

Almost used this as the “Tip of the Day” instead of putting it here lol:

Or you can just go to Manitoba where walleyes are born 24″ long.

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

You know this snap isn’t staged — unless Tom Batiuk had terrible aim with that “UV purple tiger” Northland Glo-Shot Spoon. Killer pic man!

Sign up another ice-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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