Brett Carlson

NWT Full Scoop: Nitti satisfied with 2nd

National Walleye Tour photo

By Brett Carlson

Like pro champion John Hoyer, Hunter Nitti headed east to Lake Erie thinking it was possible to execute a successful casting program on the famed Western Basin. Like many other Minnesotans, Nitti is an ace with forward-facing sonar, having honed his scoping skills on Lake Mille Lacs.

> “I brought everything, both casting and trolling gear,” said the Rapala pro. “In my mind, I knew I could do it; I knew it would be possible. I just didn’t know what exactly they would eat.”

Nitti quickly discovered they would eat almost anything, just as long as they could see it.

> “Even though we’re scoping, every lake is very different. At Erie, they are constantly moving, and there are huge schools. It gets a little crazy. Where I was at, there were a lot of prespawn fish, and the water temperatures were still cold. I think that was the biggest factor. It could be a plastic; it could be a heavier hard bait. They were just reacting to it.”

By tournament time, Nitti had it nailed down to a #7 “perch” color Rapala Jigging Rap, a “legendary perch” color Jigging Rap Magnum, and a CrushCity Freeloader. The best color for the Freeloader was gizzard shad, and it was rigged on either a 1/2-oz or 3/8-oz VMC Hybrid Swimbait Jig.

> “My go-to rod for forward-facing sonar is nothing longer than a 6’ 10”…I can make more accurate casts with a shorter rod. I tend to use a medium-light, fast-action rod…nothing heavier than that. Paired with a 2500-sized reel rigged up with 15-lb Sufix 832 braid and a 14-lb Sufix Advanced Fluorocarbon leader.”

The Rosemount, Minn., native ventured 11.5 miles north from Port Clinton to an area in between B and C can. At times, he was within sight of Hoyer, although the two never communicated on the water. Nitti said he learned to identify prespawners on his electronics, not simply by size, but also by behavior.

> “All the guys that live out there have been cranking their whole lives. Cranking is what they do, and they know more about cranking than we do. We’ve now brought forward-facing sonar out there, and the change is going to be noticeable.” 

Nitti finished the event with a two-day total of 64 pounds, 10 ounces.

> “I’m very happy with 2nd place. If the weather was different on day 2, I think I possibly could have won the event. I was around the right fish, but it was just a constant battle on day 2. All you could do was keep casting.”

National Walleye Tour photo

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