Target Walleye/Ice email

Record ND walleye caught, Blade baits still overlooked, More zander goodness

Today’s Top 5

ND walleye record unofficially beaten!

The current ND state record walleye (15 lbs 13 oz) was caught last May by Neal Leier on the Missouri River near Fox Island and…

…now less than a year later Tom Volk has unofficially beat it with a 16-lb 9-oz (32.5″) freak caught fishing from shore — on the Heart River in Mandan — with a “white” Northland Tackle jig and B-Fish-N Tackle AuthentX Moxi plastic:

Seriously can’t even imagine. BIG congrats!

NoDak’s kicking out more zander!

Case you missed Friday’s Target Walleye email, there’s a little ND lake that the DNR stocked with zander back in ’89 — zander’s a walleye’s European cousin that grows to stupid-dumb-big sizes across the pond.

Well dontcha know after sharing a couple of pics last week, I was flooded over the weekend with more recent ND zander catches…enjoy!

Brody Smith (@brodysmith2) stuck this finned-out European on a 1/4-oz VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig with a white paddletail. Legit makes me wanna blow off any adulting obligations in the immediate future and baja west RIGHT now:

How can you resist a face like this? Great shot, Brody! #Peekaboo

Oakley Peterson’s (@oakley_peterson) first open-water fish of the season was a NoDak zander! Caught pitching a “chartreuse/orange core” B-Fish-N Tackle AuthentX Moxi from the bank:

Matt Albright and Clay Gardner had themselves a day [!] popping a pile of 24″+ walldawgs, but said the highlight was this 21″ zandebeest. #Perky

I’ve never seen a baby zander before, but believe @jjoutdoors9 and @ingstadoutdoors snagged themselves a French fry??

TW fan Frank Holdburg sent in this snap of a zander his dad caught this spring. Good to see all different year classes…

Was sent a couple of “pre-release” pics of two bigguns Matt Schneider (@matt.scheindz) stuck this morning within 45 minutes of each other:

What I wouldn’t give to be one of the dudes fishing offshore in the background right now…believe the next closest place to catch a zander is ’bout 7,000 miles away! If you don’t get a Target Walleye email on Friday, you know why (lol)!

Walt Matan: Cold-water blade bait tricks.

Rippin’ blade baits is still one of the most overlooked and not-talked-about techniques for cold-water walleye. Learn ya some knowledge in Walt’s full MidWest Outdoors write-up here, few excerpts below:

> Thin metal wobblers like B-Fish-N Tackle B3 Blade Baits [left] and Wolf’s Big Dudes [right] cast like a rocket and sink like a rock. You’d think this would spook a shallow walleye, but it attracts them.

> Blades are “reaction” baits and fish have a split second to react to something resembling fleeing baitfish, so they attack.

> Never tie directly to a blade bait — some makes will have several attach points or holes at the top (which give wider or tighter wobbles). It’s best to use a snap or split-ring on top to prevent line cutting.

> Prevent snags in stumps, fallen timber or rock bottoms by cutting off the front barb of the front hook.

> Shallow-water trick: A sidearm cast low with a snap of your wrist will sometimes get the lure to skip along the surface, resembling fleeing bait.

> A slow, steady retrieve of a blade is popular, but you should try it with a stop-and-go and high-speed retrieve. I also like to rip-jig the blade up with a fast rip of the rod followed by a slow reel to pull up the slack.

Click here for more cold water tips on crankbaits, plastics and bucktail jigs.

Did you see this chameleon sauger?

Did fish-head Forrest Leitch lose this sauger, or did the sauger lose him? Looks like one of those Magic Eye pics you stare at cross-eyed until you puke:

Man thrown from boat going full speed!

‘Nother scary reminder (with a happy ending) why you should always wear a PFD with the kill switch attached. You just never know….


1. Fishing brother needs our help.

Tommy Skarlis is in the fight of his life as he battles a large brain tumor doctors discovered after suffering a seizure Apr 17.

If you can help Tommy and his family financially, hit the GoFundMe account here. If you pray, please send a few his way.

2. WI: Lake Winnebago NWT event happenin’ May 2-3.

Few interesting quotes from Korey Sprengel, last year’s Winnebago champ:

> “The major difference between this year and last year is that the water is already high this year. Last year we got like 8” of rain during practice, which made it high right before the tournament…but the water was already warm when it got high. This year it’s already high, which means it should take longer to warm up. The high, cold water will probably slow the migration. The water will also be clearer than it usually is.

> “Casting both the Berkley Cutter and Digger is going to come into play again — that’s how I like to fish though — I’d rather go to a specific area and pinpoint a fish. Time is everything in these tournaments…the more efficient you can be, the better you will do. I’d rather not randomly fish a roaming school.”

Caught most of his fish last year throwing a “chameleon pearl” Berkley Cutter 90 Shallow into the wind…just 3.5″ long but weighs 3/8-oz. Chose that color ‘cuz “Winnebago has a tannic color, and white baits really stand out and pop.”

> “I’m thinking around 15 or 16 lbs will put you in contention…you might not win, but you’ll be right there. It’s going to be tight because it’s pretty easy to catch 10-12 lbs. You just don’t know where your big bite is going to come from. Last year, everything just happened right for me.”

Can’t wait to see how it goes down.

3. MI DNR confiscates 80 walleyes from 3 fishermen…

…on the Detroit River. That’s 65 more than their limit….

Btw the write-up said the judge will calculate how much $$$ they owe by “weighing each individual fish and then assessing the fee at $10 per lb.”

Which seems to me like it’s the only thing that hasn’t been impacted by the inflation rate in the last 50 years….

4. MN: Wright County stops required boat inspection program.

For aquatic invasives.

> In 2017, Wright County became the first MN county to require boats and trailers to be inspected at a regional checkpoint before they were allowed on certain lakes. …planned to expand the program to include 6 more lakes…but the ordinance governing the pilot project was automatically repealed when the DNR didn’t approve it by an April 15 deadline.

> …will go back to conducting random inspections at boat ramps this summer — the practice used in most MN counties.

5. PA getting a month more rain a year.

Same probably goes for other eastern states too:

> “…we average about 3.5″ of rain more per year than we did when reliable weather records began in the region [1890s]. To put that into perspective, that’s about an additional month’s worth of rain per year, on average, compared to the late 1800s.”

6. Smooth Moves seat in action on big water.

It’s boat-rigging season! Another “tool” worth checking out = Smooth Moves suspension seat bases. Like having your chiropractor right in the boat, but way less weird lol:

7. MN: Still a few spots left in the Brainerd fishing league.

One of the best ways to improve your walleye fishing skills — and reeeeally learn the local lakes — is to join a fishing league. In the Brainerd Lakes Area that = Walleye Wackers. Laid-back crew, but chock full o’ serious sticks.

I’ve been fishing in this league for 5-ish years now and always look forward to it! Feel free to reach out to me (Brett) if you have any Qs. The schedule is posted here in the comments.

8. Tightlines UV sued Pure Fishing.

> The patent relates to the manufacturing process Tightlines uses to incorporate reflective properties into its baits.

9. Rapala sweeps going on.

The crew over at Rapala put together a 2019 Fishing Opener Sweepstakes you might wanna check out. Some lucky fish-head’s gonna take home the $275-ish package…also have 5 runner-up prizes more chances to win:

Tip of the Day

Power fishing for early-season walleyes.

Here’s one of Tony Roach’s favorite ways to catch ’em fast in the spring. Full write-up here, few excerpts below:

> Pitching and ripping Rapala Rippin’ Raps around shallow rockpiles, sand flats and breaklines is ideal when water temps are 50-55 degrees. The keys are covering a lot of water and letting the bait fall on a slack line.

> While working it back to the boat: repeatedly rip it up off the bottom and then quickly drop your rod tip to allow the bait to free fall on a slack line.

> Watch your line because most of the time those fish are going to hit it on the fall. That pause is their signal to hit it….

> Because early-season walleyes are usually found pretty shallow, pitching to them — rather than trolling for them — prevents spooking them with the boat. They’re up shallow feeding, looking for bait.

> When walleyes move out deeper (later in the spring) where the boat won’t spook the fish, you can troll or slip-drift Rippin’ Raps in 10-14′ on expansive flats. Then it’s more of a vertical jigging technique, but you’re still ripping it up and letting it free-fall back to the bottom.

> Because water in the spring is generally pretty clear, I like to use more natural colors. Use a lake’s forage to determine which natural-looking patterns to start with. If I’m not getting bit, I will start experimenting with brighter colors.

Tony likes the #5 and #6 Rippin’ Raps, and fishes ’em on 8-10 lb Sufix Braid with a 1-2′ leader of 10-12 lb fluorocarbon. #Works

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Careful…Spenser Samplawski’s fish pics are NOT work friendly…they’ll make you want to walk straight out the door and head to the nearest lake [fire emoji]:

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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