Target Walleye/Ice email

SD walleye record shattered, Spinning reel strip down, Early-ice trophy bluegills

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The best walleye and ice fishing pics, tips, gear hacks, and news year round
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Today’s Top 5

🚨 SD state-record walleye broken AGAIN! 🚨

It was barely a couple of weeks ago when Aaron Schuck used a Walleye Nation Creation’s Reaper Nation Creation’s Reaper to break the SD state-record walleye with a 16-08 (33” long x 21” girth) he caught out of Lake Oahe (Missouri River reservoir) near Akaska, SD.

The previous record had stood for 21 years, but now this one ^ made it a whole 15-ish days before being absolutely shattered….


*Keith Pazour has entered the chat*


Keith Pazour’s pending new state-record walleye just hit a certified scale at 17 lbs 13.92 oz and measured a paunchy 33” long x 22” girth! 🤯

Can’t even imagine! That fish is headed for the wall whether Keith’s wife approves or not lol:


> “Erin Pazour [his wife] said no more fish mounts unless it’s a record. Jokes on her!!”


Few more pics of the walleye of a million lifetimes:

Wild enough 👀 this new record was caught on the same bait as the fish from a couple of weeks ago! Only this time the Walleye Nation Creations Reaper was in the “McGannon Special” flavor – which looks like this:

I’ll have some more details on this coming soon-ish. In the meantime here’s a bunch more insight on the newest record in this Sam Fosness Mitchell Republic write-up:


> Less than an hour into fishing the river, Pazour hooked what he said felt like a “huge one” that he figured weighed well over 12 lbs. As he managed to reel the walleye into his boat and put it on his scale, Pazour was shocked at the numbers the scale registered.


> “I had a few choice words when I lifted her in the boat. I was by myself and had my camera set up. I threw her in the live well and it was weighing between 17 and 18 pounds,” Pazour said of the events that unfolded prior to breaking the state record with his massive walleye that weighed 17-13. “I knew then I had to get in.”


> By the time Pazour arrived at the boat ramp Saturday morning near Gettysburg, he said boats were lined up to begin fishing. When a friend spotted Pazour attempting to take his boat out of the water in the morning when most anglers were going the opposite direction, he was convinced Pazour had to be having boat troubles until he heard Pazour’s response.


> “He asked if I was having boat problems, and I said ‘No, I think I have the new state record.’ People were confused seeing me getting out of the water that early in the morning, but I knew I had to get that thing on a legit scale.”


> The Pierre angler has been fishing the Missouri River his entire life. When Aaron Schuck, a ND angler, landed the state record walleye not far from where Pazour caught his massive walleye, it had Pazour salivating to reel in an even larger fish on the body of water he knows well.


> “I figured out this area with a big-fish bite about 5 years ago, and I had been chasing a big one there for a while. I still know there is a 20-lber out there. The day the previous record got broke, we were right up in that area.”


Unbelievable! No idea how long this newest record will hold…but soak it up in the meantime, Keith. BIG congrats!!!

How color changes at different depths.

Very cool video from Gary Klein showing on his “Berkley Color Board” how soft-plastic colors change the deeper you go. Of course this is what it looks like to us – not fish – but still pretty dang interesting:

Btw they went all the way down to 70′ in that vid, but the only thing you’re gonna catch down there is a prehistoric bull ‘gill this size of a barn:

Ice fishing: Are you THIS diehard?

Ice fishers are definitely a different breed, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!


1. You know you’re obsessed with ice fishing when your man-cave bathroom floor looks like THIS:

Done up by Walls of Art muralist Tony Stafki. Seriously impressive, man!

Few of my favorite comments under the post:

  • I’d step over the ice hole every time just because it’s a habit.
  • Wonder how many cell phones would go through it?
  • My wife would hate it…would make her feel even colder in the mornings.
  • Only fitting that there is a CRAPPIE in there….



2. When ice-junkie South Dakota Fishing Guide is prepping his UTVs for hardwater, he said it includes cutting a hole in the floorboard where they put a Round Catch Cover for the ultimate hole-hopping machine. So jealous lol:

I love that! If you’ve slapped a Catch Cover somewhere it normally wouldn’t be (lol) please reply to this email and shoot me a pic – I always enjoy seeing different setups!

How John Hoyer tracks down trophy bluegills. 🥶

First ice might be your best opportunity of the year to catch truly huuuuge bluegills. Here’s how (and where!) big-fish junkie John Hoyer targets ’em when things lock up, and it’s likely not where you’d think….



Most folks zip straight off to the weeds…while Hoyer runs with the bulls in 15-30′, focusing on soft-bottom basins that flatten out at the base of a saddle or shelf:


> Hoyer: “They’re out on deep flats that have bug life going on – especially the trophy-sized fish. They’re following the food and not really holding to structure.”


Starts drilling holes in deep water at the base of a drop-off and moves OUT from there:



Bluegills are picky when a lake first caps. Hoyer says, “they’re crabby” and “it takes a week-ish for them to adjust to it.” When fish start actively feeding again, time of day is crucial:


> “Big bluegills will shut off completely for long stretches – you have to hit the feeding windows, which are usually at first light and then dusk into nightfall.”


Says you can NOT rule out a lake for big ‘gills until you’ve spent time trying to locate fish at lowlight dusk. He’s also a big believer in overcast days with a falling barometer = fish are more likely to feed all day:


> “That’s when we’ll make a long run to a known trophy lake. Other than that, it’s basically the 2 feeding windows.”




Any light rod combo will work, the key is a bite indicator like a spring bobber or noodle rod:


> “You have to be able to see the bite, because 90% of the time, you won’t feel it with gloves on.”


Hoyer fishes 3-lb Berkley Trilene Micro Ice Mono, switching to fluoro (which sinks) in deeper water to boost the bait’s drop rate. And here’s why he says 3-lb is the deal:


> “4-lb is too thick, and 2-lb will lead to heartbreak on a hookset, guaranteed.”


Lure selection isn’t as meticulous as it can get later in the season:


> “I usually go with a 1/16-oz tungsten jig or a 1/16-oz spoon. I’ll tip it with a red Berkley PowerBait Whipworm or Mayfly, and I’ll always have a bait puck of Euro larvae on hand, too. The key is getting it down in front of their face fast when the bite is on.”


Leans towards dark colors for bluegill, including red, black and motor oil.



Hungry bluegills often suspend low in the water column.


> “You’ll see them 2-5′ off the bottom. Sometimes, you can watch them compete for your lure on the flasher – that’s when you can really wail on them.”


Once he marks a fish, he moves his bait 12-18” upward while quickening his jig cadence to mimic fleeing prey.


> “Then you let them catch up to it and eat it.”


Using a flasher also helps visualize the way bluegills feed using lateral line vibration.


> “A 1/16-oz lure will be a thick red mark, like a fish. If I’m getting denied, the first thing I’ll do is downsize jigs. The smaller jig shows up as a thinner, green line, and that lighter frequency is the same thing that happens on a bluegill’s face. When the bite is tough, less is more.”


And if you’re lucky, you might just hit a dusk plankton bloom on some lakes, and then:


> “It’s go-time. It gets so thick you can’t even mark your jig, but that’s their food source. If you hit one of those hatches, the bite is usually good as late as you want to stay.”


Thx for all the info, John! 👊

“I definitely have some reels that need this but have been too nervous to tear them apart….”

Super-relatable comment under this vid where Randin Olson of Lock Jaw Guide Service shows us how he disassembles, greases and oils his fishing reels…and he breaks ’em ALL the way down. But watching this vid for sure gave me the confidence to dig deeper on my next reel cleaning sesh:


1. OH: Lake Erie ‘Fall Brawl’ has a new leader.


Brandon Risner caught this thiiiick 11.52-lber (29.75″) fishing from SHORE!

2. AB: Walleye are so abundant that a fisheries biologist…


…is advocating to increase harvest opportunities?


3. MI: Interesting read on an acoustic telemetry program…


…being used to track fish movement.


4. Wildlife Forever and Rapala continuing partnership…


…for the 2023-2024 Fish Art Contest:


> The Fish Art Contest is open now thru Feb 28th for students in Kindergarten-12th grade anywhere in the world. The program is an easy way to connect students to nature and conservation while introducing them to the world of fishing.


> “We are deeply grateful for Rapala’s support of this important program. Their products will help us establish more opportunities for educators to bring angling into the classroom,” said Addison Motta, Education and Communications Manager at Wildlife Forever.


> “Teaching conservation to the next generation of anglers is essential for everyone’s enjoyment of our natural resources for many decades to come,” said Matt Jensen, Vice President of Marketing and Ecommerce at Rapala. “Rapala is proud to support youth education through the Fish Art Contest.”


The 2023 contest winners were awesome. Here’s 1 of ‘em – and the fact that this black crappie piece from Isabella Puzyreva was in the K-3rd Grade Division blows my mind:

5. ON spending $1.3 mil to decrease phosphorus in Simcoe.


6. Mike Anselmo acquired Untamed Tackle.


Mike was the marketing director at Northland Tackle the last couple of years. Prior to that he was with Striker Brands, and In-Depth Media Productions. Little background from Mike’s FB post:


> “Kyle Welcher and I met each other before the start of Kyle’s rookie season on the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was with Striker and looking for good young anglers to help introduce Striker rainwear and UPF fishing shirts. Striker and Untamed were two of Kyle’s first sponsors. I really liked the quality of the Untamed products, and I thought the brand looked cool. I asked Kyle a couple years ago if he thought it would ever be for sale. Fast forward through time and here we are.


> “There’s a bunch of people that will read this and not be surprised. I’ve always wanted to have a brand of my own. I’m still going to be doing marketing and e-commerce work for other companies, but it’s going to be exciting to drive Untamed with Kyle and find out where this thing will go. Like I said, the products are great. My plan is to give it the marketing love and voice it deserves.”


7. MI: Monroe native founded Women of the Wild to support female vets.


Felicia Marie started Women of the Wild to serve female veterans across the country:


> “Our mission is to create safe and affordable hunting, fishing and education for females. We all deserve to find our passion. Many times females in the outdoors are left on the sidelines. We want to invite you to try something new, learn something new and help us build an incredible sisterhood of females conquering the outdoors lifestyle.”


> “We host all women, offering education and opportunities, but specifically sponsor our female veterans for hunting and fishing trips all over the United States a few times a year. We usually keep them small groups of 3 to 4 for our veterans event for a more personable experience for the ladies. We offer classes, courses and experiences all over the United States as well as internationally.”


8. UT: DWR now successfully hatching/raising tiger muskies.


> Tiger muskies are a non-native predator fish that are a cross between a northern pike and a muskellunge. As a predator species, tiger muskies can also be a valuable tool for fisheries managers because they can help control nuisance fish populations in specific waterbodies. Tiger muskies have been stocked in UT since 1988.


> Typically, hatchery managers spawn tiger muskies using eggs from female northern pike and milt (or fish sperm) from male muskellunge. However, fisheries managers were not having success getting northern pike females in hatcheries to produce eggs that they could use to spawn and raise new tiger muskies. In spring 2021, biologists decided to instead try taking the eggs from a female muskellunge to cross it with the milt from a male northern pike.


> Since 2021, the DWR has successfully produced, raised and stocked over 85K tiger muskies as a result of the new female muskellunge cross method. Where previously tiger muskies were donated from other states, these fish were all hatched and raised in-state in the Fountain Green Hatchery.


9. NPAA + ASA = Expanding their relationship.


> NPAA President Pat Neu: “For all of us working to earn a living in the sportfishing industry, networking is critical, and building the relationship between NPAA’s diverse membership and ASA is an effective networking strategy. Individual anglers cannot lobby for the future of the sport on their own. They must become part of this larger network.”


10. MN is taking submissions for a new state flag and seal….


Apparently if all goes to plan, a new set of state symbols would be accepted by the MN legislature in the spring of 2024.


They’ve already received more than 2,600 submissions…and you’re dang right I’ve scrolled thru every single one LOL.


Gotta say I’m a little disappointed that so far maybe only a couple dozen even had a reference to fishing – let alone walleye. But this one made me laugh way more than it should have lol:

Some folks are taking it a little more seriously than others. 😅

And apparently there’s at least one squatch hunter in the bunch – I know Mr. BassBlaster Jay Kumar would like this one:

Hopefully there’s a little bit of fishing-related something on the end result!

Few Highlights


> First-ice walleye locations, OG fishing commercials, Wheelhouse deer stand

> Fish slower late fall, Giant Lake Winnipeg greenbacks, Troll by feel not speed

> Massive Metro crappie, Wild ice fishing videos, The river giveth

> SD record walleye caught, People are ice fishing, Top hardwater pet peeves


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.

Tip of the Day

Side Imaging and bottom hardness explained.


Short, slick and helpful Instagram reel from Humminbird explaining Side Imaging and bottom hardness. Also the little 3D preview they used to help explain things has my brain going wild on WHAT IF that’s what our Side Imaging could look like one day….

Meme of the Day

I about spit out my coffee the first time I saw this one:

I guess it’d still be a monster 12-pointer if he held it behind his back…? 😂🥴

Parting Shots

Here’s how they do free boat wraps up north! 🥶 Mika Vornanen wasn’t going to let Mother Nature stop him from enjoying a little quality time with his Lund 1900 Tyee. #diehard

Reminds me of that time Mother Nature decided to wrap Colorado fishing guide Bernie Keefe’s sled while simultaneously reminding him who’s in control:

Don’t you just love the highs and lows of ice fishing? Crazy to think about the type of stuff we’re willing to sit through – for hours or even days on end – just to catch a fish through a dang hole in the ice!


Thanks so much for reading! 👊 Back at you on Friday.

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Target Walleye – walleye during open water and all species during hardwater – is brought to you by Al Lindner, Jim Kalkofen, Jay Kumar, 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
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