Target Walleye/Ice email

Shallow snap jigging now, Early-ice panfish tricks, Creek chub fest

Today’s Top 5

Snap jigging plastics for shallow fall walleyes.

Snap jigging has taken off in the walleye world over the last 4-5 years (thx Al!). It’s a fun way to catch ’em and really good at pulling bigger bites — especially in fall.

Our budy Will Stolski tracked down walleye-nut Will Pappenfus to get the down-low on this bite ‘cuz it’s a big part of his fall rotation…and clearly has been putting it to good use. Full write-up here on, few excerpts below:


> Will: It’s definitely more of a shallow-water deal…usually less than 10′. A lot of guys go deep in the fall but if you can find green weeds (cabbage or coontail) in 4-7′ there’s going to be fish/bait hanging around.

> Aside from weeds, I like to look for wind-blown points, stuff with rocks or gravel in 4-10′. Don’t necessarily need deep water nearby…. Fish roam around more in the fall than people think, so finding the bait is key.


> A 1/4-oz Northland Current Cutter Jig is my go-to. The longer shank and bait-keeper seems to keep the plastic pinned better than most jigs.

> Dress the jig with either an Impulse Core Swimbait or an AuthentX Pulse-R Paddle Tail. I usually stick with natural colors (shiner, smelt) unless the water is really stirred up, then I’ll switch to something brighter (chartreuse and pinks).

> Plastics ‘cuz they stay on the jig a lot better than live bait…allows me to fish faster and be more aggressive until I find a pod of fish.

> As far as rods go, I like a 6′ 8″ medium, extra-fast action stick…that quicker action allows you to get more snap out of the jig. 10-lb braid to a 10-lb fluorocarbon leader. The leader doesn’t have to be long, 2-3′ max….fuoro because it has less stretch and visibility than mono.


> Long casts…I want that jig as far away from the boat as possible. Once it hits the water, I’m letting it sink to the bottom before I do anything — bottom contact is key.

> Make a quick snap, then let it sit on the bottom for few seconds…a lot of times fish will be following the bait, so that 1- or 2-second pause is when they eat it.

> If they don’t eat it on the bottom, usually that quick snap will get a reaction bite out of fish and they’ll eat it on the fall.

> Position your boat so you can fish the edge of the structure. A lot of times fish won’t be up in the weeds or rocks, but hanging right outside of ’em waiting to ambush.

Rock melons of the week!

@lightscameronactionn busted out the headlamp to pull plus-size cranks in 15′ and whalloped himself a shoulder-bearing hawg:

Late fall can be downright nasty — think today’s the first time I’ve seen the sun in 2 weeks — but that hasn’t stopped Shauna Lowe (left) and Nicole Stone (right) from getting after the Manitoba rock melons.

Stuck this pair prefishing for the St. George’s Voyageurs Walleye Classic outta Pine Falls. Were 1 of just 2 lady-only teams in they 81-boat field = #stout

Don’t see this everyday, unless you’re Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson fishin’ up on Lake of the Woods:

> Gussy: “Second one of these in a few weeks…had a burbot tail sticking out of its stomach…was a 10- to 11-incher.”

^^^ That looks like fun, but this…not so much:

This next pic’s caption said all it needed to: Bagley Balsa Diving Sticks #GoodTimes

That’s a deep-diving crank made outta super-light balsa wood — magical stuff Bagley’s been using for 60+ years of making lures — to dive quicker and run truer. Has a special kinda dancing action you can’t get outta plastic. Check ’em right here.

How the biggest fish weighed at the Gull Lake derby was caught.

Broke down Jake Caughey and Dan Steffen’s winning Gull Lake pattern in the last Target Walleye/Ice email (Top Item #3) — now rounding out the top 3. Like I said, the Fishing to End Hunger derby isn’t a national tour but feel it’s important ‘cuz:

1) It’s a heavily-pressured lake with ultra-clear, zeeb-infested water. Can’t just go anywhere or throw anything, and expect to catch a walleye…let alone the right bites to win a tourney.

2) The derby has some seriously-stiff competition: Full-time fishin’ guides, tourney pros, and local hammers. Gotta have a near-perfect day to cash a check.

Chaz Dobias and Jake Bonsack pulled off 2nd with a 5-fish bag for 16.25 lbs. Only allowed 1 over 20″ in this tourney and theirs was a giant 30.25″ kicker:

> Chaz: We were live-bait rigging creek chubs and redtails at 0.5 mph on deep sand — with scattered weeds — in 27-38′. Used an 8-9′ fluorocarbon snell (8-lb) with a #2 Gamakatsu hook in the nickel finish. Tried to target individual marks with 6″ (+) minnows vs fishing the bigger schools.

> Headed straight to our big fish spot after take-off…fortunately got a double of 23″ and 30.25″ after about 2 min of fishing…big one came on a 7″ creek chub.

> This is a live-release (no dead fish) tourney, so the monster hit the scales before 9am [can weigh fish early and head back out to finish the rest of the bag]. Ended up being big fish of the tourney and a heck of a confidence boost.

Here’s an actual clip (okay not really) of Chaz hopping back in his tiller for round 2:

> After going back and catching a couple more ‘overs’ we decided we needed to try our ‘unders’ spots…caught a 19″, 18″, 20″, and 19″ in the next 90 minutes. With having to release the 20″ walleye we still needed one more ‘under’.

> Scanned a few spots and found a pod on the north end of the lake…caught another 18″ fish. Unfortunately the fish wasn’t looking too good coming outta 38′, so we decided to weigh early. Can’t weigh dead fish, so if it didn’t make it another 2 hrs it would’ve been tossed out.

> Congrats to the winners! Jake and I will absolutely be back to this great event!!

Nicely played, fellas! Congrats!!

Smaller minnows caught the biggest ‘unders’.

Toby Kvalevog and Dusty Minke landed in 3rd (out of 109 boats) with 15.83 lbs. Their ‘over’ barely went 5 lbs, means they basically had the biggest ‘unders’ possible…key in slot tourneys and lot of times harder than cracking a big one:

> Toby: I took the day off Friday to prefish a bit and find a few schools…was happy to see they were in their traditional fall spots. Caught fish both Jig Rap’ing #9s in perch colors and rigging chubs in 30-40′.

> We focused on schools of fish with the least amount of pressure…. Never spent more than an hour on any one spot — the fish either bit or they didn’t and we felt that our best bet would be to stay mobile until we contacted aggressive fish.

> The early AM brought 3 fish over 20″ to the boat…biggest being over 5 lbs. Still didn’t have another limit fish at 1:30pm so moved to smaller-fish spot. Rigging small minnows turned out to be the ticket and shortly after 2:30pm we had four 19.5-inchers to go with our 5-lber.

Proof bigger isn’t always better. Believe the analogy would go something like this:

Awesome job guys!

Will zander eat ANYTHING???

Pretty sure @leo.silencio stuck this one on a dang Christmas tree ornament:


1. IA: Still searching for missing boater on Mississippi R.

Dangit. Found his boat spinning in circles just north of the Cassville Ferry Landing — investigators believe he fell out of the boat and wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Prayers to the family.

2. MN: Zeebz found in Walker Lake.

Otter Tail County.

3. SD: Possible reg changes comin’.

Or already came?

4. MI’s battling invasive mudsnails.

And apparently fish won’t touch this flavor of escargot.

5. Cali has floating restrooms?

Guess we do too…in the winter:

Tip of the Day

Jon Thelen likes using baits that stand out from the crowd when he’s sharing a spot with other ice-heads. Says one of those baits is the 1/16-oz Lindy Quiver Spoon ‘cuz it’s made out of tin and has a slow-fluttery drop that looks natural to ’em, like a dying minnow:

> “One side is either metallic silver or metallic gold. So you’ve got the flash of a natural minnow, but also a little bit of color you’re adding on the other side.”

Especially likes the bait during early-ice ‘cuz it catches a little bit of everything (crappies, perch, walleyes, etc). Jon says the fall turnover stabilizes oxygen levels across the board, so early-ice you can get into fish that are all eating the same thing — in the same areas — on the edges of deep water:

Meme of the Day

Saw a hilarious truck meme on Sea Foam’s Instagram page and had to snipe it. Anyone else have a Lund that’ll always be their first born? Lol:

Shot of the Day

Maybe Border View Lodge should start putting defrosters in their charter boats? #TheIceManCometh

Good news is they don’t need to go too far: More and more walleyes are piling in the Rainy River — from Lake of the Woods — every day. Way less boat traffic this time of year too….

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