Target Walleye/Ice email

Slow crank post-spawners, Muddy water tip, “Area Lake” found

Today’s Top 5

Slow crankin’ for post-spawn walleyes.   

Didja know that Troy Lindner isn’t just a bass fisherman? Sometimes he even catches walleye on purpose! Lol he’s actually one heck of a multi-species stick, which I think is a prerequisite to carrying that last name…. Anyhoo, here’s how he slow cranks for post-spawn walleyes:

> Troy: As walleyes wrap up their spawn, they begin moving out to adjacent flats and shallow-water structure. Crankbaits can be an excellent tool for intercepting these wandering walleyes, which can be scattered anywhere between 4-12′.

In this screenshot, green = go time:

> Troy: Bottom contact is important, but don’t use baits that dive too deep as they won’t run well in shallow water.

> Make sure you’re fishing your cranks slowly this time of year…that’s often the only way to get bit. A couple of retrieves work well in the spring: the “slow and steady,” or “pull and pause.”

Balsa cranks (OGs!) can be super effective these first few weeks of the season when water temps are still in the low- to mid-50s. Balsa ‘cuz it has that subtle roll you want in cold water. Rapala Shad Raps and Bagley Balsa Shads are a couple that kill it early on:

Since balsa cranks run light, a lot of guys/gals like throwing ’em on Sufix NanoBraid ‘cuz it’s ridiculously thin and smooth casting.

With most any walleye presentation I (Brett) recommend adding a fluorocarbon leader to the main line. My go-to “joiner” is the double-uni knot ‘cuz it’s 1) the easiest to tie, and 2) hasn’t failed me yet:

Tom Keenan’s leading the Lake Winnebago NWT… 

…after day 1 with 14.79 lbs on 5 fish. Good to be at the head of the line when there’s a record 165-boat field! Hammed full of some o’ the best in the biz:

Of course he’s not gonna give up all the goods halfway through a 2-day tourney, but here’s a few interesting things he said about what he’s doing/seeing:

> We’ve had a terrible week of weather…the water is still cold [dropped 10 degrees the week leading up to the tourney]. A lot of the fish are way, way upriver and haven’t come back yet…we’re catching a small portion of the fish.

> I call it a garbage or a scrounge tournament. I caught 1 doing this technique, then I caught 1 doing something different. I think caught fish on 6 different spots today…I was seen on a lot of different spots.

> All I can say is that I spent a lot of this week on my Humminbird Helix 10. I would look at the spots on my LakeMaster and then diagnosis them mainly on my Side Imaging. It’s really a spot-on-the-spot pattern. As for baits, the TV cameras won’t lie tomorrow…I’ve got something good going.

> I’m hoping it’s rainy and cold again, just because I love garbage or scrounge tournaments. I’ve won a lot of money in these types of tournaments. Either way, I’m anticipating catching some fish tomorrow. I think I’m fishing the right pattern for the 3- and 4-lbers.

Case you didn’t know: Keenan’s got over $1 mil [!] in career fishin’ earnings as of 3 years ago…not sure what that tally’s up to now, but know he’s cashed a pile of checks since then too.

Randy’s making Gaines for 2nd. 

Tight weights make it anybody’s game today — the final day of the Winnebago NWT — and one of those somebodies is Randy Gaines of Nibble This Charters…which might just be the best name ever lol. He hopped around and scrounged up 14.18 lbs to put him in 2nd:

Said they used the whole day — literally down to the final seconds — to get their 5:

> …made a long run to a place where we only had 20 minutes to fish…even set a timer on my phone. We made one trolling pass, went 100′ and the Off Shore Tackle planer board went back…was so happy to have 4 [fish]. I made one more turn to manipulate a breakline…when I turned, the outside board went back. Looked at my phone and I had 9 seconds to spare.

How’s that for a buzzer-beater?!

I had the chance to fish with Randy on day 1 of last year’s Lake Winnebago NWT. Can’t say enough good things about him — guy is an incredible stick and I still hurt from laughing.

Today’s weigh-in starts at 3 CST which you can watch live here.

I’ll follow up with bait/technique info of the top finishers in the next TW email. Why you should care: The caliber of fish these teams grind out on heavily-pressured waters — in brutal conditions — is downright impressive. No matter how tough the bite is, someone always figures ’em out….

Don’t see that everyday… 

Tom Boley’s (@tomboleyfishing) just out there playing MythBusters. #BadGoodLuckBanana

Bass-head Ron Johnson (@rjfishingpro) stumbled into a grown one while chasin’ basses in AZ. #DesertWalleyes

They say when the cows are feeding, so are walleyes…Chris Nagel (@chris.nagel.359) proved it works for zander too:

Rylee Olguin’s (@pizza_punx345) first CO wallygator ever was a funny-lookin bugger’. Sorta looks like a redfish + sucker hybrid to me lol:

Check the gnarly dorsal fin on guide Sid Johnson’s (@sidjohnson123) Door County, WI quillback:

“Area Lake” finally found! 

Seems like the BIG fish are always biting there, and we finally found it! Just take the first left after this sign:

Any lake could turn into “Area Lake” when you’re throwing Rapala Original Floaters this time of year….

Btw if you need a good laugh (who doesn’t?) this “High Speed Enter Net” video with the Lindner clan absolutely made my day [crying-laughing emoji]. Enjoy:


1. MN: Gilkey/Flemming win Big Stone MWC.

Fish-heads Nate Gilkey and Shawn Flemming won the Big Stone Lake MWC last weekend, and took home $13,808.50 in cash + prizes. Only weighed in 6 fish over 2 days, but had a seriously impressive 5-lb average! Here’s a couple of ’em:

They have now won in every circuit (AIM, MWC, and MTT) that has fished Big Stone = #Dialed

> Nate: The ice had only gone out 6 days prior to the event so we figured the fish would be spawning, or post-spawn, based on water temp and time of year.

> Pitching jig and minnow combos was our ticket like most the field. We used Larson’s Quality Jigs Tear Drop Jigs and Northland Fire-Balls…switched colors often. It was more the area we fished for big fish…was completely separate from where all the male ‘unders’ were being caught.

> Using electronics [on Big Stone] this time of year to find fish is challenging…the fish are so shallow (males were being caught in 6″ at times). Your electronics are key in finding rocky areas that may hold fish, but fishing the spots is really the only way to determine If fish are present….

They’re headed back to Big Stone for the MTT this weekend. Nate said the water levels are starting to come back down to normal now — and the spawn is nearly complete — so the bite should be good. Keep it rolling fellas!

2. OH: $50K “smart buoys” went in yesterday on Lake Erie.

Can text the buoy and it’ll text you back real-time conditions, including: water temps, wind speed and direction, and wave height.

3. MN: What up Veterans and those currently serving!

The 6th annual “Pay it Forward” event is still accepting applications for their Jul 1-4 event that honors, recognizes and celebrates all veterans. If you’re a veteran — or know one who might be interested — this is a chance to get a 3 night/2 day all expenses paid fishing trip to Lake of the Woods. More info here.

4. MN: Piles of gutted fish found on the shore of Mille Lacs.

5. What’s the NPAA all about?

NPAA = National Professional Anglers Association is composed of professional guides, tourney anglers, fishin’ educators and industry folk who are passionate about the sport.

There’s no better way to learn about the business side of the sport than to network with pros who’ve had success on and off the water — that’s where the NPAA comes in…. Oh, and getting product discounts never hurts either lol. Some more info from NPAA prez Brian Bashore:

6. MN: Charity MN Fishing Challenge comin’ up.

Happenin’ Jun 1 on Gull Lake. This family-friendly tourney has raised nearly $2 mil for MN Adult & Teen Challenge since 2009! #Stout

7. Bagley Rumble Bs on sale.

FishUSA has ’em buy 1 get 1 free for today only.

8. MN: Spring fishin’ gear raffle…

…to benefit Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters happenin’ May 8 at Able Seedhouse & Brewery in Minneapolis.

9. WY: Canoes and ‘yaks get checked for invasives too.

Tip of the Day

Interesting Ross Robertson + John Gillman write-up, few excerpts below:

> This is one time of year that driving around the lake at 30mph is very productive as we look for the mud transitions. Muddy water becomes like an invisible fence to help anglers eliminate water without ever wetting a line or even coming off plane. Make a big lake small, and a small lake even smaller.

> …this pattern applies to many inland lakes and nearly all of the Great lakes, but doesn’t apply to…bodies of water that have year-round muddy water. Fish in those types environments seem to adapt and break typical walleye behavior.

> Fish too clean of water (real blue) and you are likely to not see, mark or catch much. Fish too dirty (cardboard color) of water and all you do is make yourself sick with the number of seemingly uncatchable marks on the fish finder. It’s that in-between color that’s the sweet spot. This water is generally a little green under ideal conditions, to a little chalky.

> …look at the big engine’s cavitation plate to determine clarity before setting up. For me it’s a control, the distance never changes and it serves as a way for other anglers to stay on the same page when discussing water clarity in different areas of the lake.

> One key item to be aware of that will drastically alter clarity is bottom composition. …rock reefs are the first to clean up. A loose mud silt bottom takes more time to clear when compared to a hard compacted mud bottom.

> While water clarity is likely the most important factor, temperature is a close second…has as much to do with bait as anything…. I believe that is the biggest reason walleyes are void in the super clean “blue” areas [often a few degrees colder]. No bait = no walleyes…it’s that simple.

> Gillman typically puts his baits in the top half of the water column, if not the top 10’…many of these fish in the spring time are just post spawn and “recovering” from the stresses it causes. The other factor is lack of productivity…water down there isn’t nearly as clean as layers closer to the surface.

Little different than how they play in the mud down south — whatever works:

Meme of the Day

Been on both sides of this one! Spotted on Worldwide Marine’s Facebook page:

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Jordan Osborn (@huntfishozzie5) put his little sis on her new PB walleye — twice in one day! — pulling Berkley Flicker Shads and Jointed Flicker Shads in eastern WA. Congrats!

This’ll be the first spring those Jointed Flicker Shads have been available. Reminds me I need to order a few of those “firetail” patterns I was drooling on at ICAST last year. FishUSA has ’em in stock here.

Package says the #7 size dives 7-9′, but the dive curve shows you can get ’em down to 17-19′ when 200′ back with 10-lb line.

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Who is Target Walleye
Target Walleye — 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 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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