Target Walleye/Ice email

Sprengel smashfest, 18 lb walleye caught, Fly pulling for dummies

Will have a lot more video, pics and deets from the Lake Winnebago NWT soon-ish — still wading trolling through footage…. #SleepWhenYoureDead
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Today’s Top 5

Sprengel thwacked ’em at the Winnebago NWT.

Korey “hot stick” Sprengel is gettin’ pretty good at hoisting up oversized checks! Guess it’s no surprise since he does it with oversized fish all the time…. His 2-day bag of 35.33 lbs at the NWT Lake Winnebago qualifier landed him an $82,635 [!!] payday:

He spent most of his time fishing up in Butte Des Morts ‘cuz the fish “were further along in their post-spawn migration” = few extra days of recovering, feeding and bulking up. Guy is incredibly fish-smart:

> “I prefished this event for 6 days and never fished the main lake. I wasn’t going to get suckered into fishing the main lake and catching skinny walleyes. A lot of people were catching limits of 18-20” fish there, but they’d only weigh 13-14 lbs…those same fish in the upper lakes weighed 16-17 lbs.

> “I targeted shallow, active fish in 3′ or less. I was fishing weeds [curly-leaf pondweed], cane beds and rockpiles. The amount of flow we had from the snow and rain really set the fish up in certain areas. My practice wasn’t a lot of fishing…it was a lot of looking at new weedbeds and rock piles.”

Caught most of his fish throwing a “chameleon pearl” Berkley Cutter 90 Shallow into the wind — bait is just 3.5″ long but weighs 3/8-oz. Said he chose that color because “Winnebago has a tannic color, and white baits really stand out and pop.”

> “On Winnebago, you know real quick if it’s going to happen. I would spend 10 min on each spot and then move if they weren’t there. I threw back a lot of 18- and 19-inchers. I threw back skinny 20s just to get a fat 19-incher.”

That’s how you win these things folks! He ran 20 spots on day 1 and 15 spots on day 2…in the pouring rain, 20mph E winds and 39° temps. Best way to stay warm on days like that? Catching these:

BIG congrats dude!

Self-proclaimed “salmon fisherman” pulled flies for 2nd.

Check out this new-to-me technique a lot of local pros were running. Russell Gahagan dialed it in for 32.36 lbs (2-day total), getting him an $18,506 lump ‘o dough:

> “We pulled flies [into the current at 0.4-0.8 mph] in the Fox River. Used a 1-oz pencil weight on a 3-way set up and ran 2 flies…one with a 6′ leader and one with a 10′ leader.

> “It’s totally a reaction bite — they just can’t resist that thing coming by. I like to hold the rod straight out the side, snap it forward and let it hit the bottom. The darting motion is what those walleyes can’t resist.”

This Walleye Central drawing should learn ya what the rig looks like:

> “Every time I fish [flies] it intrigues me more. Tried it other places and it’s never worked anywhere else. Don’t know why it only works on Winnebago…it’s the oddest thing…but it’s amazing how many walleyes are caught on flies, especially in May.”

Caught 8 of his 10 fish pulling flies in the Fox River, and 2 came trolling Salmo Hornets behind Off Shore Tackle Planer Boards in Butte Des Morts. Solid finish Mr. Salmon’er against some of the best walleye nuts in the world!

Pulling flies for [dummies] Fox River walleyes.

Pulling flies is a killer tactic on the Winnebago system — one that I [the dummy] have never seen back home. Hopped in the boat with local guide Troy Peterson and he gave me the rundown:

Wow! Mega 18-lb walleye shatters NY record!!

Brian Hartman caught himself a St. Lawrence River hawg-belly that tipped the scales at 18.2 lbs and measured 32″ x 21″ [mind-blown emoji]. Caught throwing an unnamed swimbait. #RecordBreaker

Believe it’s the new state record for “Noo Yawk.” Previous record was a 16-09 caught at Mystic Lake by Thomas Reed in Jan 2009.

One bait I always have tied on.

Gotta be honest: Considered skipping our local walleye league on Gull Lake, MN last night since we didn’t have a chance to pre-fish — some seriously stiff competition in it! But then how would we ever learn anything? Took about 1.5 hours to figure out the pattern, but leaned into ’em once we did.

The post-spawners were riding high in the water column (5-10′ off bottom) and chasing big clouds of shiners/baitfish. My wife Amanda (23-weeks prego!) cracked this pair o’ 26-inchers snap-jigging a 1/4-oz VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig paired with a 4″ Impulse Smelt Minnow. #Money

We ended up throwing back 4 or 5 other “overs” and keeping 2 “unders” to land us in 2nd place with 15.99 lbs. Big congrats to Matt Magnan and Doug Erickson on grinding out a solid 6-fish bag for 18.6 lbs and taking 1st.

Now back to the bait: Have that combo tied on no matter what lake I’m heading to. Not sure the jig color makes a big difference since snap-jigging is mostly a reaction bite, but Amanda has been whoopin’ up on me with the “pink tiger UV” VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig:

I like to rig it with 10-lb Sufix 832 Advanced Superline and a 3-5′ leader of 10-lb Sufix Castable Invisiline 100% Fluorocarbon. Smooth + strong combo and can still feel ’em “donk” the bait on the drop.

Have a couple favorite setups for this depending how I’m working the bait:

Snap jigging: I like my 7′ ML Okuma Helios Spinning Rod with a size 30 Okuma Inspira reel. Has a ton of power and fast action — important for the ones that pick it up on the drop when you don’t have time to crank up on ’em before the hookset.

Dragging and slow-rolling: I use a 7′ M Favorite Jack Hammer with a moderate-fast action. Think it’s the only rod I own that’s not a fast or extra-fast action — usually use it for pulling light Lindy rigs.

Rod action vs power can be a little confusing…so here’s a cool graphic from a Mike Cork write-up for you visual learners:


1. MN: 9-lb average wins Pool 4 MTT.

Matt Buesking and Bill Schneider put together a 36.91-lb bag on just 4 fish to win the MN Tournament Trail on the Mississippi River’s Pool 4 in Red Wing:

> Bill: “We initially started with Dubuque rigs which had produced some fish throughout the week. With no fish on late Sunday morning we switched to pitching jigs and plastics on a current seam away from the crowds, which produced these 4.

> “Even though we had those 4 [tourney is a 5-fish limit], we still didn’t know if we had enough to win with all the good fisherman in the tournament. Not sure if we really were doing things much different…just happened to find the right spot the fish were traveling through.”

To me, fish of that caliber mean they were for sure doing something differently.

Lol nicely done, fellas!

2. MB: Walleye movement study underway.

> The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (federal) has recently been out on the Red River implanting acoustic tags in walleye to study their movement throughout the Red River and Lake Winnipeg.

> Info gained will be very valuable, and so are the tags themselves. Anglers and are encouraged to release any Floy-tagged walleye, or one with noticeable sutures on the belly. As of last week many female walleye had not yet spawned.

3. WI: Massive fish die-off on Winnebago…

…thanks to VHS. Who’d a thunk something so simple could such a major impact on a fishery:

Okay, different kind of VHS…this one a virus that affects fish:

> Most of the dead fish were freshwater drum (sheepshead) but there were also some carp, crappie, perch, largemouth bass and bluegill.

Literally saw thousands while pre-fishing…but never saw a dead walleye.

4. MN: Stanton/Olson win Zippel Bay ice-out pike tourney…

…on Lake of the Woods. John Stanton and Brycen Olson weighed a record 81.13 lbs for 12 fish. Total of 34 gators over 40″ were weighed during the contest. Big fish went 20.2 lbs. Full results and some pics here.

5. OH wants a $100 mil cleanup of Erie algae.

Need a math nut to figure out the cost per zebra mussel. #ChaChing

6. Newell Brands plans to sell Pure Fishing.

Curious to see who scoops ’em up, or some of their brands: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Fenwick, etc.

7. What’s Phantom Lures got up their sleeve?

Probably know their name from the muskie world, but they’ve also got a sick lineup of walleye cranks designed here in MN — check ’em out.

They posted a teaser pic on the socialz of a new bait being released this summer at ICAST. Word on the street is it’s a nasty deep-diver that big ‘eyes open their mouths for:

Keep you posted as I can dig up more info….

8. Mustad has new Americas prez.

Came over from Remington.

9. Gun case company SKB gets into tackleboxes.

I’m in if they start making bullet-proof tackle trays…..

10. Garmin marine revenue up 9% in Q1 but…

…was “driven by the recent Navionics acquisition.”

11. Big ol’ palomino trout caught.

Fish-head Drake Long caught this 3 lb 5 oz (19.5″) palomino trout using a Someday Isle Tackle Shimmerling. Gorgeous fish dude!

First I had heard of that bait — maybe an ice-fishing sleeper?

Friendly reminder – Win a fishing trip!

Hooked Magazine
— Canada’s “favourite” (lol) fishing magazine — has a HUUUUGE sweepstakes going on right now with a chance to win a fly-in fishing trip (for 4) and some other fishin’ goodies worth over $10K! More info here.

Tip of the Day

Never seen this before? My buddy Troy Peterson showed me a slick line-spooling hack using Beadalon Spool Tamers (from the jewelry/sewing industry) to keep his spools of line…spooled. You can get a 25-pack for $12-ish. Great tip!

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Michael Dallager cracked this SoDak beaut off an old flooded driveway:

Rockin’ that Target Walleye digital-camo hoodie — keep you posted when the new apparel drops.

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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