1_TargetWalleye blasts

Tour winning baits, Postspawn buddy system, What is a fidget spinner

Today’s Top 4

 Hjelm’s NWT winning deets. 

Duane Hjelm (right) won the Sakakawea NWT event with a 2-day (10 fish) bag of 45.41 lbs to take home the $86K! His bag — and bragging rights — were anchored by a spawned-out 32″ gravel lizard:

> Duane: “The key to the trolling pattern was finding water clarity of about 2-4′. If it was too dirty, they would short-strike it. They were missing the bait.

> “We targeted an old breakline with a rock-to-sand transition…making 1/2-mile passes pulling Berkley Flicker Shads and Flicker Minnows right through them [walleyes] in about 8-12′. People were live-bait rigging in the area, but it seemed like I was getting bigger bites by staying out a bit.”

Gotta love when artificials outfish live bait. Duane also said that 2 of the 10 fish he weighed were caught jigging 1/4-oz jigs with 4″ Berkley Gulp Minnows (smelt color):

> “The jig program was really a spot-on-a-spot deal. We found one little hump that comes up to 6′ on the top, but has deep water all around it. We could never get the deeper ones to bite, but when they came up, they were ready to feed.

> “This is life changing…money is going to come and go…but the memories I’ve made out here with my friends and co-anglers, and that trophy, is going to be talked about forever. Right when you walk in the house, that baby is going to be sitting right there.”

Wouldn’t blame you for putting that trophy right where people have to trip on it to get in your house. Seen ’em kept in stranger places *cough* Randy Gaines *cough* lol:

Congrats Duane! Way to get it done.

The “post-spawn buddy system” for shallow walleyes. 

IDO just got back from spanking the walleyes on Devils Lake using a 1-2 punch we like to call the “post-spawn buddy system.” The program: one guy in the boat throws hardware (crankbaits) while the other pitches plastics. A great way to track ’em down no matter where you’re fishing for early-season ‘eyes.

The technique works around new weed growth, but for a real smashfest target: shallow gravel + wind-blown shorelines = loaded with fish. A lot of the males will still be up in the 4-10’ range with the females showing back up to fill their empty bellies.

James likes searching with the Rapala Shad Dancer (left) in the 4-7′ range, and switches to the Storm Smash Shad (right) when he needs to get a little extra depth:

If the fish don’t chomp the hardware, they’ll usually take a 1/4-oz VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig paired with a BFishN Tackle Moxie or Pulse-R Paddle Tail. Also a great bait to throw once you’ve connected with a couple fish, and want to slow things down to really work over the spot for the less-aggressive fish.

See it in action:
#Works

Identify a walleye by its tail. 

Walleyes usually (not always) have a distinct white tip on the lower lobe of their tail. There was no mistakin’ this one tagged by University of Regina fisheries-nut Becca Eberts on Buffalo Pound Lake, SK:

Now just ‘cuz, here’s the hindmost parts of some other animals you’d rather not see:

WTHeck is a fidget spinner? 

> A “fidget spinner” is a type of stress-relieving toy that’s supposed to help people who have trouble focusing or fidgeting by acting as a release mechanism for nervous energy or stress.

Um…. Okay…. How about the original stress-relieving spinner:

Plus the 9 ball bearings in that Okuma Helios SX are way more smooth….

News

1. Lake Erie: Best ‘eye fishing in years…

…for big fish and big numbers:

> Estimates from 2016 put the Erie walleye population around 33 million and nearly half of those were from the large 2014 year class.

> We have walleye living over 20 years up here and we had one of the biggest year classes we’ve ever seen in 2003. Those fish are 14 years old now and they’re the ones providing all the 10- to 13-lbers that have been caught recently.

Here’s what one of those oldies-but-goodies looks like:

2. IL: Another possible record caught.

Not sure how many different records have fallen this year, but it’s gotta be a record in itself? Multiple whitefish and burbot registered, plus a brown bullhead and that massive hybrid crappie.

This time it’s a 36-lb 4-oz (50.25″ x 25″) tiger musky caught by Terry Livingston Sr. on a Worden’s Original Rooster Tail #OldSchool

3. Bagley uses “heat compression molding.”

These aren’t your grandad’s crankbaits! Bagley Baits uses a process called “heat compression molding” (HCM) to press in channels for more/different weights and extreme flexibility in action.

Also gives it a really smooth outer core so they need less base coats, less paint, less varnish = better action. Looks slick:

4. MN: Camp Fishing Classic on Gull, Jun 17.

All proceeds benefit the campers and programs at Confidence Learning Center. Plus where else can you get: a full-day guide trip + three meals + a chance at a bunch of prizes = for just $200. Crazy good deal!

More info here from some shady guy in sunglasses:

5. ND: Confiscated gear sale.

Maybe gitcha a good deal on a stick o’ dynamite or walleye hand grenades.

6. Have you seen our TW gear yet?

Hailey M. said the only reason she caught this walleye was ‘cuz she was rockin’ that digital camo TW hoodie! Okay, not really…but it did get her in the email:

Bay Rat Lures giveaway!

How ’bout around $200-ish worth of stickbaits from Bay Rat Lures?! Including the Long Extra Deep Diver that’ll hit 25′ while flatline trolling! Those tasty color patterns [heart-eyes emoji] and profiles will have you covered on any body of water. Just click here to enter your email addy. Good luck!

Tip of the Day

> Fish locations tend to be shallower this time of year and overhead boat traffic can spook fish, so most early-season trolling works well with a big wind. Wind also helps to concentrate fish on shorelines and make for a prime trolling run.

> Some clear lakes will never have a good crankbait bite (with the exception of maybe dusk or after dark), and some lakes that are murky and turbid enough to enjoy a good shallow crankbait bite no matter what the wind does.

> I start with #5 Rapala Shad Raps or #5 Storm Smash Shads (for rattle) long-lined on 10- to 20-lb Sufix 832 between 75-150′ behind the boat depending on the depth I’m trying to achieve. As a general rule, be as close to the bottom as you can — often “ticking” it occasionally without rolling or fouling.
> In clearer systems, consider Off Shore Tackle planer boards to run your baits away from the boat towards shore, to avoid driving over fish. Some well-known systems like Upper Red Lake, Leech Lake, and others allow you to pull shallow-diving crankbaits on boards in as shallow as 4′ and catch walleyes like crazy.

Keep reading Joel’s secrets, or ask him exactly what you want to know, here.

Meme of the Day

Blinded by love during the engagement?

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Sun’s out, fins out at the MN Governor’s Fishing Opener in downtown St. Cloud:

See…you can make little fish look cool 😉

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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 quit sports in high school because they were interfering with his fishing time. Get him at brett@targetwalleye.com

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