Catch Pressured Fish

By Bob Jensen

It was a couple of years back.  Some friends and I had gathered for a day of fishing.  The word was out that the walleyes on one particular lake were on the bite.  When we arrived at the hot lake, there were many, many other anglers there also. This created an abundance of fishing pressure and made the walleyes change their ways.  They quit doing what they had been doing, and that made the catching tougher for the folks who didn’t adapt.  If you adapted, you caught walleyes: If you didn’t, you didn’t.  Here’s what we did to catch walleyes when the catching got tough.

The walleyes on previous days had been susceptible to a wide variety of presentations.  Crankbaits, spinner rigs, live-bait rigs and jigs were all working.  At that time, there weren’t very many boats on the lake, but the anglers that were there were getting bit.

When we hit the water, it was apparent that the news of the fast walleye action was out.  We arrived at the boat ramp as the sun was coming up and the parking lot was already full.  The best spots were covered with boats.  We went to a structure that had been very productive on previous days, and there were at least twenty boats there.  We fished a little while, but realized quickly that we needed to do something different if we wanted to get bit.

The previously productive spot was a large reef, and the walleyes had been scattered all over it.  They weren’t any more.  We moved out to the edge of the reef where there were no boats.  We slowly cruised around with an eye on the sonar looking for fish.  We found that now, instead of being scattered all over the reef, they were schooled tightly in small groups.

When we found a group we fished them.  And, instead of the fish eating whatever we used as they had in previous days, they were very selective.  They wanted live bait rigs tipped with either a leech or a crawler.  They would also hit spinner rigs, but they were very color selective:  They wanted a blue blade.  No other color was nearly as productive.  We had to present our baits in a certain way if we wanted to get bit.

When we caught a fish, it seemed to activate the others in the group.  We would usually catch a couple more, then they’d shut off.  When that happened we went looking for another group.

We used a variety of different types of live-bait rigs.  We even dropped some slip-bobber/leech rigs on the walleyes.  But the action wasn’t as fast as we had hoped.  So we did what we usually do when the fish are playing hard to catch.  We moved to a different lake.  One that wasn’t getting so much pressure, had darker water, and was home to a good population of largemouth bass.  We caught a few walleyes, then switched to bass.  We threw Ocho worms on a jighead along the deep weedline.  Action was good.  So was the camaraderie.  Catching fish with friends is a good reason to go fishing.

For the next few months we can expect fishing pressure to have an effect on the fish we’re chasing.  If you keep the things we just talked about in mind, you can continue to experience success even when you’re sharing the fish with lots of other anglers.

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