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Walleye Tips from Bob Jensen

  • Some anglers believe that a particular lure will enable an angler to catch the most or the biggest fish.  It’s almost like it’s a magic bait.  While it’s certainly true that some baits are very good day-in and day-out, successful anglers understand that catching fish is usually a result of considering a few little things.  Details that don’t seem to be real important are often very important.  Some of those details follow.

Line diameter can play a very important role in catching more fish, and even in getting more fish to bite.  I remember a walleye tournament that I participated in many years ago.  It was early August and the walleyes wanted jigs tipped with either a leech or a nightcrawler.  The fish were on the bottom in 30-35 feet of water.  This depth typically calls for a jig in the quarter ounce range.  However, the walleyes were hittin’ and spittin’ the quarter ounce size.  That usually means that they want a lighter jig, probably one in the eighth ounce size.  We were using 8 and 10 pound test line with the larger jigs.  To get the smaller jig down to the fish effectively, we had to go to 6 pound test line.  The 6 pound test had smaller line diameter, so it had less water resistance, which enabled us to get the small jigs down to the fish.  Going from 8-10 pound test line and quarter ounce jigs to 6 pound line and eighth ounce jigs enabled us to do very well in that tournament.

Lure color can be a critical factor in angler success.  It used to be thought that “color catches fishermen, not fish” and lure color doesn’t matter.  It’s true that sometimes lure color doesn’t, but there are times, way more times than we might think, that a particular color can be the difference between a few bites and a memorable number of bites.  Usually, start with a subtle, natural appearing color bait in clear water and a brighter color in stained or dirty water.

Another color idea:  When using jigs with plastic bodies, use a jighead of 1 color and a plastic body of another color.  By doing so, you’re showing the fish 2 different colors, which increases the odds of showing them the color that they want on that day.  An orange head/chartreuse body or a pink head/white body combination are time tested favorites for walleyes.

When fishing with a spinner, either a spinnerbait for bass or a spinner rig for walleyes, again keep water clarity in mind.  Go with a larger blade in water that has limited visibility and a smaller blade in clear water.  The larger blade creates more flash and vibration and makes your bait easier for fish to find, which is helpful when visibility is limited.  In clear water, the fish can see better, so additional flash and vibration often aren’t as important and at times can actually reduce the number of bites.  However, in clear water, use the largest spinner that the fish will hit.  This will usually result in bigger fish, and will also get the fish’s attention from further distances.

Last thing for now:  A bait that makes noise will help fish find your bait when they need help finding it, as in stained water.  Crankbaits that rattle will provide more noise.  Also, try a crankbait that runs deeper than necessary.  If you’re fishing in water 5-7 feet deep, try a crankbait that runs 7-8 feet deep.  It will be running into and bouncing off the bottom, which creates more noise and helps the fish find your bait.

Usually there is no one factor that will enable you to catch more fish.  There are lots of little things that you can do to be more successful on the water.  If you keep that in mind, the chances of you catching more fish will improve greatly.

To see new and old episodes of Fishing the Midwest television with author Bob Jensen, plus fishing articles and fishing videos, go to fishingthemidwest.com

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