Reaching for the Stars

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Trophy walleyes are a lot like celebrities.

You read a lot about their glamorous lives, but you seldom get to know them. You see them on the covers of magazines and featured in television specials, but then it's hard to separate the fantasy from the reality.

Celebrities don't shop for groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly. They send someone else to do it. They don't buy their clothes at local department stores, and they don't work out at the city rec center.

When they do venture out into public, they go to great lengths to stay out of the public eye. A chauffeur delivers them to the theater where they dash inside, or they pull up to the side entrance of a posh restaurant where a host whisks them into a private dining room.

Are big walleyes really so different? They, too, go to great lengths to avoid the public eye. They don't frequent areas that are heavily congested. They become nocturnal for most of the year. They spend the majority of their lives in deep-water hangouts or roaming vast expanses of open water.

The trick for those of us who desire to get up close and personal with a big, beautiful walleye is to meet them on their own terms. For many of us, the best opportunity to make that happen is during the month of April where the need to procreate will lead the biggest walleyes into predictable locations with their preferred spawning habitat.

In general, that means wind-blown points, shallow humps, rock reefs or feeder streams in our natural lakes and reservoir systems. In our rivers, it means gravel, shale or rubble substrate in areas where current is present to help incubate the eggs and distribute the hatching fry.

Anglers know all this. Visit almost any notable body of walleye water this time of year and there will be large groups congregated in specific areas, usually slipping the current and bouncing leadhead jigs or trolling crankbaits on lead-core line along current breaks and dropoffs.

Those approaches take their share of big walleyes that slide into the depths during daylight hours and ignore most of what goes on around them, save for those brief moments each day when something catches their eye or they feel the urge to feed.

But, you have to enjoy playing bumper boats and winding through traffic like a race car on pit road to stay on the fish.

While many anglers are hovering over those areas like fat cats waiting to pounce on vulnerable prey, there is another much smaller group that truly has the skinny on big spring walleyes.

They are the ones who go where few other anglers venture. They are the loners present on every body of water who causes others to ask, 'What's that fool think he's doing there?'"

Chances are, he or she is in the shallows and on a big walleye pattern that isn't always easy to fish, but can be extraordinarily rewarding.

It makes sense, both biologically and sociably.

Celebrities get paid to look good. They never know when a television or still camera will be present, and the sooner they can get rid

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