Catching eating-size walleyes for the skillet is fun. But, who wouldn’t want to see a 10-pound walleye in the net?
Big fish get big because they’re wary. They’ve got what it takes to avoid the hazards of the fish-eat-fish world they live in, and they’re tough to fool into biting. That’s what makes hoisting one into the boat something special.
Two things are needed to have that dream come true. One is attention to detail. You can’t have the fish of a lifetime up to the surface only to have your line snap.
The other important ingredient is to fish where big fish live and fish for them when they’re most vulnerable. Your local river, reservoir or lake may hold a handful of big fish, and you may be lucky enough to catch one of them. But, if you want to increase your odds of a trophy, be prepared to travel to trophy destinations at peak fishing times.
Now’s the time to start planning a trip in order to make sure 2008 is the year your dream comes true. Here are suggestions of where to go and when to go there for each season of the calendar…
It’s no secret the western basin of Lake Erie is the walleye capital of the world during the spring. Hundreds of thousands of big fish congregate near the Bass Islands to spawn.
Best month is April, the month when Ted caught his personal best walleye of 12.5 pounds and set a Professional Walleye Trail record of 53.2 pounds for 5 fish! The area is massive. Trolling with boards is the best way to cover water and connect with a 10-pound-plus fish. Cold water temperatures are the norm that time of year. The water will range from 45 to 55 degrees F. What the temperature gauge can help reveal is what trolling tactic is likely to be most effective. The rule of thumb: crankbaits work best under 50 degrees and spinner rigs and nightcrawlers work best over 50 degrees.
For cranks, try Reef Runners, deep diving Rogues and Husky Jerks. Be sure to try purple, blue prism and firetiger but experiment with other colors, too. Let the fish tell you what they want on any given day. Use 10-pound Gamma High Performance Co-Polymer line, on line counter reels. Ten-pound diameter is the basis on which the dive curves in the book, “Precision Trolling” is based.
Often called the Troller’s Bible, this book makes trolling at specific depths easy. Simply look at how deep you want your lures to run and see how much line to let out to get them there.
Productive depths are usually 10 to 20 feet down over 30 to 50 feet of water. Go slow, 1.5 to 2 mph. Use planer boards to take baits away from the boat. Troll in S-turns to cover more water and vary the speed of the lures. As you turn, lures on the ‘inside’ will slow down, and those on the ‘outside’ will speed up. Use your GPS to mark locations where you connect with fish and vary your trolling path. You’ll soon have an idea of the exact location and size of the school. Humminbird’s new side imaging technology marks suspended schools of fish off to the side of the boat.
Trolling spinners requires