This is the time folks for the men to take the river and catch some nice walleyes. It is not for the weekend warrior that goes out three times a year. It can be cold, wet, uncomfortable at times yet rewarding. It is the best opportunity to catch a trophy fish and to stalk schools of fish trying to fatten up for the winter. With lower light levels, shorter days, and colder temps these tasty fish are ready to be caught. From some remarkable catches on lake Erie to the Dams on the Mississippi River, all these fish want to do is eat.
Tactics can vary from place to place, but one thing remains common. Big baits catch big fish. While you can jig blades and jigs it you want bigger fish, you are going to have to give them a meal. Reef Runners, #9 Shad Raps or bigger are an excellent way to try to get these babies to eat. On the Mississippi River, we like to attach these to a three way rig. Sometimes it may take up to two ounces to get down in the deeper current, but if you mark fish on the graph towards the bottom, this is the way to go. Also bigger blades work well. The nice thing about the big blades is there is no doubt in your mind when a fish hits and if you are in it for the long haul, your arm may thank you verses bouncing a ton of lead off the bottom. There are a lot of ways to lure these fish into the boat, but let’s touch on something else first.
Because time on the water this time of year can be short, it is important to maximize your time on the water and be prepared before you even launch. Before I even leave the house, I will do some homework. That means calling friends who have been out and the local bait shops in the area. These guys will put you on fish if you listen. The key is to listen. I see too often when a bait shop offers on a platter what the bite is and even give a location and I see these people on the water doing something totally different and not catching fish. These guys want and need you to have a successful trip to stay in business.
Last but not least is be prepared for mother nature. Dress warm and dry. It is no fun being out on a windy lake or river and being chilled to the bone. With todays technology in warm weather gear it is easy to stay comfortable without feeling like the Stay Puff Marsh mellow dude. Be safe. With cold water it is easy to have a disaster if you go over and do not have a life jacket on. Hyperthermia is the leading killer this time of year with man over boards. So while you are chasing the elusive walleye, please make sure your here next year to do it again.
That’s it for now. Tight lines guys and hang a hawg!