Outdoors column: Change up for Walleyes

It didn’t take long to put the first walleye in the boat, nor the next, and so on and so on.

In fact the trip we recently made to the Northwest Angle was crazy good and catching fish was easy.

Air traffic controller William Anlauf of Green Bay,  Wisconsin made a change to catch this dandy walleye.  Submitted photo
Air traffic controller William Anlauf of Green Bay,
Wisconsin made a change to catch this dandy walleye. Submitted photo

Even better, all of the fish came on a jig.

A jig tipped with a frozen shiner, half a crawler or even a plastic Gulp tail was all you needed to hook up.

There were a few anglers slowly trolling bottom bouncers with spinners and crawlers and they were catching fish but I’ve always felt jigging is the most fun way to get it done. The time to use a bouncer is when jigging slows down and we’re just about at that time.

When water temps warm up a walleye’s metabolism picks up and faster presentations like bouncers and spinners really come into play.

Somewhere in between you can drag live bait rigs with a sliding sinker or if you’re working rocks then maybe a light sliding bouncer with a plain snell.

Shortly thereafter you can expect the spinner and crawler technique to really kick in and can keep on producing for the rest of the summer. Heavier bouncers in the two to three ounce range make it easier to stay in control of the bait and the straighter up and down you can get it to run while staying in contact with the bottom the better. You don’t have to constantly drag the bait but you better be able to drop it back and feel it hit the bottom right away.

That drop back is a super effective way to nail fish that have hit the bait and missed the hooks by way, and was a secret technique that top tournament team of Pete Thiry of Cambridge and the late Brad Bakken of Stanchfield used to help them win a big tourney on Mille Lacs.

They used longer rods to create more slack and would immediately drop the rod back and let the rig settle for a bit before picking up the slack to see if the missed fish had returned. It didn’t produce every time but did result in extra fish hooked and boated and a lot bigger check.

Blade color can make a difference at times but a combination of chartreuse and orange always produces and is a good starting point and depends a lot on the available baitfish.

That could mean orange and chartreuse for perch, or white for white bass, or maybe purple for smelt.

The thing is, if you’re marking fish but not caching (or if things just slow down) a change in color might be all you need to pick things up again. See you on the water.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.