An Affair of the Heart
prime walleye haunts.
As is the case with the spinner rigs, I troll crankbaits near bottom. I usually expect to find fish somewhere in 10-foot to 22-foot deep water. . Walleye may venture shallower or deeper, but crankbaits and spinner rigs both work best in that range. Cover a variety of depths and let the fish tell you how deep they are that day.
If I find a concentration of walleyes (they usually travel in schools), I like to stop the boat and fish for them by casting and retrieving crankbaits or baited jigs. This same approach works for shore or river anglers.
Other techniques that frequently pay off include jigging heavy, flashy spoons and using a slip bobber to suspend baits just off the bottom. Anglers also catch a lot of fish with just a nightcrawler or minnow on a hook using a split shot or two for weight.
Walleyes, with their reflective eyes, have the reputation of being night feeders, but you can say "fiddlesticks" to that. My absolute best catch came between noon and 1 p.m. on a sunny summer day.
That catch did not make a pattern, however, for my second through fourth best catches came within an hour after dark. I also remember catching a passel of walleyes in the hour before first light three mornings in a row. On one lake just after dawn proved best, but on another lake walleyes started biting between 9 and 10 a.m. When we ice-fished up north, walleyes started pulling bobbers down in the half hour between sunset and full dark.
Besides proving that the fish can and will bite at any time of day, my findings suggest that each successful encounter with walleyes also bites pretty deep into the memory banks. Thanks to the Conservation Department's walleye initiative, your brain may be similarly afflicted.
Tie your own spinner rigs at home while you are watching television or sitting out on your patio. After completing only a few, you will be an expert. For the most savings, buy clevises, blades, beads and hooks in bulk from fishing equipment suppliers.
Start with two hooks (I prefer size 4 hooks - a standard eye hook for the rear and a turned back eye for the front.) To the tag-end of a spool of 12-pound test monofilament line, snell the front hook, leaving at least 6 inches of line below the hook. Tie the second hook with a clinch or Palomar knot so that its eye is about 2 inches below the eye of the front hook. Trim the second knot close.
For instructions on how to tie both knots, consult the Conservation Department booklet, "An Introduction to Fishing," which is available free at nature centers and regional offices or by writing "An Introduction to Fishing," Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.
Cut the line from the spool about 24 inches up from the hooks and string on about three beads of any color. Popular bead colors include red, chartreuse, orange, white and green, which can be arranged in fetching combinations.
Install the blade on the clevis, which you can then string onto the line. (The scoop in the blade goes toward the hooks.) Add a few more beads and, if you prefer, a second blade and group of beads. Tie a small loop in the cut end to keep everything from sliding off the line.
Loop spinner rigs together loosely and store them in small plastic sandwich bags or wallet-sized picture envelopes, or wrap them around a cardboard or plastic tube.