Tuning Up for Walleye – Part 4

Be Consistent for Good Walleye Action, Catching the Biggest Fish – Not All Luck, Learn from Winners

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Considering the recent results of many 2016 Lake Erie walleye fishing tournaments in the eastern basin this year, there are some anglers that have really improved their walleye fishing success and their bankroll too!

There are also a handful of anglers that have once again proven that they are masters of understanding the mystical aura of finding large, elusive walleye, no matter what the conditions. They are repeat top-ten walleye fish catchers in many tournaments almost every year.

As an example, some feel that the Southtowns Walleye Association Annual Walleye Tournament is a contest of sheer luck since it involves the mere single objective of catching one single fish that is the heaviest of all when compared to all the rest of the fish caught by everyone else in the tournament. You know, catching just one fish that is big only involves being in the right place at the right time, right? Question there might be, please share – what place is that?

Some folks reason that such contests would be more of a skill measurement if they involved a combined weight of three fish or five fish over the tournament period (9 days), all weighed in aggregate total. They say, that would be more a measure of skill, not luck. Others argue that such tournaments are too long – they should be multiple fish and only three or four days long, it should be a skill tournament, heaviest bag.

In one sense, all of the rationale could be argued one way or the other, but with a one-fish, biggest fish by weight winner, the good logic of the biggest single fish is that just about anyone can win the big money and that allows all who are entered an equal chance. Is it fair? Yes, as long as all the scales in multiple weigh station locations are calibrated and certified to the same standard. Then it would appear to many that this is very fair.

Back to anglers that consistently are in the top 10 or catch multiple heavy fish every year. How do they do that? There is one (complicated) answer to that. They know what they’re doing and they are ready to catch a monster walleye at all times with any of their tackle and on any rod or reel in their boat.

Be Tackle Ready

They are tackle ready. The have sharp hooks. They fish with new leaders. They tie strong knots. They know their rigging options. They have control of their boat. They know how to use their electronics. They have friends that share. All of these things are key elements of their road to repeated success.

Learn About Weather Effects

There are many other things they know too. They know weather and lake conditions that include wind shifts and the sub-surface currents that form, currents that can drive forage to new locations.

They know that sunny days after a cold front are the worst days to fish. The know that the days following a severe wind blow and thunderstorm are the next worse days to fish – and sometimes, the “bad day” can last two or three days.

They know that the best conditions to catch fish are on Lake Erie water that is medium clear to highly clear is with overcast skies and a slightly choppy surface. The good clarity level allows the walleye to see the forage more easily and the surface disruption keeps them feeding longer, sometimes all day, or it seems from my experience.

Understand Fish Movement and Change

They know bottom types such as mud flats, sand, gravel, rock and weed. They know where newborn forage base populations like to feed as they grow and they check these areas consistently.

They know that after a cold front, the walleye usually head for the bottom and stay there. Close mouthed too, but if you’re going to catch them, it will be dragging a line near the bottom with copper or 10-color or three way rigging with contact.

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If you are like most anglers, you think you’re doing all the right things, yet your friend Billy or Joey or Herbie is telling you everything he says he knows, but he is catching lots of fish and you’re not. Do you really trust your friend? Most of us know and do trust our friends, so the question you must answer is why are they catching more than I am?

Does Scent Matter? Yes

The questions are always there, trust me on that one, but the answers and solutions are not really that far behind. Scent is a big deal. Fill your oil and gas reservoirs before you fish? Not good, unless you really get that smell off.

One reason why scent attractants seem to work is that the cover such mistakes, not so much that they attract fish, though there is some truth to the attraction factor too.

You use 20-pound test mono leaders because you think that 20-pound Fluorocarbon doesn’t really make a difference and it costs a lot. With our clear water, these things can often matter. Science has helped us.

Does Boat Noise Matter? Yes

Maybe you are trolling with a 4-stroke and your buddy is trolling with a 2-stroke. They both make lots of underwater noise when the fish are shallow, but the 2-stroke makes less noise. A bow-mounted electric is the quietest and stealthiest, and perhaps, the most effective too, when it comes to catching numbers of fish, but most traditional Lake Erie walleye anglers are trollers with gas motors of one sort or another.

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You can see walleyes all over the place and yet, you can’t hook any. If there is a fresh mayfly hatch going on, that’s why. Walleye are opportunists and they feed on whatever is in abundance. You have to put available food resources in your planning when you prepare to fish for the win.

Know the Food Options

Eastern basin Lake Erie forage includes emerald shiners, smelt, shad, gobies and yellow perch. Lure color and actions that imitate these are what you’ll need. Size variations too.

Interestingly, most of the winningest anglers will all share that they have one hot lure or one hot color. Studies show that walleye see orange, yellow and green the best in deep waters, this is not a physics function, it is a walleye sensitivity function.

Sometimes a spinner/worm rig catches all the fish and you have three of them, but only one of those three are doing the job. Why? It could be flicker, flutter, and balance, bend in the blade – hard to tell, but look for these differences.

Lastly, sooner or later, you will have one of these “hot lures” or your friend will shed his curtain and tell you what he is doing exactly. Until that happens, just pay attention to some of the ideas mentioned earlier. Discover your own trail to big fish.

Take Notes, Study Them

Take notes. It helps when you look back on them. Talk to anglers at the dock. Did they go east, west, how deep, how fast did they troll, what kind of rig did they like using? Ask and learn. Add what they share to your own arsenal of knowledge and be strong to share what you know too.

Some anglers have learned the rules of their fishing own fishing road. They know where the turns are. They modify as they need to. They adjust to win and they remember what they did for next time and next year.

Learn to Love Fishing and Sharing

Learning, sharing, winning some cash too. That’s what makes fishing one-fish contests the fun it is. If it’s a skill or luck tournament for you, no matter. Are you enjoying your time on the water and at the dock, and at the weigh station and the fish cleaning station? Let’s face it, most anglers are not pro anglers, but a simple cash purse can make it seem so.

For most of us, fishing is about fun, especially when your name appears in the top 200. Get a notebook, take some notes!

Good luck on the water!