Give the Fish What They Want

October 14, 2014 by  

by Bob Jensen

I went fishing last week.  The open water season is winding down, but there is still plenty of time to get out.  One word of advice:  Prepare for chilly weather.  One day last week when we hit the water, the air temp was thirty four degrees at eight o’clock in the morning, and the wind was blowing about fifteen miles per hour.  When we left the water at about three in the afternoon, it was forty five degrees and the wind was blowing harder.  And wouldn’t you know it, the walleyes were in the areas that were receiving the most wind.  You can’t avoid taking some spray in those windy conditions, and the cold temps make the spray even more unpleasant.  It’s conditions like this when you really appreciate the best foul-weather gear.  We were wearing Cabela’s Guidewear.  Guidewear is as good as it gets.  Guidewear costs more than those yellow ponchos, and it’s worth it.

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Give the fish what they want and you’ll be more successful more often.

Anyway, we were after walleyes.  My fishing partner Mike Frisch had been on the lake earlier in the week and had located some deeper humps that had been holding fish.  We started on those humps, but didn’t drop a bait until we saw fish on the sonar.  When we saw fish, we started fishing.

It’s often true that minnows are best in the spring and fall, and nightcrawlers and leeches are best in the summer.  In the fall, much of the time, a minnow presented on a jig can be deadly, but they weren’t working for us.  Neither did live bait rigs and minnows.  We could see the fish, and we knew they could see our baits, but they just weren’t eating them.  Out of a strong desire to get bit, Mike rigged up a crawler rig and dropped it to the walleyes.  Apparently, the walleyes hadn’t gotten the message that they prefer minnows to crawlers in mid-October.  After ignoring the minnows, they were willing to eat the crawlers.  We all switched to crawlers and we all started catching fish.  We let the fish show us what they wanted instead of trying to make them eat what we thought they wanted.

The crawler rig we used was unique.  We attached a Rock-Runner bottom-bouncer to braided line, and then used fluorocarbon as the snell.  We tied two hooks, about four inches apart, to the snell.  We experimented with hook color and found the best combination to be Northland’s Super-Glo Attractor hooks in orange on the front, red on the back.  Almost every fish we caught was hooked on the orange.  Sometimes, more often than we think, color makes a difference.

The line we used also made a big difference.  As mentioned, our main line was braid.  It was SX1 Sunline braid.  This line is unbelievably sensitive.  Between the wind and the walleye’s soft take on this day, we needed something super-sensitive to detect strikes.

The snell was Sunline Flourocarbon Leader line in eight pound test.  We used this line because it is as close to invisible as line gets, and when the walleyes are finicky, invisible line will put fish in the boat.

So many fishing trips are learning experiences, and this one was no different.  We shouldn’t assume we know what the walleyes want.  Let your experience give you an idea what to start with, but if that’s not working, don’t hesitate to try something else.  You’ll learn that fish don’t always, or even often, do what we expect them to do.

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