photo of mourning doves
Pro: Ted Takasaki Highlight Reel: 1998 Professional Walleye Trail champion Pro: Perry Good Highlight Reel: Current No. 1 ranked PWT pro and four-time champ Pro: Mike Gofron Highlight Reel: Two-time PWT Angler of the Year and No. 2 ranked pro
1 WHAT’S THE MOST VERSATILE RIG? It’s hard to beat a spinner and night-crawler. It provides flash and the scent of live bait. You can troll it, drift it, or work it slowly around structure. A Lindy Rig with a No. 2 red hook and a red-tailed chub minnow. If you see fish, hook the tail and let it swim.If you’re searching, hook the lip and direct it. I like finesse jigging: a fathead minnow on a 1/16-ounce fireball jig tied to 4-pound-test line. It gives the minnow action and makes it easier to tell how they’re biting.
2 HOW DO YOU SIZE UP NEW WATER FAST? For water under 50 degrees, look for hard-bottom spawning areas adjacent to creeks; above 50, deeper spots next to those same spawning areas. Ask if the lake is stocked. If it is, you’ll probably find walleyes in the weeds. Stocked fry are raised in weedy beds, and that’s the first place they go. Study maps and water temperature, for sure, but it also helps to note the depth of the first few fish you catch. You’ll likely find many more at that depth.
3 WHAT’S YOUR DREAM DAY FOR WALLEYES? They’re most aggressive in low light, so early and late are best. Add clouds and a 10-mph wind to rough the surface and it’s perfect. I like stable weather, no cold fronts. On summer days when it’s so hazy you can’t see the other side of the lake, you know the fish are going to bite. When you wake, the temperature is rising. A cloud here and there, maybe a spit of rain throughout the day, and a light wind—we call it a walleye chop.
4 WHAT TACTIC SHOULD EVERY WALLEYE ANGLER MASTER? Jigging and rigging. Every good walleye angler needs to perfect it. It’s like pitching and flipping for bass fishermen—it’s our bread and butter. Know what depth the feeding fish are at. Know that, and often any presentation will work. Reading electronics. Set it up right and spend time learning to use it. People think you’re going to turn it on and see fish, but you’ve got to fiddle with it.
5 WHAT’S THE TYPICAL ANGLER’S BIGGEST MISTAKE? Drifting too fast. I catch more walleyes going under 1½ mph than over. The best electronics won’t help if you race past fish. Slow down with a drift sock. Not fishing shallow. Anglers depend on electronics, but shallow fish don’t show up on screen.I won a tournament fishing 2 feet of water—blew the field away. A lot of weekend fishermen spend all their time tying rigs or searching for tools. Do your prep work at home, not in the boat.