Saturday, January 16, 2016

When to anchor for walleye fishing

Dan Ryan with a nice walleye caught last summer

Denny Koopman in 2015
If you are new to walleye fishing on Red Lake, don't read this. (see Curse).
I have seen more anglers thwarted in their pursuit of walleye by anchoring than perhaps any other mistake in technique. The problem is it restricts you to one place and on a big lake, like Red Lake which is about 30 miles in length and joins with the Gullrock waterway that is at least another 15 miles long, the "spot" is a movable feast. It shifts and flips shorelines with the wind and the temperature, baitfish preferences and insect emergence.
With all that being said, there actually is a time and place for anchoring and it is when you are dead certain where "the spot" is.
Let's say you are backtrolling a spinner and worm rig and you continually hit walleyes in exactly the same location in the trolling pattern, like at the tip of a point or off a pile of boulders in a weedbed. Probably on the second occasion you and your partner hooked up to the walleyes you had the place pegged.
If you are like most people, you continue to work the spot by trolling back and forth, even though 90 per cent of the route was unproductive.
So here is an occasion where you could anchor and flip a small jig right into the productive spot. Even still, there are a few caveats. 1. Don't anchor right in "the spot." The anchor may spook the fish. Anchor a cast-length away. 2. Don't anchor if it is too windy and the anchor might drag, again because it could scare the fish. 3. Don't anchor if you just aren't proficient fishing with a jig. I mean, you were catching fish just fine by trolling even if it was more slowly than might be possible by zeroing-in on the fish by anchoring.
Another place to anchor is when fishing downstream of rapids, again, because you know where the fish will probably be.
A definite time  to anchor on Red Lake is in the fall once the walleye have gone to deep water. The fish will school up in precise locations and to everybody's delight, actually show up as schools on fish finders. (The rest of the year we fish so shallow the fish almost never show on the screen, even while you are catching them.)
It is tricky, however, anchoring in this relatively deep water, particularly if it is windy since these places are either on the shorelines of big bays or in narrows within view of the big bays. My advice is to anchor only when the conditions allow it, like morning and evenings and just calm days.
Finally, a good time to anchor for walleye is when using slip bobbers, tiny jigs and leeches and fishing in the weeds. (See Walleye in the Weeds) Frankly, most people haven't a clue how to do this which is a pity because the edges of weedbeds are where some of the largest walleye lay. We've noticed that gargantuan walleye behave more like northern pike. They are often loners and are looking for bigger prey than the minnows the rest of the walleye feed upon.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


One of the greatest lessons I've learned while fishing was by an 18 year old kid who guided for Tinker. I watched the young man methodically work the motor in reverse and neutral, keeping tight on the spot. Over the years I have focused on mastering precision boat control and have benefited greatly! I rarely if ever use an anchor now- just focus on the graph depth and surrounding land marks while working with the wind or current. I guess the only downfall is listening to the hum of a 9.9 for 8 hrs instead of nature.