Monday, March 13, 2017

Will 2017 be another spectacular walleye spawn?

Greg Tanko with a beautiful walleye

Bob Edwards with a dandy

Dennis Egge and Bob Edwards net another one
The walleye population on Red Lake, Ontario, has never been greater, and if we get another early ice-out it is going to increase yet again.
Early springs or at least consistently warm weather after ice-out seems to be the magic formula for walleye spawning success. That is exactly what has occurred in something like seven of the past 10 years and the result is what you see today -- so many walleye that you really never need leave the dock, at least once the water has warmed up.
There are walleyes in the weeds, off the rocks, off the mud shores, off reefs, below rapids and even, as I said, off the dock. You can catch them on jigs, backtrolling with spinner-bait rigs, front-trolling with lures like Shallow Shad Raps, casting spinners for pike and just about anything else. We caught at least two walleye last summer on Hula Poppers. That's not a misprint, Hula Poppers!
There are so many walleye now that the northern pike might be switching to a walleye-only diet. Why not? They are delicious and they're everywhere. Not a day goes by without someone reports having a pike grab a small walleye on the way to the boat. Some anglers report it happening to themselves every day. Readers of the blog will be aware of how great surface lures are working for pike now. Could these be imitating injured walleyes? Something is turning on the pike to surface baits and really the only thing that has changed is the explosion of walleye numbers.
I wrote last summer that two of our boats, fishing together, caught a total of 200 walleyes in one hour. They were in a cloud of smaller walleye and discovered they were so voracious you didn't need any bait whatsoever. They caught them on bare jigs.
One person commented that number is impossible. Well, it works out to 50 walleyes per person per hour or one walleye per person every minute and 12 seconds. How long does it take to open your bail and drop a jig to the bottom, say 12 feet below? Ten seconds, max. If a walleye grabs it right then and the fish isn't too big, how long to crank it back up. Twenty seconds? How long does it take to unhook a single-hooked jig from a walleye mouth? Five seconds. Jeez we're still only at 35 seconds. At this rate you might even have time to land a 40+inch pike that takes one of the walleyes sideways in its mouth and still catch 50 walleyes in one hour!
I would like to lay down this challenge. How many walleyes can you catch -- and prove you catch -- in one hour this summer?
I would suggest the following equipment: a hands-free Go-Pro camera to record the action and multiple spinning rods rigged with 1/8-ounce jigs fitted with 2.5-inch plastic twister tails. You can only fish with one rod at a time by law in Ontario but by having multiple rods at the ready you won't need to waste time tying on a new jig if cut off by a pike. We have quite a few guests who bring click-counters to register each fish but these are going to take time to operate and in the fishing frenzy it will be easy to forget to click it. Better to just turn on the camera and later replay it to count how many fish were landed in the hour.
For sheer numbers, which is what we're looking for, you will do the best finding shallow places stuffed with small walleye. The ones mentioned in the example above were 12-to-13 inches. Just little guys but those are the ones that you can crank back to the boat in a hurry. Finally, if the fish are hitting like nuts than why bother using live bait? In these spots they will grab virtually anything that moves, hence the plastic twister tails.
Good luck!
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! 200 in an hour. When I catch a lot of little ones I move. I like to catch 20 plus inch walleye. A good day for us is 50 plus over 20 inches. I start my day at 4:15-4:30am with a couple of meal breaks and I usually get back to the cabin close to dark.