Walleye are still Banging the Boards Back

July 21st, 2014

While the perch anglers are starting to congregate between Stoney Pointe and the River Raisin channel buoys, there are still lots of walleye in Michigan waters.  Saturday marked the second weeks where it took three passes to get our two-man limit of walleye.  Would have been just two passes, but for the first time all season we actually lost more than one fish at the boat, three actually.  Like last weekend, the neighbor and I cleaned up using #6 blades from Big Eye Custom Lures, with a mix of purples, pinks and light greens on copper.

Big Eye Angelfish

Big Eye Angelfish


Big Eye Paula's Pride

Big Eye Paula’s Pride


Big Eye Mud Puppy

Big Eye Mud Puppy


We had a bit of a late start, and didn’t start fishing until about 11 am, at the same spot where we cleaned up on the three passes the weekend before.  Nothing at 27 fow, not even a mark on the screen, 14 waypoints produced nothing but a small white perch.  We stayed on the original track, and passed through 26 and 25 fow without a single pullback on the Church Tackle Walleye Boards.  The Walleye Boards are my favorite this time of the year, due to the combination of the board’s sliding keel weight and my employing the heavier 2 and 3 oz Bass Pro and Rednek weights when fishing deeper water.  Right or wrong, I don’t like a lot of line behind my boards, and the design of these keels allow the weight to slash through the water at a deeper dive curve, making it easier to determine the depth to run the 7′ft harnesses I tie up with the Big Eye Blades.

Church Tackle Walleye Boards

Church Tackle Walleye Boards


The weather was threatening all morning and into early afternoon with the clouds looking pretty ominous. We had two to three-foot rollers pushing the old Crestliner along.  Once we hit 24 fow, the flags starting to pull back on my side of the boat, and the port side start get in on the action too.  The action slowed down in 22 fow and we picked up the gear, having caught 5 fish, while losing one on the first drift.  Following the first track, we hooked eight walleye and lost two more at the boat.  We should have been done, but that is why they don’t call it catching.  With six more in the cooler, we only had to get one more fish to have our 12 for the day.

On the third and final pass, the action was of the boom, boom out go the lights type.  If you get that reference, you know a little old school Pat Traverse is always a good thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4XbV3gCm2Y

We knocked off the 12th and final fish at the first waypoint, and while enjoying a cold beverage we had three more fish hammer the boards.  Threw those back in the lake for another day, picked up the gear, wrapped up the St. Croix and headed back in to Sterling.  Had some company so threw some ice on the eyes and had a great dinner, then got up on Sunday and cleaned the catch.


And of course the best part of cleaning the fish was harvesting the crown jewel of the walleye, the cheeks!


Copyright, 2014




Big Walleye Spinner Blades require a big CLEVIS

July 18th, 2014

So far this year I am shooting a solid 50% on new things to try for putting more walleye in the boat.  Although my idea for using a keel weight to get my cranks down deeper with less line behind the planer boards wasn’t a big hit, I haven’t given up on the idea, it still might fly come November/December with the colder temps.  What did work out great was the answer to one of my biggest problem the last few years.


I love big….no, nothing to do with that annoying song….Big BLADES, AND I CANNOT LIE.   Sorry little humor on a dry Friday morning, but it is true, I love big spinner blades when it comes to dragging meat (my term for crawlers) for walleye on Lake Erie. Bigger the better, most times the harnesses are rigged with nothing smaller than a #6 Colorado, and even as big as these #8 Indiana’s.  The problem with my #8′s is that I was losing them at far too great of a rate for costing almost 2 bucks a piece.

I use 20 lb test for the rigs I make up myself, so you might ask how was I losing them?  Well before I completely spill the beans, let me tell you about the issues I was having and then work into the solution.  My line above the beads was fraying, becoming nicked and if I didn’t constantly check the line each time the blade/harness came back to the boat, I would lose the hooks, beads and blade to the bottom of the lake.

I think you might be able to tell already what my problem was, my #2 clevis was too small!  With, for a lack of a better term to apply to the situation, too much torque caused by the bigger blade spinning, it was constantly working against the line.  A smaller blade will cause the clevis to spin evenly around the so-called center axis, but a larger blade, say a #7 or larger, would throw it off kilter.



With bigger blades I thought to myself that the only solution might be a bigger clevis, and this season it has worked out perfectly.  I ordered some #3 folded clevises from Hagens parts catalog, well 500 of them, but I am sure they will all get used at some point.  At the beginning of the trolling season, I was still constantly checking the line for signs of wear and tear,  and saw none out of the ordinary.  You will still get some, but the same amount as you would get from using a #5 or #6 Colorado for two or three hours straight with a #2 clevis.  Over the last couple of years if they lasted an hour before I had to switch rigs I was pretty lucky.

After all this, to get to the point, if you are using any blade larger than a #6 Colorado, I suggest going to the #3 folded clevis to avoid having your line destroyed by overloading a smaller clevis.    Some might ask why I don’t use a quick change clevis and my answer is that they are not perfect either.  While you don’t lose the blades because of line wear, you will lose a few because the snap design just isn’t perfect and they come off here and there during the course of a day’s action.

Am I saying this is the only solution, no I am not.  Some anglers out there might already have come up with another idea.  It happens in fishing, anglers faced with similar issues come up with various solutions.  Will say this, I have not heard of anyone else coming up with this same solution.  Which doesn’t mean they haven’t.  But, not sure how many out there have thought of taking a clevis normally used with inline muskie spinners, and applying their use to walleye fishing.

Here are some of the blades I would use a #3 folded clevis with:

#7 Colorado blade

#8 Indiana blade

#6 Whiptail blade

#5 or larger Willow blade


Copyright, 2014

The New BigMouth CatchCounter: counting perch, bluegills, crappie and more

July 14th, 2014



Like many walleye anglers around the Great Lakes when late July and August roll around my attention turns towards those tasty yellow bellied treats known as Perch!  Even fisherman who do not put their boats in for chasing walleye come out in droves when it comes to the annual perch season.  Often the bite can be hot and heavy with slinging multiple perch into the cooler, one after another.


With that in mind, while combining either Ohio’s limit of 30 perch or Michigan’s larger amount of 50 per angler, keeping an accurate count can be difficult to say the least.  It is time-consuming to stop fishing and take several minutes to check multiple times to be sure of a precise number in the cooler.  I even thought of using a clicker like the one above, this was even before they started showing up in fishing catalogs and local bait shops for sale.  The problem with the clickers is that before long somebody in the boat will eventually ask, “Did you count that last one?”.  Which will lead you to ask, “Who’s last one?”.  And the vicious cycle of putting the rod down and start counting the individual perch all over again.


Original Catch Counter

Original CatchCounter




Two years ago I found the solution to my perch counting problem, The CatchCounter.  Made locally in Port Clinton, Ohio, the counter kept track of the number of perch going into my cooler, while keeping them on ice as well!  As I wrote in a previous article, I learned of The Catch Counter from a friend of mine who sent a link for a Craigslist posting, I contacted the owner, Tony Sebastiano.  Tony was great, explained everything about the counters to me and went with getting just the counter myself, had an old cooler, cut my hole in the lid and was ready rock n roll on Lake Erie.  The counter was great, never had an issue with it and has performed flawlessly for the last couple of seasons.

BigMouth Catch Counter

BigMouth CatchCounter


I will say this about Tony, you can tell that he has a passion for his product because he works all the time to improve it for the panfishing minded consumer.  Responding to feedback he has introduced the new BigMouth CatchCounter.  Crappie anglers in the South wanted the opening to be bigger for their crappie that grow rapidly in their warm southern climates.  Tony made it bigger, stronger, more durable, with even a more accurate counter.



There are three options when buying the BigMouth CatchCounter, well actually four and will get into that also.  First you can order just the counter itself, and then mount it to any flat surface storage area.  The second option is that you can buy the counter mounted on a 5 gallon Bass Pro Bucket.  I like this option for ice fishing because it is easy to store.  The third option is to have it come mounted on a 48 quart cooler, which is really nice for fishing the big lakes and handles the larger limits with ease.


The fourth option is actually the best deal of all, if you can get five of your friends to order at the same time, you actually can get just the BigMouth CatchCounter heads for  five dollars cheaper per unit.  Don’t have five panfishing friends, that issue can be solved, because I bet two or three of the people you do know, know a few other anglers who would want one also.  Installing the heads are fairly easy to do yourself, and most folks have an old cooler or bucket lying around.

If you ice fish like I do, it is easy to first install the counter on a cooler, and then because it is so easy to take the head off, you can then use it on a bucket for ice fishing.  If your experiences on the ice are anything like mine, once you start throwing bluegill, crappe and perch on the ice, you tend to quickly attract a crowd near  you.  By keeping them in a bucket, it is a little easier to hide the fact that you are on a hot bite.  Instead of laying them on the ice to get a count, which can draw attention, the CatchCounter does it for you.

Once I hang up the walleye gear for the summer, will be posting lots of pics of the BigMouth CatchCounter from the boat, and later on when the ice gets solid, from the hardwater too!

If you want to see one of the units for yourself, you can check them out at these locations:

-Matthew’s Bait&Tackle, Monroe Miahigan

-Fin/Feather/Fur-4 Ohio Locations. Canton,Ashland,Middleburg Heights and Youngstown.

-Ravenna Marine-Ravenna,Ohio
- FISHERMANS WHARF – Port Clinton, Ohio
- A&J BAIT – West Lakeshore Dr., Port Clinton, Ohio
- LAKE SHORE BAIT & TACKLE – Ashtabula, Ohio
- BAD BOY BAIT & TACKLE – Vermilion, Ohio 


Copyright, 2014


3 Passes=12 Lake Erie Walleye

July 12th, 2014

IMG_3825Had a really nice morning yesterday on the Michigan side of Lake Erie, we made three passes on a Northeast track and collected our 12 walleye, going 12 for 13.   We had several doubles with two eyes on at the same time, which made netting the fish seem like a royal mess with clearing the fish out and then getting back in the water.  Started out near the state line in 27 fow and packed up the gear in 26 fow and went back to our starting waypoints.  After three passes, we backed up the rods and came home with a solid mess of 12 good-sized eaters.  Nothing huge, but then again when fishing the Michigan side this time of the year, wallhangers are not the goal, it’s all about tasty fillets for dinner.


"Old School" Mud Puppy and Copper Blossom from Big Eye Custom Lures

“Old School” Mud Puppy and Copper Blossom from Big Eye Custom Lures


Although, we took a few fish on other blades, most of the fish came on two blades from Big Eye Custom Lures, the one on the left is what I am calling the “Old School” version of Mud Puppy, with the new version below.

Big Eye Mud Puppy

Big Eye Mud Puppy


Kind of like the new version too, it adds a different look to the presentation.  The other blade was Blossom on copper, which I picked up new for this year, and although I had tried it before yesterday, it was putting a lot of fish in the cooler yesterday.



Church Tackle TX-22's

Church Tackle TX-22′s


We had some good-sized 2 to 3 foot waves heading out, but it actually calmed down to nice littler rollers as the day progressed.  Using 2 oz Bass Pro inline weights, the key to the program was 24 to 30 ft of line behind the Church boards, while running 1.3 to 1.4 mph.  With the surge of the waves every once in a while we would top out at 1.6 mph, but that can’t be helped, and it certainly didn’t seem to bother the walleye we brought in off the lines.

The weeds, well how to say this….I have seen them worse, but they were still a pain in the arse.  Saw some big mats of small islands, some looked like logs going through.  The worst of it was the jelly type substance that would go down the lines and clog up the ball bearing swivels on the BPS weights.  It took some meticulous cleaning and waiting for the harnesses to spin free of the resulting line twist, but we kept on fishing.

The locator screen was full of fish and bait balls all day, well until that certain 26 fow mark where it would clear up and we would pack up and hit again.  As the day progressed the wind shifted out of the Northeast and came in more out of a true Easterly pattern.  Made it harder to stay on track, but we just kept dissecting the original marks over and over again, twice that is, until we filled the cooler.

Copyright, 2014



Matching Harnesses Blades to the Shiner Bite

July 7th, 2014



Now that the bug hatch has just about wrapped up, though its true  you might see a few more mayflies rise to the lake’s surface,  the Lake Erie walleye bite is shifting towards an shiner bite.  And if you like dragging meat like I do, its time to switch up your spinner blades to ….cannot believe I am saying this again….match the hatch.  These dog days of July are the times when millions of little shiners are being hatched and you will see clouds of them near the surface, even in 30 fow.


Although I think it is an underestimated color pattern in my opinion, its time to go blue, and as a Michigan State fan, during walleye fishing is the ONLY time you will ever hear me say that! But I will admit, I have loved blues since the 1980′s and 90′s when I would love and run chrome and blue Storm Hot n Tot’s in a myriad of patterns.  Some chrome and green patterns too.

Often I mix and match my beads to reflect those old days; silver beads with metallic blue with just a hint of pink is a fave combination with a plain silver back,  blue blade.  With the Emerald Shiner pattern from Big Eye Custom Lures.com, I get a little white flash for a bait’s belly, but have my greens and blues with just a hint of chartreuse and red for some bleeding gill action simulating a wounded baitfish in the water.


Mix in some sharp turns of the boat to slow down and speed up the action on the blade, and you have a hard combination of beads and blade to beat.

BFI-Colorado-blade-RB-RainbowRainbow Trout from Northland Tackle is another favorite of mine when  it comes to these warm days during July.  That chrome holographic finish on the belly, just a hint of pink, and then combine that green and blue ridge along the edge and it is a deadly combination.

Copyright, 2014



Gearing up for the 2014 Perch Season on Lake Erie

July 3rd, 2014

This is going to be one of many perch articles for this year’s season. To start with, or to kick-off the season, I am going to create a checklist of items that can help you get ready for a successful season.

1)  Check your rods;  remember I like and use ultra lights and light action rods from St. Croix, they really are the best rods on earth in my opinion.  A good quality rod will telegraph every bite, increasing  your hook-up percentages.  Look for nicks in the rod which might weaken the blank.

2) Grease up your reels; I prefer spinning reels, closed face Zebco style reels are for children, and even then I started my 6 yr old niece out with a spinning reel and she did a great job catching a 4.5 lb smallmouth bass her first time out.  Take the handles apart and shoot some grease up in there to improve performance.

3)  Check the line on your reels;  Mono is out, braid is in!  You will feel times as many bites when you use a good braid on your reel. Suffix Performance Braid is a good quality braid, and every bite is telegraphed back to my St. Croix. I prefer the Lo-Vis Green, but they have a neon orange and a high-vis yellow too, if you are a line watcher, good choice to go with.

4) Perch Rigs and Spreaders;  I am a rig guy through and through, when stationary.  I make up dozens of perch rigs every year for myself, friends and clients.  Drifting is another story, perch live on the bottom of the lake and I want my hooks in the strike zone when on the move, that is when I find employing a spreader is the best method to hook more yellow bellies.

5) Weights;  It is important to have a variety of sized weights to choose from.  For an example, inside Lake Erie’s Brest Bay and fishing shallower water, I find that that 1/2 and 3/4 oz bell type sinkers work the best.  Once out of the bay though, it works better with 1, 1.25 and 1.5 oz sinkers to hold the baits down on the bottom when employing the rigs.  When on the move, a 2 oz sinker might even be your best option. Like using a bottom bouncer with walleye, you want to keep a 45′ angle from your rod tip to where your line enters the water to get the best results.


I will have some more articles coming soon; working with flashers, GPS, counting, and cleaning your perch. Stay tuned


Copyright, 2014


Walleye Trolling Weights

June 26th, 2014

One of the guys asked me this morning about where the fish are and what program am I running this time of the year as the fish go deeper with the rising water temps.  I gave a brief idea where I was going to be starting next time out, and that got me thinking…it is all about getting down to where the fish are.  Which lead me to the trolling weights that I use.


This time of the year I like running 2 oz or more, and because I have the most of this particular brand and type, going to start off discussing the Bass Pro Fish Weights.  For years I have liked these the best, by going with the 2 oz I eliminate a lot of guess-work when it comes to letting out how much line to get the fish.  At 1.3 mph and I see fish at 20 fow, I let out 20 to 25 feet of line from my Daiwa’s.  That way I am right above them, in the middle of the strike zone and just below so I can target a few of the bigger fish hanging on the bottom.


Church Tackle's Walleye Board

Church Tackle’s Walleye Board


When I run the heavier weights, I like my Walleye Boards, from Church Tackle.  This board is really the most versatile planer board on the market.  With its sliding lead keel, you can get this board to run perfectly no matter what you are pulling behind it.  I know some guys who actually will run 4 oz bottom bouncers and the board runs perfectly.

Rednek Outfitters

Rednek Outfitters


These are some 2 and 3 oz Rednek Outfitter keel weights that I had custom painted in a perch pattern.  Their 2 oz seem heavier to me than the Bass Pro weights, and that is ok in my book.  Anything I put down, my Walleye Boards can handle. Honestly, if I can get rid of putting more line behind my boards, the better and less chance of a fish coming off the hooks.  Now, the Rednek weights do come with a belly hook, and honestly with the limited time I have run them, I have yet to catch a walleye off that hook.  Did get some white perch, but not exactly what I was hoping for.




Ok, just got a bright idea, hence the much larger than I wanted light bulb picture…yikes.  Instead of the belly hook on the Rednek’s, thinking a couple of split rings, a swivel and either a #3 or 4 Indiana blade!  Add a little flash to the weight, and then get them to whack the spinner rig!  Who knows, but that is how my brain works sometimes, it is either out of the box thinking or just another crazy idea to get filed away under “Tried and Classic Fail”.  Think this one might work though, on reconsideration though, a #4 indy blade might be too big, would have to look at #2′s and 3′s side by side to determine which would be better.


Anyhoo, as my Uncle Chuck would say….that’s the type of program I run this time of the year when the walleye are down near the bottom in deeper water. Hit ‘em hard, and heavier the better!

Copyright, 2014


Walleye Harness Blade Basics: what do you need in your arsenal to get the job done

June 20th, 2014


Some of the most popular “vintage” posts are about walleye blades; shapes, sizes and colors.  All these things are important when buying blades and building your own walleye catching rigs.  For this article let us take an approach for the first timer, that guy or gal who wants to build their own walleye harnesses for the first time, and create a shopping list to help them get started.

Big Eye Custom Lures.com

Big Eye Custom Lures.com


Selection is the key when building up your own arsenal of walleye catching blades.  You need to cover your bases, but for the sake of argument let us stay with the most popular and basic sized blades to get started.  The most popular size right now on any big body of water is a #6 Colorado blade,  a #5 will work, but so will a #8 blade, and you can break down into a #4 later as well, but the #6 is the best all around fish catching size right now.

Setting the size aside for now, now we get to the blades themselves; copper, gold and silver …oh my!  Well it is getting harder to find gold blades, although they are still out there is some good quantities, silver and copper are readily available.  Copper is the most popular by far, but some colors “pop” better on a silver blade.

To truly cover your bases, you need a color plan of attack when purchasing your first blades when getting started.  With so many patterns to choose from these days, you want to make it as simple as possible.  This is the way I would break it down if I was starting over tomorrow.

1)  Purples

2) Pinks

3) Chartreuses

4) Oranges

5) Blues

6) White base

7) Anti-freeze

8) Buggy

Big Eye Blue Perch

Big Eye Blue Perch


Now, let’s discuss why I broke down my choices, in a very random manner that is….

Notice how the blue really pops or shines coming off this silver blade from Big Eye Custom Lures .  Love this type of pattern when there are tons of shiners in the water, mixes right in with the bait and catches the attention of the walleye in the area. Purples and pinks can be metallic or over a base paint to give them a different look.  When the water becomes clear, think the metallic look is best, same with the anti-freeze type blades.  No matter what is going on under the waves, it seems like an orange or chartreuse colored blade will always catch fish.  A blade with a white base falls into that category as well. Panties, eriedescent, emerald shiner, are all patterns that produce throughout the year, with some periods of producing the hottest bite of the year it seems.

Of all the colors I mentioned though, buggy might need the most explaining.  Buggy is a very specialized bite that occurs during a two to four-week bite when the mayflies hatch off the bottom of the lake.  Although I detest terms that have been said over and over again, in this case it is true, it is good to “match the hatch”.  The first thing I look for in a buggy blade is it has to be copper 90% of the time.  It is a high percentage, so for starting out, get your copper on!  A metallic purple works on copper really well during this time.   Fishlander used make a confusion blade that rocked the mayfly bite, but unfortunately they are out of business now, going on some six years already if not longer.


Never fear though, if you want a Confusion blade, I have a guy.  If you order a dozen or more of the pattern, you can have a guy too.  Don from Big Eye Custom Lures will paint them up for you, you can save the pic and email it to him from the email available on the website.  He also makes a couple of patterns now that I consider really “buggy;  Copper Oriole and Halloween.



Why spend so much time on these buggy patterns, because right now in the walleye world, the mayfly hatch is in full swing and the bite is on.  Do not ignore the other suggestions on getting started, every blade has a time and place. Before the hatch started, pinks and oranges were rocking Erie and putting a lot of walleye in the boat for us. At the start of the year it was blues and purples, the bite comes in cycles just like the weather, and it is a good thing to be, like the Boy Scouts say……prepared!

Copyright, 2014


Cover Picture Idea for your Facebook Page

June 19th, 2014

Are you an avid walleye fisherman, guessing yes you are since most of my posts and articles are related to walleye fishing, if so, then  you will appreciate this pic and makes for a nice cover picture for your Facebook page.  Click on the picture to make it bigger, then save for making it your cover pic:





Copyright, 2014

Marine Outboard Company Speaks out AGAINST Ethanol

June 19th, 2014

I warned readers a year or two ago about the danger to their engines created by ethanol blended gas at the pumps.  Recently Mercury, the legendary producer of marine outboard engines, has stated the same.  The warnings have been sounded on what E15 ethanol gas can do to your motors.


If you want to save your engine by not running ethanol blended gas, you can find a retailer near you that sells non-ethanol gas….hopefully at a station near you.


For the readers not from Michigan, perhaps our neighboring states that off great fishing like Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, then follow this link to your state’s initials in the brown box near the bottom of the page.


Copyright, 2014