This past weekend proved three things to me, one the health of Lake Erie’s fishing is outstanding, two the fish are scattered out of Brest Bay, and three, eight is not enough, might as well go nine rods out.
Got out Friday for a quick fish to try and locate some walleyes. Ended up catching four keepers and through back nine youngsters ranging from nine to 14.5 inches. It looks like there are plenty of little ones in the lake to be caught in the years to come. That day it was my neighbor and I and we ran a traditional six rod program with three Church Tackle Walleye Boards on each side.
Saturday a good friend of mine Kyle, who I used to work with in Dundee came out for the day with us on the lake. Kyle was my first ice fishing partner in the old Clam Ice Team series of Super Trap Attacks, great guy to fish with, and we always seemed to be on the same page when it came to fishing. Since we are allowed three rods a piece, it was time to employ the new Stern Planers from Church Tackle, the TX-007’s. These unique boards allow you to run lines behind the boat, actually targeting the fish you see on your graph, and Saturday….the graph was full!
With nine rods set in the program, we started chatting it up about old and new times, just catching up. With all the rods out, we started talking about how it reminded of us of trolling down south for crappie, what they refer to as “spider trolling”. We could not exactly steal a name already taken, and with six 8 ft rods, plus three 9 foot rods poking out all over the boat, it wasn’t long before we settled on calling the spread the “Porcupine” set up. Here is Kyle pulling in one of the 9 fish we caught on Saturday, this one on a 007.
The TX-007’s are a great tool, would say a great luxury to have as an option in the boat, but just after a few trips this year I realized that they are a must have tool in the walleye arsenal. Saturday they took three of the keepers that we caught. That means they caught just as many fish as the Walleye Boards we had set in the spread. Now the stern planers are unique in that they don’t really sink like the inline boards will with a big fish, they take up the line between planer and the rod. You will see them “chug” back if you pay really close attention, but will be honest its not easy to notice with a full spread of boards out on the sides too. To remedy the issue, you can either set the drag next to none and let the clicker on the Daiwa’s be your alarm or get a softer rod. I went with an 8’6″ downrigger rods, because the smaller fish just will not pull out the line enough for you to hear the clicker signal a fish on. The softer tip on the Daiwa Heartland rods that I chose allow you to see even the smallest white perch at the end of your line. Absolutely love my St. Croix Premier Glass board rods, but they were just too stiff for this application.
It wasn’t long after we set up in 27 foot of water that we had our first fish on, and coming back to the boat with the double action flag down. We hit two fish right away, and poked a few more here and there during the first drift. By the end of that trail the sun was up and the fish that we had been catching up high and gone to the bottom. That thought was confirmed by another friend who worked with us at Cabela’s who said he had switched to bottom bouncers and started to clean up the rest of his limit pretty quick. We sank the 2 oz Bass Pro Keels to the bottom, running them anywhere from 30 to forty feet back of the boards depending on the depth we were at. By the paint missing on the bottom of the keels we knew we were achieving our goal of targeting the bottom of the lake, that and we started to pull a zebra mussels in, as well!
Hot blade of the day was a white based #6 colorado from Big Eye Custom Lures, called Confetti. Up high, or dragging the bottom, the blade took five of the keepers and a number of throwbacks. Friday and Saturday, if any indication, had good signs that the fishery is in good shape with all the sub-legal fish that got thrown back in to grow some more. Not that I don’t like the occasional 6 to 8 lb fish to keep things interesting this time of the year, but on this side of the lake during this time of the year is really when you start putting those good eating fish into the freezer.
Best speed seemed to be 1.3 to 1.4 mph. We tried going a bit faster, and even up to 1.9 mph to keep the silver bass and white perch off the hooks, but the walleye just did not want a spinner rig going that fast it seemed. We dropped back down on third and final pass, weeded through some more little ones and put our last two fish in the box for the day. Not the best day, but a great day on the water with a couple of really good friends. Best fishing depth was 27 down to 24 fow, and then we would pick up and do it again. We even picked up a couple of bonus perch, one we kept, the other had no business hitting a #8 indiana blade!