You’re going to ask me why am I talking about walleye on Lake Erie when the perch season is in full swing, and my snarky answer is going to be, “If you snooze, you lose.”. In this case it could be the wall hanger of a lifetime! At no other time will you have a better opportunity to bring back perhaps the biggest fish you will ever catch on Erie, specially in Michigan waters. Think about it, just last year during the late fall, early winter crankbait season, a 14+ pound walleye was caught out of Sterling State Park. If you drop a few lead “bombs” down the water column, you can increase the amounts of bites, I practically guarantee it. I would say 100%, done deal…but we are dealing with fish here.
Time to go through my bag of weights and make sure everything is in order before hitting the water. Most of the time I have little use for these smaller tackle type storage bags anymore. The inventory has exceed their use, that or I just have too much “stuff”, but for the remaining bit of time, they are great for organizing some of the tools of the trade. In this case, my 15 year old Plano bag is used for storing all my trolling weights. They range from 1/4 of an ounce all the way up to 6 ounces.
Because of the wide range of weights that could be deployed, my board of choice is Church Tackle‘s original Walleye Board. It is because of the sliding external keel that makes this board my choice for the late fall. No matter which weight I decide to snap on, with a simple twist of two screws, I can adjust the board to ride just right in any wave condition. Personally I like the front end of the board to be slightly out of the water, it makes the board ride better and with or without the Double Action Flag System, easier to detect any change in drag that could either be a lazy eye or a small bunch of weeds at the other end.
When going out in front of Sterling, you can be in Michigan, or you could be in Ohio where the rules are slightly different. Michigan allows three rods, OH only two. When we do crossover the line, the Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech allows me to safely store my “extra” Church board. What do I mean by safely? It means no more accidently sitting on the board (which is not comfortable) or even stepping on it by mistake. The boards lock so well into place, I can run at high speed from one waypoint to another without worry.
Snap weights are great during the fall for several applications. I can run them with my Deep or Shallow Husky Jerks from Rapala. I am not a huge fan of letting out a mile’s worth of line to get to the desired depth where the fish are, just allows for more time for the fish to come off the hooks.
One of my favorite sizes to run is the 2 ounce, and I can never have enough of them. I even went up into the shop and poured some more using my mold from Do-It. The only problem, was they didn’t have the built in snap to attach to the clip. No problem, I just deconstructed a #8 duolock snap, and then snapped everything back into place. I can now attach the weights to the traditional clip, or when running through heavy weeds, the Lock-Jaw Clip from Church Tackle. Nothing knocks these clips off the line.
Go big or go home kind of kit, this is my heavy duty snap weight kit. I made this up for deep water fishing out on the lake. All things 30+ foot of water, it includes 4 and 6 ounce pencil weights and some more Lock Jaw Clips. I had a great website source, a cat fishing type site in fact, but, unfortunately for some reason they no longer sell the sinkers, any kind of sinkers in fact. You can probably kill some time on Google and find a new source, but I have my kit already made up…back to the whole, you snooze you lose thing.
So what types of cranks can you use with snap weights, and my serious answer is any kind you have in the box(es). That said, I run them most often with jerkbaits like Rapala’s Shallow Husky Jerk. Other types of baits that work are deep diving baits that seem like they dive deep on an inland lake, but only get to the middle of the water column on the big water. Perfect example is Rapala’s deep diving #9 Shad Rap. It has a slow wobble that entices walleye to bite in cold water, but doesn’t dive very deep with 100 foot of line out of the Daiwa Sealines. The baits are also made of solid balsa wood, which means there isn’t any internal rattle system. In order to make the best use of this unique bait’s attributes, you need to dial in where the fish are in the water. Dropping down 3 or 4 ounces of lead eliminates most of the guess work!
My last tip, and I must be in some type of coffee induced euphoria to share this one about another crankbait, but here goes. If you are from Monroe County, here on the western shores of Lake Erie, you are most likely fully aware of the great fishing we have from shore at night, and you know that jointed cranks are the most effective ones to use. Unlike the Deep Shad Rap, this bait doesn’t get much attention, but it should, its a walleye killer on Erie, specially for suspended fish. Like the Rap, it doesn’t dive extremely deep for the big water, but it does have the rattles built in. It is the Deep Jointed Husky Jerk, quite the mouthful.
The first time I put this lure in the water, the only thing sticking out of the walleye’s mouth was the bill of this Glass Purple Perch DJHJ-12. The Firetiger in the first picture, took one of our walleye during a tourney on the Saginaw River. These are an incredible bait at various speeds and against a current too. With the addition of a snapweight on the line, they a become deadly tool in your arsenal!