……and mix it up in the middle.
That is the third installment of my walleye tips for this year and it is all about hitting the walleye where they live when fishing with crawler harnesses, in the water column, so to speak. There are days on the water where you can technique specifically target walleye were they are. Sometimes “max flash” up high will out perform the bottom “thump”, but only because of the location of the fish in the water column. When the are suspended, anything goes and you just need to fine tune the presentation on the fly.
Some methods call for running your spinner rigs up and down the water column on both sides of the boat, even depths on one side, odd depths on other side. My favorite method uses the blade presentation to target fish high in the water on one side, while going low on the opposite side. The more lines in the water, the better the coverage you have. Don’t worry if you are the solitary angler type, you can still accomplish this, but it will take a little more work.
When fishing high in the water column, let’s say in 18 foot of water, early in the spring, I want to start out with my first outside line running 4 to 5 foot below the surface. To accomplish that I have some 1/4 ounce bottom bouncers that I run 20 to 22 foot behind my Walleye Boards from Church Tackle. You can even use a split shot in the same size, six feet in front of the presentation. And, if you have some really small inline weights, they work just as good. The Double Action Flag System on the Church Boards allow you to set the tension for pulling back while running different presentations, it really is the true universal way to fish for walleyes.
From there I work down to the middle of my depth range of 9′ on the shallow side. Last year was my first year of playing around with the “Alabama Rig” style of presentation. When it comes to giving walleye the concept of a ”max flash” presentation, it doesn’t get any flashier than this. In this case I ran willow blades as my teaser on four equally spaced out arms, while in the middle bringing up the rear was a short 18 inch spinner rig with Matzuo Octopus Sickle Hooks.
For two weeks straight last year this presentation was on FIRE. 80% percent of the walleye we caught came on the rig. One of the times where you tinker with a concept and it just all comes together better than you expected…awesome feeling of accomplishment.
Rigs made up with willow blades also work great, but over the past three seasons I have been using more and more of these big #8 Indiana blades from Silver Streak. Both the Indy’s and these Whiptail blades from D&B Fishing.com, give you the elongated flash presentation, but add a lil’ extra noise as they spin along.
When concentrating on the bottom half of the water column, keep in mind these presentations go on the other side of the boat, it is time to bring out the standard in creating thump type noises, the Colorado blade.
From nine foot or roughly in the middle of the water column, down to my bottom of 18 feet, it is noise making time. Although the #4′s and #5 sized blades still have a time and place, most of the time, bigger is truly better when it comes to fishing for walleye on the Great Lakes and the #6′s rule. Stagger those blades out, hitting roughly 9′, 14′ and 17 foot down. Drag the bottom if you have to!
In the early spring, copper shmopper, give me a bright blue or shiny purple on a silver blade, and watch the boards go back! Something like Blue Perch or Paula’s Pride from BigEyeCustomLures.com, that will give the illusion of a bait fish swimming along during the transition of from the minnow lure bite to the true crawler bite. White bases like Confetti, Emerald Shiner and Baby Doll are also very effective when mixing it up early in the year.
With a spread like that going through the column, it wont take long to figure out where the fish are living. Adjust on the fly if need be, and remember that often in the early hours of the morning, most of your fish will be up high in the water actively feeding. Let the fish tell you what mix of blade styles they want and then give them as many of those presentations as you can!