You have done everything right, you have a walleye on the line and to borrow a term from the football world, its time to play prevent defense. When I see a defense drop back to stop the big play, I cringe watching the opposing team chew up yardage underneath while moving down the field into field goal range. In the world of walleye fishing, prevent refers to not pulling off a knucklehead move and allowing a walleye to come off the hook. There are several things you can do to prevent this tragedy from happening.
Rod angle is the first and it applies after you take off your board. Once I remove my Walleye Board and crank the reel down while lowering my rod tip it is critical not to move the rod while the fish comes in. People have the notion that they have to help the guy netting by lifting the rod up to bring the fish closer to the surface….WRONG. More walleye come off the hook doing this than at any other time during the process. Let the person work the net and eventually you will get that fish in the box.
Since I started talking about nets a little bit already, lets stay focussed on the net itself. Most often the first mistake when it comes to the landing net is in the store where you bought it. Yes, before you even get it wet, that first mistake is often made by the angler while purchasing it. Like some other things in life, size does matter and the most common mistake is purchasing a net that is too small. It is true that probably for 70%, maybe, that the walleye coming back to the boat will fit into a standard sized boat net. I like to leave nothing to chance, so while some really good nets are 20 to 22 inches across, mine is 26 inches. That is the trolling net and the theory I developed over time with that is by the time the fish comes back to the boat, it is somewhat played out and less likely to thrash about. My jigging net is the same sized hoop with a slight difference, and that is the next point in the topic.
When considering a net, it is crucial to also consider the length of your handle. My trolling net’s handle is 6 x 3 foot, which means without sliding it out its six-foot long, plus the size of the hoop. For most fish I do not need to extend the extra 3 foot, but it does come in handy on lightly hooked fish when you need to reach out and secure it right away. At the very least I think 4 x 3 ft would be the shortest handle variation to get. On the jigging net my handle is 48 inches long, more than enough to reach over and scoop up the biggest spring prize. There are some 72 inch handles out there and if you have the room and the storage, by all means get it! If you get a 4 x 3′, you should be well equipped for both jigging and trolling.
Depth of net can also be critical, and 30 inches seems to be a nice balance in the size range. As you hand over hand or pull the net straight back, it pushes the fish down to the bottom with little chance to escape. For close range, it also gives you the ability to flip the net over enclosing your prize. I had the 42 inch net on the Mag Walleye Net from Beckman and honestly it was just too long and the holes in the mesh were really too big. Its bad when you have fifteen inch fish sliding out the side. Found a great replacement on Frabill’s website and both problems were solved.
I could go on about line, and then on to hooks, but its been done to death by others. Ten to 14 lb test is plenty for just about any Great Lake’s location. If you are free of sharp rocks, or are not directly plowing through the zebra mussels then 10 lb works great, if those conditions do exist, do not be afraid to beef it up a bit. The walleye really do not care 98% of the time.
Hooks, for the most part can be covered in one size and shape, #2 octopus. That size will get the job done, and do it well. You can play around if you want, I like a #1 as my first hook behind the beads and then trail two more on the snell with #2′s. Some run a #1 or #2 with a #8 or #10 treble trailing. I love the sickle style from Matzuo because the hook forms an anchor point where the fish cannot swivel off. It also gives me a better hooking percentage when I switch over from live bait (crawlers) to plastic worms when the silver bass and white perch are behaving like piranha and stripping the hooks clean.
It’s all about putting fish in the box, and these few minor tips will make it happen!