Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Out of The Box For Opener...

 OPENER IS HERE!!!! Well almost, only a week away.  However, I guarantee every fisherman/gal is especially jacked this year!  A normal ice out pattern, that has been preceded by 2 nuclear winters, allowed the anticipation to build for weeks and are we ready! Boat is rigged, rods are rigged, cooler is packed, just one more week of work before you head to your favorite opening lake. 

Now for the potential, and I stress, potential bad news...We share this glorious world with Mother Nature and, from time to time, she likes to let us know who is in charge.  We know what weather we want, partly cloudy, Northwest wind blowing at 10-15 MPH, high 50's maybe 60's.  But, what if opening day brings a massive cold front, after a week of 60's, opening day high 42 degrees.  Or perhaps it is a blue bird, no wind, no clouds, high in the 60's, but no sign of the walleye chop that will provoke those finicky walleyes to be in a feeding mood.  No matter, there are fish to be caught and you will be out there.


To combat the unexpected, I contacted some of the finest fishing minds in the north country to give you some tips, some "outside the box" ideas in case Mother Nature shows herself in her full glory. 

Matt Breuer, Owner North Country Guides Service
On and around opener, most walleye anglers are looking for fish in either current areas, or shallow sand or rocks. I've heard anglers say that there's no need to fish deeper than 13 feet of water in the month of May. While this could hold true, and be a successful state of mind, there's no fun involved in fishing where everyone else is. Deep water goes untouched around opener, and the fish that inhabit the deep water might not see a bait in May. Don't be afraid of tying on a little heavier jig, and working 20-30 feet of water and beyond. Many early spawn fish will lay out in deep water resting. Some of the biggest fish in May are found in the deeper water. Concentrate on the bases of break lines and points. Don't discount mid-lake structure either, as some fish will spawn on humps and sunken islands, then simply slide off the shelf into the deep water to rest.

Jason Durham, Owner Go-Fish Guide Service
A tough opener for walleye simply comes down to two factors; weather conditions and the fishes current status in relation to spawning. Both of those factors cannot be influenced by an angler, but one can make changes to adapt to the situation. The first recommendation is to fish much shallower than you would typically consider for walleyes. It's common for walleyes to actively feed in water 4-6 ft around rocks and gravel flats in the spring. You can find them even shallower than that during low light periods and in areas with current. To cover water quickly, use shallow diving jerk baits and exponentially increase your odds by targeting the low light periods (sun up and sun down). If you plan to be out all day and the walleye are being downright uncooperative, don't be afraid to abandon them. Crappie fishing is usually spectacular around the opener and this year Minnesota has also introduced an early season catch and release only bass season. A few exciting catches of another species isn't only enjoyable, it will help you refocus and concentrate on walleye again when the time arrives.

Capt. Tim Hanske, Leisure Outdoor Adventures
Since the infestation of Zebra mussels on the Gull Lake chain in the Brainerd Lakes Area, the clear water has made many anglers change techniques for catching walleyes.  Slip-bobbers have become a staple in my boat.  Slip-bobbers give the advantage of “stealth-mode” in these extremely clear waters. I like to hold that boat 30 feet away from the desired depth, and then cast the presentation to the fish. The best part is that you can adjust the slip-stop for any depth, increasing your coverage of the area. The right size jig, tipped with a leech or fathead minnow can really turn your day around!   

Chuck Hasse, Leisure Outdoor Adventures

You’ve tried every jig size, color and combination you had in the tackle box. Rainbows, fatheads, golden shiners, spottail shiners, crappie sized minnows, you name've tried it. The mood on the water quickly shifts from optimism to skepticism. Before you call it a morning and head in for a warmup, try one more thing first...The presumption many anglers take to start the season is that there are two speeds; slow and slower.  I will tell you that this is not necessarily true. What anglers seem to forget is that the Walleye is still a predator fish.  Baits that are sped past them with action or noise often times induce a natural reaction of the fish to strike, even when not in the mood.  The urge to catch something that might get away, or a quick sudden movement is sometimes enough to trigger that mechanism in their brain to react.  Don’t be afraid to dial that speed up to 1.0 to 1.5 mph. Aggressive jigging actions paired with speed might just be the successful combo to trigger that fish to strike.



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