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Prime Time Walleyes
By Ron Anlauf
There’s a lot of talk about just how good first walleye angling can be and that maybe so, but what follows can be every bit as good. In fact there's some really hot action left for those that stay with it and are willing to make the moves necessary to catch up with a fish that can't seem to stay in one place for very long. Mid season walleyes aren’t all that tough to find and are usually still plenty active and that plays right in to the hand of those willing to stay the course.

They’re not that hard to find because they typically set up on deeper hard bottom breaks

and drop offs, a.k.a. structure. Structure can come in many forms and includes deeper

points, humps, break lines, etc. Taking a look at a good map will get you quickly pointed

in the right direction and save can you a lot of time and effort. Look for deeper structure

nearest the deepest portion of the lake, and then look for anything that can help

concentrate fish.


Ron Anlauf worked his plan for this huge


A good depth finder will help make the job of finding a breakline much easier and can even help you find fish. Early in the season you can usually shoot right through the ice (as long as it isn’t roughed up or busted up) and see bottom reading as well as anything holding off, like fish. What you need is a flat smooth surface and a little water to make a seal around the face of the transducer to get a reading and why I carry a self lighting torch. The torch melts enough ice in seconds and can even smooth out the surface, to a certain extent. When it comes to depth finders I’ve basically used them all and prefer the flasher types and this year I’ll be using the new Ice Flasher Series from Humminbird. These high tech units utilize fiber optics to produce an incredible super sized display that is easily read, even in direct sunlight. They also have dual cone width transducers which allow you to take in more, or eliminate unwanted interference (like your neighbor’s bait). The Ice 45 and 55 models even have a digital readout that leaves nothing to question when it comes to exact depth.

With the depth finder you can start to get an idea of a how an area is laid and can begin trying to uncover some of the concentration points. High concentration spots can include little points, inside turns, and areas that break more quickly than others. What you’re looking for is something a little different than the rest, as those are the spots that fish tend to load up on. You can also separate the different areas by when they should be expected to produce and key on the best spots for that specific time of the day. It really isn’t all that complicated, it’s just that you may want to move deeper during the day and shallower at sunup and sundown. If you happen to be fishing shallow when you should be deep (or deep when you should be shallow), you might miss the whole thing.
Good daytime spots include the deepest edge of a break or the base of a deep hump

where the break starts to flatten out. Good morning and evening spots include the top

edge of the break and right into the middle of a hump or bar. The aforementioned is

nothing more than a rule of thumb and there’s always exceptions but that info can help you get pointed in the right direction. It would also be best to narrow your search down to two or three key areas, as there just isn’t enough time in the day to effectively cover much more.
The fact is you can’t be in two places at one time, or can you? You can if you trade in

one of your rods for a tip-up, and let it do what it’s going to do. Tip-ups can provide

some range and allow you to divide your attention between potential fish holding areas.

A good plan of action would include working a jigging spoon on the most likely looking

spots for that time of the day, and placing a tip-up where they might be. It’s a great way

to keep the fish honest, just in case they’ve thrown you a curve. Another plus to using a tip-up is the fact that a tripped flag can really get the adrenaline going. First off there’s a mad dash to get to it, followed by gingerly picking up the line to see if anybody’s home, and finally setting the hook on those left holding the bait. It’s also a way to vary your presentation as you never know for sure what old marble eyes is looking for. There will be times when they’re only interested in something jumping like crazy, and a bait sitting dead still at others. The combination of a two prong approach will help you nail it down.
A key to successful tip-up angling is getting the bait set at the right depth, and usually

demands that you be within a foot or so of the bottom. To help with the set up try

using a slip bobber knot to mark the surface after lowering a clip-on depth finder to the

bottom. From there you’ll know how much line to reel up onto the tip-up to keep the

bait in the “zone”.

After you get a tip-up set on a likely spot it's time to get to work on the other part of the

plan and where a jigging spoon really comes into play. A spoon in the right hands be can extremely effective and there is no reason why your hands can't be the right ones. It just takes a stick to it attitude and not giving up if you don't immediately succeed.

One of the hottest lures on ice has been the Northland Buck Shot Rattle Spoon. There's a few reasons why it's been so hot including size, color, and the racket a rattle can make. The Buck Shot Rattle Spoon comes in sizes from 1/16 to 3/4oz which means you can find one that’s not too big, not too small, but just right for ol' marble eyes. It's also available in some great colors including several glow patterns. The rattle is another big key to the spoon's success as it can really make a difference in the number of walleyes you're able to put on the ice. For whatever reason rattles do work, and if you're not rattlin' you definitely should be. See you on the ice, with a tip-up and a spoon.

Ron Anlauf

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