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Emerald Green and Walleye Gold
By Bob Riege
Each year three couples come together to do some research and to get
maps marked for North Caribou Camps. The owners of North Caribou
Camps are Rob and Sandy Brodhagen and they are headquartered out of Pickle
Lake, Ontario. Rob told us at the last sportshow in Minneapolis that
he had a lake that he wanted us to try. The lake was called Troutfly.
Early reports were that this lake was very clear. In fact, Dave Hagen
who lives in Austin, MN., told me that the lake was really a tough bite.
“From the air you will see that the lake is emerald green and it looks
like you are flying in the Caribbean rather than a lake an hour north of
With this information Jim McDonnell “The Fishing
Professor” and his wife Almeda, from Royal, IA. , Tom and Sue Brown from
Minneapolis “Mr. Walleye Pros.” and Ginny, my wife and I decided that it
would be a great experience and a challenge to see if we could not only
catch fish, but trophy fish as well. Troutfly has large walleyes,
northern pike, lake trout and huge whitefish. The whitefish and ciscoes
are the main feed for these game fish.
With little encouragement we planned on fishing this lake the last
part of July and into the first week of August. Plannin the trip
is part of the fun and we did most of that by e-mail in the early part
of the summer. When we all met at Armstrong, Ontario to fly out.
The day of the fly out the weather was foggy and raining. We had
about a half a day delay before we could get airborne, but within an hour
we were at our cabin stowing our gear and getting ready for the rest of
the day of fishing.
Equipped with our combined knowledge we systematically set out on an
exploratory mission and this is what we found.
Walleyes are a structure oriented fish, most of the time. You
might find large schools on some Great Lakes that don't relate to specific
structure, but by and large they seek out structure. These walleyes
will be tight to the bottom, lying in the holes between rock and cuts in
the bottom. They may be feeding, or waiting in ambush to find an
easy meal that comes their way. When fishing structure, you have
to be able to stay tight to the structure or your lure presentation will
not be in the strike zone of the fish. Move just a boat length away
and you will be out of luck
Fish tend to locate along transitional zones. The bottom may
change from sand to rock or from mud to weeds; a drop-off may occur or
slope into deep water; or water in one sector may be a slightly different
color. The most important transition zones are the weeds. The
weeds or vegetation may be the key to successful angling.
Many anglers think of rocks, sand, drop-offs, and deep water when walleye
fishing. But walleye chasers are missing some good fishing if they
aren’t poking around in the weeds when they’re after walleyes, especially
during the fall months. Walleyes will make extensive use of weed
clumps if they’re available, and often the fish that are in the weeds are
looking for a meal, making them susceptible to any type of offering.
Fish are wary. This helps them survive and can also make them
difficult to catch. They utilize their excellent senses of vision
and hearing, detect motion with unerring accuracy using their lateral line,
and also use their sense of smell. Therefore, a cautious approach
is required of an angler.
With artificial lures, like Berkley Bubble Up Emerald Shiner and Berkley
Gulp, the presentation must be realistic. It should appear that the
offering is part of the normal food chain. Hunger is certainly a
major motivating factor, but fish also respond as predators and strike
something that moves. At times, they even exhibit antagonistic behavior
when biting an intruder to drive it away.
One of the first places I begin to look for these walleyes is along
an edge of a specific structure. These edges form breaks, which almost
act like barriers to hold fish a little longer to feed before they move
on. These are physical boundaries between shallow food
producing areas and deepwater areas of the lake. Here schools of
active walleyes meet concentrations of food and often this is a prime fishing
Rocks also attract fish, try rock piles, humps or where rocks and weeds
meet or are intermixed. Work it over thoroughly with a jig or live bait
presentation. Try to determine where fish are holding. Keep
asking yourself the question what is their pattern?
The object is to find specific structure that seems
to be holding fish. With a good depth finder like my Vexilar Boundary
Water, I can identify inside turns, rock humps, and edges of weed beds
that hold fish.
Backtrolling is something that I really enjoy.
Backtrolling will allow you to present your bait right in front of the
walleye's nose. In cold front conditions this is essential.
What you're trying to do is stay on a particular depth, or contour, where
it looks like the walleyes are holding. I use the 9.9 H.P. Mercury
and back into the wind along current breaks. This slows down the
bait and gives the walleyes plenty of opportunity to decide if it is something
they would like to eat.
If I hook a fish on an inside turn, I quickly throw
out a Lindy marker buoy and as soon as I am done landing that fish I will
move right back to that spot. The thing to remember is if you catch
one active walleye in a spot there are probably a dozen or so walleyes
in that same spot.
We knew from past experience that by this time of
year massive bait schools break up and walleyes head for specific structural
elements that funnel scattered, roaming forage past specific spots.
Look for long fingers or spines that protrude toward the main lake.
Roaming baitfish usually congregate along these fingers and filter down
them. Walleyes wait at the tips.
When working shallow areas to shore, especially when the water is clear,
keep your cast parallel to the shore. The most active fish will be
within 10 feet of shore, perhaps closer. If you cast the bait 30
feet out from the shore and retrieve it, the lure is in the most productive
zone for only the last 10 feet of the cast. If you cast the bait
parallel to the shore and retrieve it, it's in the fish zone all the time.
Walleyes will be along the rocky banks and shorelines in the summer because
they slide in behind the rocks to avoid current conditions and as a staging
place for ambushing their next meal. In dirty or stained water it's
possible to dabble a jig tipped with a Berkley Emerald Shiner minnow on
a long rod. Just lift and drop the jig around rocks and anything
else that breaks the current. Lately the advent of Berkley Gulp rigged
on a jig floated and pulsated along the shore line drives big walleyes
crazy and they crush that Gulp as it swims by.
If walleyes are not located shallow move out to
midlake humps. Search drop-off edges of large midlake points
and humps rising above the summer thermocline, using electronics to detect
the presence of baitfish and game fish. Some may be up along the
first drop-off or deep weed edge; others may be lying along the base of
the break where it bottoms out into the main basin. Snap jigging
Power Baits and Berkley Gulp along these breaks will produce active fish.
If they're tight to the bottom or slightly into weed cover and hard to
see, weave your rigs along the drop-off or weed line, paying particular
attention to irregularities that may concentrate fish, points, turns, and
changes in weed growth. This subtle structure change should hold
groups of fish in distinct areas.
I prefer shallow rock humps with big, boulder-sized
rocks. I also prefer them to be fairly close proximity to shore.
They don’t necessarily have to be tied to the shoreline, but they should
be fairly close.
Feeding within a lake, stream, or other body of water often becomes
a chain reaction. Fish hear the sounds of other fish feeding and
often begin to look for food themselves. The sounds of a tail thumping
and splashing can have a positive effect on many fish at the same time.
You first of all have to find them, then you have to get them interested
in your bait and finally make them interested enough to inhale your offering.
We were very successful at Troutfly and we caught many large fish some
of them are pictured with this article. If you would like an opportunity
to catch walleyes like these drop Rob Brodhagen a line at www.northcaribou.com.
or contact him by snail mail at: P.O. Box 990 Dryden, On P8n 3E3
Canada Phone 1-807-223-6533 or Fax at 1-807-223-8980
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