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Trolling or Holing?
by Mark Martin

The in-between season as winter approaches might mean open water or ice. Be ready to go either way when the weather can, too.

With the way the weather works in the northern climes, you never know what the tail end of fall and the onset of winter will bring. Sometimesit’s warm enough for open water. Other times it’s cold enough for ice. Then again, you might get a boat out one day and find ramps sealed the next.

All of which is why, when it comes to walleye fishing, I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get on fish. Troll a line or drill a hole—either end of the spectrum is possible. For last-chance walleyes in open water, trolling day or night with long, thin stickbaits is one of the most productive methods for big walleyes on the feed before winter. In the event of ice, however, I don’t stray far from the spots that last produced before hard water, and I jig them with a subtle motion that 
matches the walleye’s mood.

Right about now, the weather can go either way. You can, too.

Going for a Troll
Cold water has long had a reputation for necessitating live bait for walleye. But with the emergence of tournament fishing in the frigid waters of April and with all the time I’ve spent stalking walleyes year-round near my home, outside of Muskegon, Michigan, the efficacy of minnow baits is undeniable. Cold water in spring or fall makes little difference—it’s still cold water.
With the thin minnows, I’ve caught walleyes with water temperatures in the low 40s, even in the high 30s in December. The reason I like thin minnows in such conditions is due to their light side-to-side action accented by a roll around a center axis. No other lure supplies the key cold-water ingredients of Normark’s Rapalas. When the water is in the 40s, Rapala Husky Jerks are excellent trolling baits, particularly for Great Lakes walleye. When the temperatures, though, hover in the low 40s or even dip into the 30s, I like the even more delicate action of Rapala’s Original Minnows, floaters that dive slightly when trolled and wiggle just right — which is hardly at all at speeds of 1.0 mph or less.

One of the best bites occurs anywhere is in November and beyond on the 
Great Lakes. Trolling inshore areas around pierheads and river mouths with Husky Jerks behind planer boards puts more and bigger fish in my Lund than any other pattern on earth. This time of year, the fish move shallow in a trend similar to spring movements, when baitfish are in close and walleyes start running rivers. 

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order Church Tackles Walleye Board
and Flag system
To run two lines per person and get lures away from the boat in increasingly clear, zebra-mussel-filtered waters, I turn to Church Tackle planer boards—the Walleye Board, in particular, because of its size to plane away from the boat and provide resistance necessary to put hooks in fish. For nighttime trolling, Church Tackle offers a handy glow stick than can be attached to the boards for seeing strikes
To set lines and divide up the water column, I like to stagger the distance I’m running the Husky Jerks behind the boat. For instance, with No. 10 and No. 12 Down Deep Husky Jerks, I’ll put one lure out 10 feet behind the board, the next 15, another 20 and another 25. This way, I’ll be running four different depth levels to better zero in on the fish. For colors, I try to match Great Lakes forage with silvers and blues. New for 2004 will be the holographic Glass Minnows from Rapala in Down Deep models.
Lowrance X-15MT
Lowrance’s new X-15
My trolling speeds are about the same on and off the Great Lakes. I like to troll slowly, keeping my speeds around 1.0 mph on my Lowrance GPS. I’ll troll with my Mercury kicker motor most of the time for Great Lakes fish, but when a number of boats are working an area or at night, 
I’ll switch to the quiet power of my electric motor.
The electric excels especially for night trolling, either on the big lakes or on inland waters, for slow contour trolling. My electric motor is run by Trojan batteries, which show no diminished power in cold weather and will last longer than you’re able to fish given the conditions. At night, and water temps that slip toward 40 degrees, I’ll use the Original floaters from Rapala in size 13. When I put the lure over the side on Berkley 20-pound FireLine, I go just fast enough to make the lure wobble. To the Rap, I add a strip of WTP Inc. reflective 
tape to the sides of the lure, and I put a ring around tail and head with glow paint to help the walleyes zero in on the lure. Another trick to trigger strikes is to slowly ease the lure forward and drop it back on a semi-tight line—a move that often gets following walleyes to bite.

Going to the Hole

Aqua Vu Ice Pro camera system
Aqua Vu Ice Pro System
Following walleyes are by no means relegated to open water. When I start ice fishing, I watch the walleyes under the ice—and coming to my bait—on an Aqua-Vu underwater camera in the DT Series, an indispensable 
device that gives depth and water temperature. More than anything, 
though, I’m able to watch walleyes come in for a look at my bait and adjust my jigging motion accordingly.
Jigging Rapala
Jigging Rapala
With a Jigging Rapala, to which I add a minnow to the middle treble, I’ve found by watching the camera that a light jiggle is all the action 
necessary. Twitch the lure too hard or drop it to bottom, and off the walleyes go.
The spots I choose at first ice are remarkable similar to the ones I’ve fished in open water. I like to take waypoints from where I’ve caught my last open-water walleyes and return to them. In open water, too, I rely on electronic contour maps in my Lowrance from Navionics. Navionics maps give contours on your GPS units, and the same points and humps that are noted on the map—and last produced in the fall—are the first spots I check at first ice.
StrikeMaster Lazer Mag Ultra Ice Auger
Lazer Mag 
But since mobility is somewhat limited in ice fishing, I wind up drilling a lot of holes with my StrikeMaster auger, which has the gasoline power to drill plenty of holes along a contour line or hump from shallow to deep. Also, before a lot of snow gets on the ice (and even when it does), I tame the slick conditions with Get-a-Grip treads by StrikeMaster, which make it easy to keep your footing and drill plenty of holes. Meanwhile, for electronics and lights inside a my Clam Corp. Fish Trap, a highly portable shanty that accommodates all your gear in its sled design on your way out to your fishing hole, is another Trojan Battery, the VRLA Super-Gel Cycling Series. Which way you go now—to open water or ice—is largely out of your hands. 
It’s in Mother Nature’s, and it only makes sense to play with the cards she deals you. Troll if you can or jig if you must. Either way, you’ll be well on your way to walleyes.


Chip-In's Island Resort & Casino Presents 
Second Annual Bay de Noc Big Walleye Ice Fishing Vacation 4 days 3 nights ~ February 8-11, 2004
Classroom Seminars * Lodging * Meals
Ice Fishing on Bays de Noc * Many Giveaways!
Professional Walleye Anglers
Kim "Chief" Papineau - Storm Angler of the Year
Mike Gofron - PWT Champion
Mark Martin - Rapala Angler of the Year
Daryl Christensen - Super Pro Winner
 Ross Grothe - NAWA/Cabela's Angler of the Year
$425 per Person (only 84 openings)
Includes lodging, meals and guides.
All participants receive a fishing rod and tackle package.
For more information or to register,
 call Debbie Wickstrom at 800-682-6040 / 906-466-2941 (Casino) ext. 220

Lake View Lodge Devils Lake ND Finest Resort Drift Control Sea Anchors the Walleye pros choice for boat control and safety
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The Outpost Lodge on Lake Oahe South Dakota
Lake View Lodge Devils Lake North Dakota
Church Tackle free drawing  for planer boards every month
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Mystic Moose Lodge Hayward Wisconsin located in the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest on beautiful Moose Lake.
Chamberlain South Dakota

Erie Islands Resort and Marina

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