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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
Patterns For Bigger Walleyes 
by Rick Olson


Putting together a successful pattern is the key to catching more, and bigger, walleyes. Pattern fishing is a method that can help you maximize on your opportunities, resulting in more fish boated, and a serious increase in the overall fun factor. Itís also a method that successful tournament anglers have learned to capitalize on, and is directly responsible for heavier and more consistent catches. 

Pattern fishing goes beyond simply finding and catching, although thatís certainly part of it. A pattern can take all of that finding and catching to the next level, a level that most anglers never see. Once a pattern has been discovered, you can then find patterns within a pattern. Discovering patterns within a pattern is the 
key to the heaviest catches, and what youíre ultimately hoping to find. 

Although it may all sound a little complicated, itís really a simple process of taking what you know, or what you have learned, and keying on the most effective parts. A basic pattern can include any number of techniques for boating old marble eyes, such as tolling Shad Raps over shallow rocky bars, or pitching a 1/16 oz. Foxee jigs to flooded timber, or dragging live bait rigs along deep transition lines. How you get it done isnít all that important, as long as you do get it done. 

The first step in uncovering the basic pattern, is finding where and how you can catch at least a few fish. Before you can claim discovery of a pattern, you have to break a few eggs. One fish reveals very little, two is better, but still not enough, while three can provide enough information to at least get you pointed in the right direction. On other hand, you have to get the first one before you can ever get to the second, or third, and so on, and so on. 

Once you trick that first walleye into giving it up, make note of how and exactly where, and try to do it again. If you canít successfully repeat the process, it may be time to move on. If you are able to repeat, do it over and over again, until your satisfied with itís effectiveness. After the effectiveness has been established, try to repeat the process elsewhere, under similar conditions. If youíre able to repeat the process, you have the basic pattern, at least for now. 

Once youíve established a basic pattern, the next move is to try and find the patterns inside the basic pattern. For example: Letís say youíve been whacking the two to five pound walleyes by dragging a bottom bouncer and spinner over a deep rock hump, and you have even managed to boat a big eight pounder that came when you accidentally strolled out into deeper water. 

Trolling a bouncer over a deep rock hump is obviously the basic pattern, but there may be more to it. The first thing to look at is those two to five pounders, and if there was anything different about where the larger fish were taken. Anything different could be a little deeper, a little shallower, or something as simple as a change in blade color, that separates the way they were caught from the all of the rest. If there is something you can put a finger on, you may be looking at a pattern within a pattern. Another consideration is that hawg that showed up when you inadvertently got off course, and headed out into deeper water. A hawg like that could be nothing more than an accident, or it could be an important clue to finding a serious big fish pattern. 


The Author Rick Olson with a nice pattern walleyw

To prove it out, youíll have to go back and try and repeat. Big fish donít always come fast, or easy, but they can be caught. The thing is, to cash in on a big fish pattern you may have to spend a lot more time catching fewer fish. On the other hand, the extra time spent waiting could result in the catch of a lifetime, and something that grand memories are made of.  As mentioned before, if you can repeat a successful process, you have put together the basic pattern, at 
least for now. At least for now, because things change. Factors like the time of day, cloud cover, wind, and cold fronts, can have a dramatic effect on your basic pattern, and is something that must be considered. 

In that respect, the basic pattern can change throughout the course of a day. For example: The basic pattern during lowlight conditions may find you trolling Tail Dancers over shallow rocky flats, while a mid day pattern may include slowly working live bait rigs and jumbo leeches on deep, underwater points. The thing to keep in mind is the fact that patterns do change, and you may have to adjust to continue to be consistent.

Rapala Tail Dancer
Rapala Tail Dancer
When trolling the Tail Dancer, you may find that a particular color produces larger fish, or that a certain color produces better at a certain time of the day, or that certain colors are more effective with the presence or absence of cloud cover. When working the live bait rig, you may find that larger fish come when youíre at a dead stop.
On the other hand, they may show up when youíve picked it up a little, and 
added a small amount of speed. Itís all a matter of a pattern within a pattern. 

They say you have to learn to walk, before you can run. That being so, finding the basic pattern is the same as learning to walk, while finding the pattern within a pattern is akin to an all out sprint. The better you become at finding the basic pattern, the better youíll be at uncovering all those quirky patterns within a 
pattern. Itís a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Rick Olson






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