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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
Windward Walleyes 
By Rick Olsen

It will wear you down, give you a headache, and test your character.  In fact it may even force you to throw in the towel, and head home early.  There’s no doubt that a hard wind and monster waves can take the fun out of just about everything, but if you’re a serious walleye fisherman it’s part of the program. 

The author didn’t let a little rough water keep him 
from nailing this hawg
When the wind starts to howl and the waves get taller and taller, most anglers cut and run and head for calmer waters.  That is certainly an option, but if you’re serious about catching ol’ marble eyes, sooner or later you’re going to stay, and you may even get to the point where you actually search out the worst of it, especially when you know how good bad can be.  Touring Pros are forced to fish in some extreme conditions, on a wide variety of waters, and have learned to deal with the worst that Mother Nature can dish out.  They’ve also learned that even under the most severe conditions, tremendous catches can be made. 
Tough conditions can often trigger intense walleye activity, and may be the very best time to have your lines in the water. From the customary “walleye chop” to three and four footers, a good wind can put things in motion that create an excellent feeding opportunity for hungry ‘eyes.  Walleyes are tuned into to their environment and instinctively know when and where their prey is most vulnerable, and that includes periods of high winds and hard pounding waves. 

   A stiff wind can flush out normally safe hiding areas and push minnows and baitfish into harms way, where walleyes on the prowl can cash in on the easy pickings.   It can also stir up clear water and help to trigger a shallow water feeding movement.  It all adds up to feeding walleyes, which is exactly what you’re looking for.  Minnows and baitfish will often set up camp on rocky reefs, bars and rubble areas where they can hide out in the cracks and crevasses, and safely elude predators bent on their destruction.   They can hang out in relative safety, most of the time.  However, when the right wind starts to blow the ensuing waves and current can flush them out and into trouble. 

   The wave and current action can also push free ranging schools of baitfish into the same areas where walleyes will sit and wait to ambush the unfortunate.   Schools of minnows and baitfish will often suspend out in the middle of nowhere,  that is until the wind comes along.  A hard wind and accompanying waves create a surface current that can move suspended bait into said areas creating a real feeding bonanza.  The harder the wind, the more current you have and the better the odds that there are going to be a number of active fish in the neighborhood.

   The wind can even be an advantage when chasing suspended walleyes, as it seems to really turn them on.  Whether it’s the light being broken up, or the extra oxygen created from all the wave action, something happens that really heats things up.  Although they’re not known for any kind of surface antics,  walleyes have been actually seen busting the surface chasing down hapless prey under the onslaught of heavy waves. 

   Whether you’re chasing walleyes on wind swept points, bars, reefs, or even fish that are suspended, you can get in on some fantastic action, but if and only if you have the intestinal fortitude to be there when it happens.

MinnKota Maxxum 101 bow mount trolling moto4r
Minnkota 101
 Besides having the guts, you better have the right equipment, and it all begins with a safe craft.  To get to the fish and back again, my partner Norb Wallock and I rely on the Crestliner 202 Tournament Series to get the job done.  The 202 is a twenty footer built to take on just about anything, but yet remain quite fishable.  Besides being safe, you also have to be able to control your boat, to be effective.  To help take control, a few gadgets can help, like drift socks and a powerful trolling motor.  The combination can tame the roughest water, and keep you where you want to be, when you want to be there.  A powerful electric trolling motor, like the 36 volt Minnkota Maxxum  101 can deliver an incredible amount of thrust, and may be exactly what you need to keep your boat positioned. 
Wave Tamer Drift Bag
J&B Originals Wave Tamer
By combining the thrust with a drift sock, like the Wave Tamer from JNB, 
you can still slowly troll a specific break line by using the sock to slow the drift, and the motor to keep the boat positioned.  Trying to do it without may be impossible, especially if the wind is really whipping it up.  One sock might do the trick but if you really need to 
put on the breaks, a second sock may be necessary.  Two socks can get you down to a crawl, and will allow for the slowest presentations, like rigging and jigging.    To slow down a forward trolling run, you can try running a kicker motor in reverse, or you can even drop a drift sock off of the bow. 
Just be sure you keep the rope short enough so that it stays out of the main motor or kicker.    If you’ve a mind to get in on some windy walleye action, use your head, and play it safe.  The best walleye fishing in the world isn’t worth risking your life.  If you have any doubts, or are concerned that your equipment isn’t up to the task, don’t go.  On the other hand, if you are prepared and you’re confident about your safety, don’t forget the net!

Rick Olson

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