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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs

Work the Bite for Bigger Walleyes 
by Rick Olson

Good anlgers know how to find walleyes and put them in the boat using a variety of techniques under varying conditions.  Great anglers can do the same but at a whole different level, and they do so by getting the very most out of a given situation. 

Getting the most out of a given situation can mean more walleyes boated overall, and an even better shot at nailing a real hawg.  More walleyes boated ( inlcuding a few more of the larger models ) makes for more fun, and fun is what it's all about. 

One of the most important attributes of a great angler is the ability to see an opportunity when it present itself and take advantage of it.  Opportunities aren't always all that obvious and it takes an open mind and a willingness to experiment before you can cash in on what you might be missing.

Experimentation might mean giving up on something that is working in exchange for nothing more than a chance, which can be extremely difficult to do especially if you have only so much time to work with.  But thats the price you might have to pay if you want a shot at the good stuff. 

The good stuff is often found right next to, or even in the middle of the hottest action, and is largely overlooked.  A pack of anglers working a shallow flat for example, might be catching enough small fish to be quite content, but with a quick logistical move or simple change in tactics the number and quality of the fish boated could go up, way up. 

One of the most simple techniques for maximizing on your opportunites is to move a little deeper.  That doesn't necessarrily mean twenty, ten, or even five feet deeper, and could be nothing more than a foot or less.  The idea is to start close, and then slowly head deeper and see what you can find.  If there are active fish holding on top of a shallow flat, try finding the edge and start scanning deeper and deeper and see if you run out of fish.  If you're seeing 
suspicious looking marks holding down the break you may be in luck, and where you should take your first step into the unkown. 

Rick Olsen shows again how to put another big walleye in the boat On the flip side, if you've taken a stroll through deeper water with little or no success, you might try heading for the shallows, even if your gut tells you it can't possibly happen.  You never know for sure when walleyes are going to make a run for shallow water and if you don't do a little investigating you could really miss out.  To give you an example my partner and I were pre-fishing for a big team tournament on Mille Lacs and found schools of walleyes holding on rock piles in water so shallow you could actually see the bottom.   You could even see the fish and was the key to locating 
big schools of active walleyes. 
By trolling ever so slowly with the MinnKota and carerfully scouring rocky bars and reefs with a pair of polaroid glasses we could see the white tips on the tails of the fish.  From there we backed off and threw slip bobbers and leeches right 
into the middle of the pack.  The result was a lot of fish hooked and boated and a respecatable top ten finish.  The pattern was overlooked by most of the field, which included some of the country's top walleye anlgers.  Many of them stuck it out in deeper water where the action was extremely slow, but where most of the tournaments are historically won.  History or not, it pays to keep an open mind.  The same logic holds true for tackling suspended walleyes, which is a common phenomenon.  Quite often anglers will target walleyes that are showing up on their depth finders and miss out on the shallowest running fish, which might be riding too high to show up on electonics.  They may also stick with high riding fish when the really active ones are glued to the bottom.  Besides logistics, a change in tactics might be just the ticket and can pay off big time, even if what you've been using is presently working.  A move from live bait to a crankbait is great example and is often the answer to finding larger fish.  A crankbait like a Shad Rap or Storm Thunderstick cast or trolled through the same area where you've been nailing smaller walleyes often results in heavier fish boated, and is a technique the most successful tournament anglers heavily rely on. 
You could also take the change in tactics and move it deeper or shallower, depending on what you see happening.  If you've marked enough likely candidates in deeper water try to buzz a crankbait right in front of their noses, or just over their heads.  The idea is to keep from becoming complacent, and using what you know to find what nobody else has found.  What they haven't found is what dreams are made of, and what we're all really after. 

Rick Olson 

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