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By John Campbell
Many times at seminars I am asked how can anyone fish a new body of water and catch large walleyes? The answer is "research" the solution is a little more complex than that. Research is going to involve a lot of time listening and keying in on fish patterns during a specific time of year.
When going to a new body of water you may want to find out as much about the lake, river or reservoir before you actually get there. Your research is going to take sometime so the sooner you get started the more knowledge you will gain.
One source of information that I like is Fishing Hot Spots Maps. They have a variety of maps that contain all kinds of information about the particular body of water that you are planning to fish. These maps show contours and they give anglers tips as to what to use in certain areas. I like to take these maps and mark on them with colored markers. I might highlight a 5' contour with a yellow marker, a 10' contour with a green marker, and use a hot pink marker for a 20' contour. Why? I am looking for transitional areas.
The transitional area includes where gravel turns to sand, mud meets rock, drop-offs, wave-washed points, deserted sandy bottom beaches, bottle necks between two different land masses, or near a culvert where fresh water is filtered through a rock causeway.
The edge of a specific structure is a great place to start looking for walleyes. 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 deep water areas of the lake. Here schools of active walleyes meet concentrations of food and often this is a prime fishing area.
By fishing the edges of weeds, drop-offs and structure like rocks, you will increase your chances of finding a funnel point where fish concentrate. These spots vary but are based on factors like: water temperature, availability of baitfish, oxygen, light level, structure and schooling tendencies. Success rests with proper presentation. Once you have located the edge and fish, the next step is to entice them to bite. Your bait presentation will depend upon the specific edge that you have selected. If the walleyes are directly below and concentrated on a physical edge you can backtroll a livebait rig, jig, or a bottom bouncer rig, keeping the bait among the fish you see on the depthfinder. If you find the fish strung out along the edge, keep the bait moving and they will bite. If they're clumped up in one spot, hover over them and vertically jig them.
Rocks also attract fish, try rocky shorelines. 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?
Another method would be to hire a guide or ask if you can interview him on the phone. You could contact Game and Fish agencies and the Army Corps of Engineers for up-to-date information on water temps and seasonal patterns. Keep in mind the seasonal patterns for walleyes at all times of the year. For example in early spring walleyes are usually found rather shallow. When the spring warms into summer you will find walleyes moving out to weed edges and rock areas or in mid-lake humps. In the heat of the summer you may find them in deep lake basin and then the cycle starts all over again as the water starts to cool. If you know the time of year you will be fishing a lake or reservoir you need to key in on what type of structure where they can be found.
Once I’ve gathered all the information I can from the above sources it is time to visit the various tackle and bait shops around the area that I am going to fish. They want you to experience success and buy tackle so they will be honest with you about the types of lures and presentations that you should use. I would also visit the boat landings, resorts, and campgrounds, you will be pleasantly surprised at the information you learn at these areas.
When fishing on your chosen body of water use search techniques like a bottom bouncer and spinner to cover a lot of water. This presentation will allow you to contact active fish by covering more water. How important is a specific pattern to the Lake that you are about to fish on? Well believe it or not, it is the most important factor when fishing for walleyes. Pattern fishing is nothing new, anglers have been doing it for years. Establishing a pattern is simply described as finding where the most walleyes are most susceptible to bait.
After you have experienced success in one location refer to your map and try to find similar locations that have all the elements. Use the same presentation and you will probably find another very active area. By the end of the day you will have four or five areas that have become your favorite.
That is the research that goes into strategies for catchin' new 'eyes. If you are interested in finding out more about walleye fishing you can also get other tips from the web at www.walleye.info Hope to see you on the new body of water soon!
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