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Come ride the United States Pro Team Walleye Tournament Trail with touring walleye pro and hockey player Mike Peluso

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Hitting, Checking and Boarding 

By Mike Peluso

This past summer while pre fishing for a tournament I ran across a unique situation. People were catching all kinds of fish and most fish were very good. Having fished tournaments for quite a few years I looked back on my notes and found a pattern for this particular time of year. For some reason this body of water had kicked out some pretty nice fish over deep water. Most of the fish taken in the past were suspended and caught on deep diving cranks. With that I headed out on the water with one goal in mind. To find and catch fish on crank baits. 
I started out looking for fish on my Pinpoint Trolling motors keep you on the structure and on the fish 7520. I was getting good readouts on both forage and walleyes hanging around that 25 foot of water. With this I was excited to get started and began pulling both Bomber long A’s and Reef Runners. I pulled most of the morning and was only able to boat a few small walleyes. Confused over my lack of success I decided to put the camera down and check out what I was seeing. My Pinpoint was showing me exactly what I thought I was seeing and this put me in a frustrated state. Once again I decided to go to battle and put my cranks back down. I tried everything from different
speeds, colors, and making wide s-shaped runs to get these fish to bite. Still nothing was happening and I became very unsure of my trolling abilities. 
I went back to camp that night and began to go over my day on the water. Knowing other anglers were doing very well on Lindy rigs I was beginning to get nervous about my decision to run cranks. I looked back on my notes and it was telling me to stay with cranks. The last three events held on this body of water during this time of year had been won on cranks. So I left the bait at camp the next morning and proceeded to try to put together a program. On the way out I stopped off and checked a few areas and was marking a lot of fish in that 15 to 20 foot of water range. This came to no surprise because the day before
all of the fish I saw on the camera were viewed at the same depth. The only difference with these fish was they were within a foot of the bottom. I changed my program and decided to pull my baits close to the bottom. I was going to change my baits on my rods to something with less dive to it. Knowing this body of water is full of smelt I kept my Bombers and Reef Runners on to match the size of the forage. I was going to run less line to achieve a shallower depth with these baits. Letting out the first lines on my Off Shore Tackle and Trolling products for serious walleye fisherman planer boards I let out more line on my outside board. The rest of the boards I adjusted the lines to
where I thought they would be running 90% of the time. I began my run and waited anxiously. The first pass was dry and I made a turn towards the shallow side of the pull. As soon as my baits started hitting bottom all heck broke loose. Three out of the four lines had fish hanging on them and they were all very nice tournament size fish. It didn’t take me long to figure out these fish needed these baits to hit the bottom to trigger a strike. I adjusted all of my baits to do so and the rest was history. Looking back on this experience I realized walleyes could be fickle and be very hard to get to bite even when they are biting other live
bait presentation very well. I felt very confident I could get bigger fish to bite on plastic and I did so. Keeping a close eye on detail and with a pattern of hitting and checking out baits on the boards we were able to cash in on some big walleyes.

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