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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
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
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
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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