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Lucky charm walleyes
By John Kolinski

EDITORíS NOTE: John Kolinski is an eight-time championship qualifier during
his seven years of professional fishing on the Professional Walleye Trail and
the Masters Walleye Circuit.

Any walleye angler who says theyíd rather be lucky than good is only trying
to be modest. In tournament fishing circles, it pays to be good more often
than it pays to be lucky. Weíve all been in situations where one boat among a group seems to be catching most of the fish, and weíve all been in a boat where one angler consistently gets the most action.
I usually tell my partners that Iím just that good when Iím the one putting
the fish in the boat. In reality, however, there is always some subtle difference in presentation, location or equipment that gives me an edge. Call them my lucky charms, if you must.
My Triton 205 helps keep me on the fish in the worst of conditions Any springtime walleye angler is only as good as his or her boat control. Often, weíre dealing with fish that are relating to specific current breaks or structure edges. Stay on top of them and youíll catch your share. Miss the target area by a few feet and youíll strike out. Wind is another factor, and there never seems to be a shortage of it in April. One advantage I enjoy while vertical jigging or battling the wind is the Triton boats 205 Iíve been running for the past couple of years. Weíve all seen boats that get thrown a foot or two off course every time a gust of win comes up. That doesnít happen with the Triton. Its design keeps plenty of keel in the water when itís not under power. It grabs hold and sticks, and it
keeps you on the fish while others fight for control. Your bow-mounted trolling motor is no less important than the boat when it comes to staying on line and staying on top of the fish in windy conditions or swift current. MinnKota trolling motors Maxum 101 has been the perfect fit for my
Triton. With 101 pounds of thrust drawn from a 36-volt system, itís got the
power to take me anywhere in any conditions, and the battery efficiency to go
from dawn to dusk. I can use the Minnkota to slip the current or slow down a drift, and I can use it to move quickly from spot to spot when casting shoreline. Itís anasset for pulling live bait rigs, too, especially in shallow water where
stealth is preferred over even the quietest-running kicker motors. When it comes to jigging situations, in my opinion an angler is only as good as the equipment he or she is using. Again, Iíve been in situations where the only difference between catching fish and just fishing was the rod, reel and line being used. Early season walleyes arenít always the most aggressive, and the ability to
separate those subtle bites from a rock or a clam shell is critical. Iíve
gradually become a firm believer in Berkley Fish wont let go Fireline for several reasons.
First of all, itís tough. I use a lot of the 6-pound test, 2-pound diameter
high visability green in vertical jigging and casting applications. With all
those razor-sharp zebra mussels that are infesting our waters, Iíve been able
to keep a jig in the water far longer than anglers who accompany me using
traditional monofilament lines. I also spend less time hung up on snags. I literally can feel a log when my line rubs across it, and I can often lift my jig over before it gets snagged. If it does get snagged, Fireline is tough enough to pull it loose in many cases before the line breaks. Perhaps the biggest advantage Iíve found in using Fireline is the quick, solid hooksets it imparts. The sensitivity lends itself to quicker reaction by the angler, and with no stretch, hooksets are usually solid and deep. Some anglers express concern about losing fish once theyíve hooked them because of the no-stretch factor. When matched with the right rod and reel combination, thatís not an issue. Iíve found Berkleyís medium-heavy action,6-foot Series One jigging sticks and lightweight Abu-Garcia Fishing Equipment for Life T500 spinningreels a perfect fit for Fireline. The rod has the quick tip I like for
hooksets, but itís also limber enough to let the walleye work once itís
hooked. The T500 has one of the smoothest drag systems for any reel its size,
and itís critical that a fish can take line when the stretch factor doesnít
exist. Your choice of jig styles can give you an edge, too. Current situations call for current-cutting heads (flat heads, arrow heads, bullet heads, banana heads, etc.) that allow you to stay directly on top of your jig. Thatís critical for several reasons. The more vertical you can fish, the lighter jig you can use, which makes it easier for a lazy walleye to inhale your bait. Youíll also have more feel and quicker reaction on those light-biting fish when you are directly over them as opposed to 20 feet ahead of them with a big bow in your line.
In other situations, such as pitching jigs in lakes or vertical jigging in
little or no current, buoyancy is an important factor. Sometimes, walleyes
want a jig thatís pounding the bottom and creating a stir. Other times, a
slower rate of fall works better. Wind and casting distance often dictate what size of jig we must use, so adjustments have to be made in body style to achieve the desired rate of fall. In general, hair jigs are more buoyant than bucktail, which is more buoyant than maribou. But if the walleyes are foraging on small minnows, a hair jig might be too bulky and bucktail might fall too fast.  Then you might want to go with some sort of plastic to add buoyancy while retaining a small profile. There are also times when fussy walleyes wonít touch a jig with any kind of body. Thatís when I go to a plain jig head tipped with a minnow. I like long-shanked, wide-gapped hooks in these jigs that I believe aid in setting
the hook, and I like heads with slight stand-up properties that keep the bait
in the fishís face rather than dragging below the jig on the bottom. Finally, thereís no question that an anglerís position in the boat often dictates who will catch the most fish. If Iím casting a shoreline or a mid-lake point and operating from the front of the boat, it follows that Iíll get first crack at the fish that are actively feeding. Anglers further back in the boat are often well-advised to work the deeper stretches of the break. The same holds true when fishing eddies in river situations. If you know where the fish are likely to be, youíll probably be the one who catches them. Experience has proven to me that the most active fish will be at the top of the eddy, but the largest walleyes can often be found at the bottom end where the dead water wraps around toward shore. Target those two areas and youíll have another advantage over the competition.
Iíd rather be good than lucky, but neither would be likely without my ďlucky
charms.Ē




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