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When Inches mean Pounds
By John Kolinski

EDITOR’S 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.

By nature, competitive walleye anglers are weight-watchers, and that doesn't
apply strictly to their waistlines. There are times during a walleye's seasonal routine, and particularly the immediate postspawn period, when inches of water can put pounds of fish in your boat or on your stringer. For years, many anglers have bought into the age-old theory that postspawn female walleyes go into a strict rest and recovery funk and become all but impossible to catch. In turn, those anglers spend their time exploring deeper lake haunts or backwater holes on river systems hoping to catch a few males while they wait for the big girls to become active.
Over the last few years, I've become a firm believer that shallow water is
the place to be. It's not a big window of opportunity, covering maybe three
weeks, but it's a time period that can produce outstanding numbers of big fish.
Everyone has a different idea of what defines shallow water. I've heard many
anglers describe a bite in six to eight feet as a shallow-water bite. I tend to
look in even less water -- from one to four feet
When you consider what is most important to a post-spawn walleye, the
shallow-water approach makes a lot of sense. These fish want to eat, and they
want to expend as little energy as possible while doing it as they regain their
strength after the rigors of procreation. Shallow water is typically a few degrees warmer than the main body of a lake or river, which in turn draws baitfish into areas where they are easy for the walleyes to catch. In river systems, I've seen small shad and other baitfish scatter when I've pitched a jig or crankbait up next to shore. On my home waterof Lake Winnebago, I've been able to see the baitfish and been able to catch walleyes from shoreline areas that don't produce any other time of year. Shallow water often holds structure such as rocks, wood or even vegetation that provide perfect ambush places. And finally, in river systems, shallow water typically means less current for the fish to battle.Another condition that often factors into the equation is the high, murky water that typically accompanies spring. Dirty water provides a sense of security that will keep walleyes shallow when clear water might drive them elsewhere. And while dirty water is often a spring constant in river systems, it may take a little wind to stir things up and make those hungry females comfortable in some lakes and reservoirs.

Two different scenarios can present themselves in natural lakes during the
postspawn period. There will usually be a group of fish that dawdles in a
shallow basin of a lake for several weeks after the spawn. There will also be a
group of fish that spawn in areas adjacent to deeper water, then hold nearby
while slipping up shallow for brief periods to feed. The important thing to remember is that none of these fish are moving great distances to feed. They are conserving energy and won't be far away from day to day. Jigs and  crankbaits are both productive presentations for catching these fish. In both cases, however, it pays to stay back from the shoreline you are fishing and make long casts. You will avoid spooking extremely shallow fish as well as cover both the shoreline and the first breakline off shore where the fish may be holding in between feeding binges. I prefer to use a 7 foot TICA Quality fishing rods and reels TC4 Spinning Rod with a moderate fast tip matched with a TICA Camry GP3000 Spinning  Reel. 

TICA Camry GP 3000
The long spool and double worm support system on the TICA GR/GP reels provides an incredibly smooth and even line winding on to the spool.  This allows for faster, longer and more precise casting. 
Crankbaits allow an angler to cover water quickly. My favorites at this time
of year are shallow Rapala the lures of choice Shad Raps in size 7 or 8. I've also had good success with Rattlin' Thin Fins. Both baits can be slow-rolled to appeal to less aggressive fish while retaining enough action to get their attention. Both baits also imitate shad or shiners, and it always pays to match the forage as much as possible. Finally, both baits have a short profile, which I believe makes them
an easier target for a lazy walleye.With any crankbait, tuning is critical. I like to vary my retrieve speed. I'll give the bait a few quick cranks, let it come to a complete stop and continue with an ultra-slow retrieve until I learn which method triggers more strikes. An untuned crankbait will often kick out to one side or roll over when
retrieved at higher speeds. You can tune them by pulling them swiftly through
the water next to your boat or shore to see how they react. Whichever direction
they kick out away from you, bend the eye slightly in the opposite direction
until they run true.
Jigs work well when the fish are even more lethargic. Go as light as possible
to provide a slower fall and keep the jig in the fish's strike zone longer. That
could mean using something as small as 1/16th ounce. Plastic tails will help
slow the fall, too. Live bait, typically minnows during the spring, will enhance
your presentation and add additional buoyancy to small jigs. 
Lindy little Joe Fuzzy Grubs one of my personal choices Lindy's Fuzzy Grubs
are a proven standby that meet all my needs.
One problem that can occur while fishing jigs in shallow water in lakes or
rivers is debris. That's another reason to go lightweight. It also helps to keep
the jig moving rather than letting it drop to the bottom, at least until you get a few feet offshore.
What they cants see wont spook them Trilene Solar Easy to see Tough to beat
Berkley Trilene XL Extra flexibility for better control Berkley FireLine so smooth and easy to handle its a no brainer
Your choice of line can be important. Berkley's Solar high-visability
monofilament or high-vis green Fireline help an angler keep visual contact in
murky water and detect strikes in windy conditions. When the water is clearer,
Vanish or clear Trilene XL are good choices that cast well.
MinnKota Maxxum 101 bow mount trolling moto4r
Any time you are fishing a lot of shallow water, a quality bow-mount trolling
motor is another essential. It's going to get a workout, and it's sometimes
going to need the stamina to pull you around all day. My Minnkota 101 with 101 pounds of thrust has never let me down.
Any time you are fishing a lot of shallow water, a quality bow-mount trolling
motor is another essential. It's going to get a workout, and it's sometimes
going to need the stamina to pull you around all day. My Minnkota 101 with 101
pounds of thrust has never let me down.

Join the walleye weight-watchers this spring. Take off a few inches and take
out a few pounds, but be considerate of the resource. Take only what you can eat
and always eat what you take. Turn those big females loose for the anglers of
E-mail John Kolinski

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