Mark Martin Wins In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail
Tournament and $50,000 in Chamberlain, South Dakota
Finding those October walleyes
||Chamberlain, S.D. Pro angler Mark Martin of Twin Lake, Michigan, weighed
18 fish for 37.26 pounds to capture the three-day In-Fisherman Professional
Walleye Trail (PWT) tournament and the $50,000 first prize on the Missouri
River in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
The win at the April 25 27 event is Martin’s second on the tour
since its start in 1990, when he won the Championship on Lake of the Woods,
Minnesota. Since then, Martin has been the only pro to fish every PWT tournament,
scoring 13 top-10 finishes and competing in every Championship event.
by Mark Martin
In fall, walleyes can be anywhere—say, six inches under the surface in
80 feet of water or tight to bottom in 10 feet. Sound challenging? It can
be, unless you know how walleyes drift off of structure and suspend in
the vicinity of bait. Finding them is a looking game with quality electronics;
catching them is a straining game with planer boards, spinners and crankbaits.
The pattern holds true wherever you are, from Great Lakes to inland waters,
and wherever walleyes are chasing baitfish. Which, it turns out, is everywhere.
The Baiting Game
The bait connection betrays the walleye’s presence. In fall, when walleyes
ramp up their feeding before winter, the fish will never be far from food.
On the Great Lakes, you might see enormous pods of one- to three-inch gizzard
shad skittering on the surface or as big blobs on a locator. Shiners and
the like herd up as well on inland waters, and predators are never far
How do you find them? Start looking for structure on a map and then
with electronics. Points, humps and weed edges are all fair game.
Walleyes will do this day and night. The most important thing to remember
is not to glue yourself to structure the walleyes will wander away from
it if bait is present.
|But when you look with a quality locator that pinpoints fish and bait,
such as Lowrance’s LCX 15MT, the key is to veer away from the structure
and look over open water. If you’ve seen fish on structure at a certain
level—15 feet, for instance you can bet they’ll be at that same depth over
open water, from hundreds of yards to half a mile away from the structure.
The best way to enter into search mode is to start trolling. This way
you can cover water and zigzag to find fish. It would be far too time-consuming
to jig or live-bait rig. Trolling, on the other hand, spreads lines to
the sides of the boat and behind it—the better to cover a swath of water
at different depths.
I always try to maximize my efforts with the most rods possible and
the greatest coverage. Enter planer boards, the handy devices that veer
lines away from the boat. With them, you can run more rods without tangling
and pull lures through more territory.
Anything heavier will sink the board. Even small fish or a piece of weed
will sink it, which is a big help when you’re trying to keep your lures
clean. A large fish will sink the little board like a bobber—something
I love to see. With the TX-12, which is twice the size of the TX-6, you
can get away with weight to two ounces, which you might need for deep spinnering.
Church TX-12 Planer
|My new favorites for boards are from Church Tackle, which now makes
smaller, more manageable models that still track well away from the boat.
The TX-6, which is about the size of a deck of cards, is great for pulling
crankbaits or spinners with snap weights of up to one ounce.
Which brings us to my two favorite offerings in fall. While few people
fish spinners after summertime, the reliable crawler harness keeps working
through October and even into November. You can boost up a size or two
with your spinners in fall to tempt more big fish. If, for instance, you
were using No. 2 blades in summer, you now might want to try Nos. 4 and
5. The heavier thrum is often just what the walleyes want when they’re
starting to feed with gusto before winter.
And since baitfish, more than bugs, are the main course of fall walleyes,
try Northland’s holographic blades. They come in silver shiner, gold shiner,
golden perch and more colors to mimic baitfish.
By November, though, I normally start switching to crankbaits. You can
move them faster and cover more water (2.0 or 2.3 mph for cranks vs. 1.1
mph for crawlers), and since the fish are so keyed on baitfish, cranks
will often do the job even better. Experiment with cranks and crawlers
to find out. For the lures themselves, it’s hard to beat Rapala
Husky Jerks (in shallow and deep-running versions), Tail
Dancers and Shad
Raps. Again, match the colors to the prevalent baitfish and conditions—silvers
around shiners and shad, brighter fluorescents in darker or stained water.
You can trick out your lures with additional color with holoform tap from
WTP, formerly known as Witchcraft. Add a strip of silver or glow to the
lure’s sides, something that’s particularly effective at night.
|If, for instance, you were using No. 2 blades in summer, you now might
want to try Nos. 4 and 5. The heavier thrum is often just what the walleyes
want when they’re starting to feed with gusto before winter. And since
baitfish, more than bugs, are the main course of fall walleyes, try Northland’s
If the structure is particularly steep or difficult to follow, you
might want to try leadcore. I like it if I’m on a break that twists and
turns and I’d have too much line out with boards. Even in 45 feet of water,
you can often get down to the fish zone with 75 to 85 feet of line out
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