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Conquering New Waters
by Norb Wallock

Finding and catching walleyes on new waters can be a real challenge, especially with so much water and so little time.  So what can you do?  First of all, don’t despair, as there are proven shortcuts that can help put the odds in your favor, or at least give you a fighting chance. 
These “shortcuts” are techniques that have proven to be effective by touring Pros who are often faced with unfamiliar waters, that are immense in scope, and with a limited amount of time to get the job done.  To be successful they have to find fish fast, and have to do so under a wide range of conditions.

It’s been said that ten percent of the water holds ninety percent of the fish, making for a good rule of thumb. The challenge is finding the ten percent, or at least eliminating as much of the ninety percent as you can.  While you’re not likely to find all of the fish doing the same things at the same time, you will probably find a good deal of them doing the same things in similar areas.   

Understanding seasonal patterns and movements is the first shortcut to finding the coveted ten percent.  Seasonal movements include a shallow, to deep, to shallow migration that can occur over the course of the open water period.  

Factors that will alter typical movements and location are water clarity, forage types, and available cover, or lack there of.  Dark or stained water can restrict how deep walleyes may be found, and could completely eliminate the deep water option.   Extremely clear water conditions, on the other hand, may greatly reduce the amount of time walleyes can be expected to be found in shallow water.   Shallow movements may be limited to very early in the season, or during favorable weather conditions like periods of cloud cover and heavy winds, or after the sun goes down. 

  A forage base like smelt or alewives ( that spend a good deal of time suspended in open water ), attract schools of suspending walleyes, and may eliminate much of a system’s shallow and deep structure that would normally be expected to hold fish.  Considerations like seasonal movements, and the varying factors that make up a system, can help you to narrow down possible locations rather quickly.   The total sum may get you down to twenty percent or less, which is a lot closer to the “ten” than when you started.    

Ray Marine L 750 graph
Ray Marine L 750
The most effective method for finding fish, and eliminating deeper water, is the proper  use of good electronics.  With a high definition graph like the Ray Marine L 750 you can 
 quickly scan an area and have a good idea if anybody is home.    The Ray Marine L 750 has 320 vertical pixels, providing the definition you need to get a good picture of what lies below, like baitfish, structure, and most importantly, fish. 
The L755 is also a global positioning system with a chart plotter, which can be a big help in eliminating unproductive water.   The chart plotter will trace your steps, and help prevent you from retracing bad trolling runs. 

The next shortcut to the ten percent is using techniques that allow you to cover water quickly, and either find fish, or eliminate unproductive water.   The techniques employed should be those that you have a good deal of confidence in, and feel comfortable about their ability to produce, as it really isn’t the place to experiment.   If you want to experiment, a better time to do so would be after you have ol’ marble eyes nailed down, and can compare your results to proven techniques.  

Rapala Shad Rap One of the most effective fish finding methods employed by top touring Pros, involves trolling Shad Raps through potential hangouts, and rates high on the probability list.   The 
Shad Rap has proven itself over and over again, and has earned it’s reputation for being a solid producer.   
The Pros know that if there are any walleyes using an area, there’s a good chance that a Shad Rap will trip their triggers.  

Norb Wallock with a shortcut Walleye
The author Norb Wallock used a few search techniques to find this big walleye

Another top confidence pick is trolling spinner and live bait combinations, through all kinds of likely areas.  From rocky bars and reefs, to quick breaks, to transition lines, a trolled spinner gets noticed.  The spinner and live bait combination isn’t new, but it doesn’t have to be, it just has to work.  

When you do experience success, pay attention to details like what depth, speed, and type of bottom you were over, and then try to duplicate your efforts.  If you can do it over and over again, you have a pattern.  If you can’t, you’ll have to keep moving until you find something solid.  

Even when you employ all of the aforementioned techniques, success may not come immediately.  The key is sticking with it, and sucking up all of the information you can, including what you have discovered on your own.  By becoming a sponge forinformation, you can definitely shorten the time between hitting the water and tying into your first bunch of fish. 

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