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Peak to Peak Walleyes 
by Norb Wallock

During the course of a season, situations occur that create peak angling opportunities, and are defined by intense action in easily identified areas. Unfortunately these periods are often short lived, and by the time you hear about it you’re probably too late. By all definitions, one of the season’s most productive peaks is at hand, and revolves around many of our nation’s rivers, and better yet; It’s not too late. 
The peak is created by walleyes that set out on an fall, upstream migration, where they stack up in areas beneath the many dams that can exist up and down our larger rivers. The other major ingredient of the “peak effect” is the fact that late season walleyes can be an aggressive lot, and chances are good that you you’ll find at least a few that are actively feeding at any given time. The scenario of active walleyes jammed into small, easy to find areas, tilts the odds heavily in the angler’s favor. While the area directly beneath a dam can certainly hold fish, it’s not the only place they may hiding out. Good areas that can hold plenty of fish, that are often overlooked, include secondary channels and wing 

Secondary channels can be every bit as good as main channels, but usually receive a lot less attention. The reason they get overlooked is probably because they are less obvious, and take a little more effort to find. The fact is, anglers tend to look for other anglers, and don’t always concentrate on the fish. Exploring a secondary channel may be a little lonely, as you may have it all to yourself, but don’t let that bother you. Exploration on your own may lead you to the mother load, ahead of, and away from all of the crowds. Productive secondary channels will have the same things going for them that the main channel does, like depth and current. Current is a must, if a secondary channel is going to have a chance at holding fish. Any amount of current will do, just as long as it’s present. Depth is a relative term, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a ten foot or deeper hole nearby. 
The amount of current will determine just exactly where the walleyes will set up. Heavy current will push them tight into current breaks, like in eddies behind points, and in front of and behind wing dams. When faced with light current, walleyes tend to be more spread out, and more areas will have to be checked.
Wing dams always have a chance at producing fish, but there are a few keys to finding the most productive ones. First off, you’ll need some current. A wing dam in a secondary channel with no current will hold few fish , if any. Secondly, the best wing dams are clean, and haven’t been silted in. Wing dams that have 
been filled in with silt and sand have little chance of being solid producers. On the other hand, wing dams that are clean with all of their rock and rip rap exposed, can hold plenty of fish, and are the type you’ll want to key on. 

How you approach a wing dam will depend on how much current is flowing over it. Usually by late fall and early winter, water levels will have fallen and current will be greatly reduced. Under these conditions walleyes will range more, and can be found fifty feet or more away from the wing dam. The first place to look is behind a wing dam, but don’t be afraid to work the flat immediately upstream of the structure. Walleyes will often stack up on the upstream side, and is an are that is often overlooked. The upstream flat can be worked a number of ways, including casting and dragging a jig and minnow. A 
variation of the customary jig and minnow is to replace the jig with a Jigging Rap. The Jigging Rap can trigger strikes, and is something river walleyes aren’t used to seeing. The technique involves a dead slow drift, where the Rap is dropped to the bottom, and swept up a foot or so, and dropped back to the bottom again. As it drops, follow the slack line down with the rod tip and 
concentrate on the line. As a fish takes the bait, many times the only indication you’ll get is a twitch, or stopin the line. If it stops before you think it hit the bottom, set the hook. The same thing goes for a line that twitches. Using a Jigging Rap in cold water is the same presentation that ice fisherman use, only you can do it on the move. Another great river presentation includes a three way set up, with a big heavy jig and a Rapala crank bait. The technique calls for jigs in the ounce to ounce and a half range, or more, and smaller floating Rapalas in the sizes seven to nine. The big jig is at the bottom of the rig, and is tied to a three way swivel with a two foot dropper, while the Rap is also tied to the three way with a short leader, maybe thirty inches in length. The Jig holds the whole works down, and as big as the jig may seem, it will still catch plenty of fish. The Rapala, on the other hand, will ride just off the bottom, and will undulate enticingly back and forth with slightest amount of movement. 
Depending on the amount of current, you can either troll upstream at a dead slow pace, or slowly slip downstream, lifting and dropping the jig ever so slightly as you go. Fish will come on either the jig or the Rap, and sometimes you’ll get them on both, all at the same time. The question then arises as to which one do you net first? The safe bet is to take the crank bait fish first, 
as all those hooks could get hung up on the net when you go for the jig fish. Either way, it’s a good problem to have. If you’re planning a trip for some “off season” walleye, it would be a good idea to wear heavy clothes, the same you’d wear for ice fishing, and bring along a small heater. A day on the water in December and January can get a little chilly, but definitely worth the effort. 

Norb Wallock

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