On a mid September morning I cast my large double 10 bucktail and it landed five feet from shore. As soon as I began my retrieve I saw the large back of a muskie break the water’s surface a couple of feet from where my lure had landed. I was pretty sure she was chasing my large spinner and as the lure approached the boat I saw the muskie right behind it. She bit the lure as I started the first turn of my figure eight and the water exploded!
That was the last fish for my old Abu Garcia 6500 C3 bait casting reel as this muskie was more than the old reel could handle. The reel doesn’t reel anymore.
This beautiful muskie was found in a “textbook” summer location in some rocks and weeds adjacent to a nice weed bed feeding area with deep water nearby.
I fish in Northwestern Ontario in waters that have a lot of Northern Pike. We sometimes think about pike as being just found in shallow water in the weeds but that is not the case. In summer months some of the bigger pike can be found cruising the same deep water humps as the walleye.
When pulling a walleye nightcrawler harness over one of these humps it is common for aggressive pike to attack the bait and their razor sharp teeth slices right through the thin fishing line usually used to make walley spinner harnesses. Not only do you lose your spinner and crawler but the poor pike is left with hooks lodged in its throat which may be a death sentence.
This year I started to make my harnesses using 40 pound test fluorocarbon fishing line. Fluorocarbon is virtually invisible under water so the extra line thickness does not act as a deterrent to walleye. I have not had a pike bite off a harness this year since I implemented this strategy.
Since the line is a bit thicker you will have to use larger hooks in order for the line to pass through the hook eyes twice when snelling the hooks. I find that if the line is cut cleanly it will just barely fit through a #2 Octopus hook. That is what I tend to use since I also like using the red hooks and can’t find #1 hooks in the red colour. I have made the harnesses with #1 hooks (not red) and it makes snelling the hooks easier – and really, the fish don’t seem to care that the hook is bigger and not red.
In this case, the red hooks may be just an angler preference and not a walleye preference but I like to give myself an edge just in case 🙂
I had great success targeting walleye in the 30 plus foot range all summer long but this past weekend the numbers were way down, the bigger fish were gone, and the fish that were there were disinterested for the most part. What happened to change the pattern? In hindsight the pattern change probably began at least a week ago when, as I wrote in my last article, the walleye could be found almost everywhere including in very shallow water close to shore.
As soon as I arrived on Friday evening I noticed that the water had quite a green tinge to it that wasn’t there the previous week. A serious algae bloom had occurred.
Numerous walleye pros have written that mid summer algae blooms, which reduce water clarity, cause walleye to move off deeper structure and into shallower water and/or to suspend in the water column. I was seeing both. I wasn’t marking walleye on the fish finder at the deeper levels but I was seeing them suspended at the 10 to 15 foot level adjacent to shallower structure. There were a few disinterested walleyes on the shallower structure as well but most were suspended.
I suspect that if I were to explore more I would have found then along weed edges in 8 to 10 feet of water as well. My main focus this past weekend wasn’t walleye however and after I caught enough for the weekend fish fry I was scouting out some muskie habitat around Minaki in Big Sand and Little Sand lakes.
If you notice an algae bloom in the water that you fish, be aware that this often can cause a change in the walleye pattern and you will have to adjust you tactics accordingly.
The August long weekend began with thunderstorms but as soon as they let up for a while on Saturday morning I was on the water and judging by the quick start I just knew it was going to be a great weekend!
The walleye seemed to be everywhere at every depth. I mostly fished 30+ feet deep but also caught walleye right off the dock close to the shore in just a few feet of water.
On Sunday, my brother-in-law Doug (the YouTube Star ) came out determined to master the art of bottom bouncing for Walleye. He was armed with his new bait casting outfit and had stopped on the way and purchased some worms and a spinner rig with a pink colorado blade. Within 15 minutes he had caught his limit of eaters and tried his hand at fileting his catch. He did great for a first timer. I would say he has mastered the art of both bottom bouncing and walleye fileting!
For the rest of Sunday and Monday morning we used 4 dozen nightcrawlers and 20 Gulp and TriggerX nightcrawlers and the walleye fishing was terrific even after the temperature had plummeted Sunday night. Where we fished was determined by our desire to avoid the worst of the brisk wind and the long weekend boat and fishing traffic. We had no trouble finding a spot the fit our criteria and that held lots of walleye.
I had intended on taking some videos but it became apparent that the wind was going to create issues with the sound and I also lost a few large fish while trying to turn the cameras on to record the catches. Recording the catches was relegated to the back burner. Below are a couple of the nicer ones that did get their picture took…
What is of special interest is that the largest fish were caught on Gulp nightcrawlers and not the real thing. Not only did the artificial bait catch the biggest fish but they would usually last long enough to catch two or three walleye where a real nightcrawler usually only catches one fish.
I used the Northland Slick Stick in place of my usual bottom bouncer weight several times under many different conditions. I like the way it “telegraphs” the bottom and it snags less than a conventional bottom bouncer weight as well. There are a couple of issues with this product however. Watch my review below to find out what they are…
When trolling or casting for muskies I often use a big hairy bucktail spinner with two large treble hooks. Here is a tip that will make your life easier as well as the fish’s!
When that big hairy bucktail is inhaled by a fish it can be very hard to remove. All that hair obscures the hooks and you can hardly even see the hooks much less remove them from the fish’s mouth.
With two large trebles let’s face it, that fish was not getting off. You don’t need the barbs on the hooks. Pinch them back or file them off before you ever use that big bucktail and you will release at lot more healthy fish and get your lure back in the water quicker allowing you to catch even more fish!
I do not fish where others are fishing. If I am fishing in a spot and you pull up near me and begin fishing I usually move somewhere else. This has allowed me to discover many new fishing spots over the years. During this busy past weekend I was fishing at one of my “go to” spots within site of 8 other boats all crowded around one of more popular walleye spots when I snagged the rope attached to this old anchor.
The rusty anchor had been down there a long time as when I pulled it up there was actually a chunk of rock rusted to it! What I found interesting was that there were no other lures attached to the long anchor rope. Over all of the years that rope and anchor had been sitting in the middle of this great fishing spot not one other person had ever snagged it before.
When looking at a map of this area this fishing spot almost jumps out at you as a place you just have to try. The fact that no one snagged this anchor before me just highlites how so very few people bother to fish spots except spots where they see other boats fishing.
On a scorching July evening I targeted walleye down deep using the Northland Slick Stick weight in place of a bottom bouncer and a spinner rig with nightcrawlers.
What exactly is “deep” water? It really depends on the body of water you are fishing. Most walleye fishing articles I have read start calling water deep at around 15 feet. I used to think that “really deep” water was 25 feet but where I do most of my fishing there are areas that are over 100 feet deep.
Since it is actually a large river there is always a bit of current even down deep. Because it is a river there is no thermocline and the fish can be at almost any level. I primarily look for structure and where I fish the structure is often between 25 and 45 feet. I now consider 50 feet to be “really deep” and seldom fish deeper just because there are fish survival issues when you bring a walleye up from that depth in summer. If you are fishing that deep you should be keeping what you catch to eat and not releasing the fish as they will not likely survive. When you catch your limit go fish shallow for pike, bass, and muskie or weed walleye. Those you can release.
For the most part in this video I was fishing 30 to 40 feet deep over rocks and the action was hot!
A good friend of mine, Dave Pratt, gave me this unique lure – the 200 MPH Crankbait – and assured me it would catch fish like crazy.
Watch the fun video for my review of this lure!
I had posted a link to this video on a couple of fishing forums that I participate in and that in itself was interesting. On one forum there ended up being a couple of pages of posts in the thread good naturedly discussing whether the video has real or faked. A link was even posted to where this lure could be purchased. On the other fishing forum there were as many thread views but zero replies. It was interesting to see the stark difference in the type of membership that frequented the forums.
Fishing for walleye using Trigger X Nightcrawlers for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised with how well they worked! I alternated between using a Northland Slick Stick as a bottom bouncer weight and using a three way rig depending on the current and wind conditions. The depth I was fishing was generally between 30 and 40 feet over a rocky bottom.
The day’s weather was very changeable and started off cloudy and ended up cloudy but was often sunny in between. This made for a bit of wind noise across the microphone at times but I felt that I had delayed putting up a new video for long enough so here it is anyway!