Pro Tips

No matter what body of water you are on, if you find humps, bumps, and sharp contour breaks, you are bound to find hungry walleyes. Understanding this simple principle is what allows us tournament professionals to compete on new bodies of water at the highest level. So how do we find these key pieces of structure? Modern mapping is the key.

Line counter reels make it a snap to determine how much line you’ve let out behind the boat when trolling. They’re a great help since, if you start catching fish on one rod that has a certain amount of line out, you can quickly set the other rods the same way, so all your lures are in the right zone.

Trolling crankbaits on river flats can be deadly for spring and fall walleyes. Look for flats in 6 to 15 feet of water off the main channel, or at any places where the river makes a bend.

Jigs are incredibly effective lures, but to be effective they need to be near the bottom. The more time you spend with your bait in the strike zone, the more fish you’re going to catch.

Fish Shallow For Spring Walleyes

In the spring when I’m fishing for spawning or post-spawn walleyes on big river systems like the Detroit River or Saginaw River, I often fish much shallower than the rest of the field. And when I say shallow, I mean in just three to five feet of water.

In early spring striped bass will seek out warmer water in creeks and shallow areas.

Finding striped bass in early spring is a matter of finding the right water temperature. Shallow water areas in the back of the largest creeks on the lake are always significantly warmer than the main body of the lake, and that’s where you want to focus your efforts.

High-visibility line is particularly useful in rivers, where obstacles make lure control critical.

A lot of times you can avoid the worst disaster a fisherman can have – colossal tangles – by using high-visibility line. Simply being able to keep your lines in sight lets you maintain better control and ensure your baits are tracking through the right areas, especially if you’re using boards or backtrolling. 

Here is a tip to keep your crawler harnesses close to the bottom when trolling over humps. Use the speed of your boat to make adjustments to the depth of your spinner. When you see the depth come up on the sonar, slowly kick up your speed.

When fishing crawler harnesses for open water walleye, sometimes the fish will bite very light or short strike your bait. In this case, free spool your reel instantly and feed some line back to the fish before setting the hook

Let the fish tell you what they want. Don't go out there on the water with one pattern in mind. Switch it up if what you are doing is not working. From tactics, speed, color and size. Don't be afraid to try something different.

When trolling for stripers try to make your lure runs just above the bottom- or even try to run it into structure. This is a great reaction strategy many anglers avoid.

When trolling for salmon and trout make sure to line yourself up with the current. Try trolling into the current then make slight changes in direction until you find a line that is working for you.

When you are trolling worm harness on any body of water, be sure to pack the biggest, baddest nitecrawlers you can find to trigger the bigger walleye in the lake.

When fishing with jigging spoons on lakes, rivers or reservoirs, It is a good idea to attach an 18" - 24" fluorocarbon leader to eliminate line twist as well as not spooking wary fish.

When trolling crankbaits and the bite is tough, try tipping the front treble with a piece of nightcrawler.

When fishing for walleyes in my River - if you don't hit one within 15 minutes - move on to the next spot

When catching walleyes on inland waters at a certain depth on the bottom, try sliding out over deeper water and fishing the same depth for larger suspended fish!

When trolling open water pay close attention to the top 10 feet of the water column.

When river fishing walleyes in the spring, as you drift down stream, use your Minn Kota to control your boat speed in order to help keep your jig vertical. You will catch more fish as you cover more water using this method.

When vertical jigging with soft plastics for walleye like Berkley Gulp. Try threading your Gulp minnow up onto the shank of the jig and then lip hook a second one just through the point of the hook. This is a deadly technique for jigging walleye!

When taking young kids fish have patience and bring a few toys, and plenty of snacks. Don't make them sit there and look at the rod when the fishing is slow. Keep them occupied. For example, when my daughter was 3 she played house with the crawlers.

One of my favorite ways to fish is to use dipseys and worm harnesses. Couple tips that will make you catch some hogs is to always use a black dipsey and use at least a 8-10 ft flouro carbon leader. This should help you catch more fish.

When open water trolling for suspended walleyes always set a line running high in the water column. Walleyes will often suspend in the top three feet. Fish this high in the water column will not show up on electronics; walleyes will spook out to the side of the boat, thus eluding the sonar. This makes using inline planer boards critical; the idea is that the fish spooking out to the side of the approaching boat swim right into the path of your baits.

When tolling crankbaits in cold water I like to use monofilament line so when a big fish hits it will absorb some of the shock.

While fishing for deeper water walleye be sure to utilize lead core / copper / snap weights to help achieve effective bait presentation depths (opens up bait options too).

Good bait is the key to catching big summer stripers.

Where I live in Tennessee we are blessed with an abundant baitfish population. Throughout most of the season, it’s easy to catch enough gizzard or threadfin shad for a full day’s fishing in very short order using a cast net.

Fishing multiple rods at multiple depths allows you to cover water and locate striped bass quickly.

Adding a small fly hook to a Slow Death rig will lead to more hookups.

Slow Death rigs are effective, but many anglers complain they start to lose fish due to weakening hooks after a few catches. I like to modify my rigs by tying a small  #12 fly hook right above the main hook on my rig. The bottom of the fly hook should dangle right above the eyelet of your slow death hook.

Taking the time to learn a body of water pays dividends when thepressure is on – like when fishing a tournament, or filming a TV show.

When fishing a new body of water for the first time I always spend the first half or whole day without even wetting a line.

Using your strengths can give you an advantage when fishing new water, whether it’s for a family vacation or a big money tournament.

Whether you’re fishing a tournament or away for a family vacation, fishing new water can always be a bit of a challenge. That’s when it’s a good idea to stick to your strengths, at least until you begin to get the lay of the lake and learn more about the fishery.

Fishing deep can produce big fish!

If there’s one mistake that many anglers make, it’s being afraid to go deep. When fishing for walleye, whether it’s in a tournament or just for fun, I’ll often experiment with lead core, copper wire, or snap weights to get my baits down where the big fish are. Many times this has resulted in great catches, while similar baits fished shallower wouldn’t draw a bite.

Checking lines for debris is essential; any time you’re trolling,whether you’re fishing close to weeds or not.

I always make a point of checking my bait frequently while trolling. It is amazing how many times the line can pick up a little bit of debris that spoils the lure’saction. If you don’t check, you could troll for hours with a fouled bait and not even know.

Whether fished off a planer board or a flatline, resettable diving weights make it fast and easy to find active walleye in open water.

Take your cues from the fish – if they’re not responding to whatyou’re doing, try something else. 

It’s always important to listen to the fish, and let them tell you what they want on a given day.

Don’t blindly stick to one pattern if it isn’t working. Switch things up and try different colors, speeds, sizes or lures. If you begin fishing with fast-moving lures and you’re not drawing any strikes, slow down, go to something more subtle, and perhaps try more subdued colors.

When using dodgers and flies for offshore salmon, leaders that are three times the length of the dodger are a good starting point.

Leader length can be critical when trolling for salmon with flashers or dodgers.

I like to start with a 3:1 ratio based on the size of the dodger I’m using. For example, if I’m fishing a fly behind an eight-inch dodger, then I’ll want my leader to be 24 inches long.  A 10-inch dodger would call for a 30-inch leader, while a smaller six-inch dodger would only need an 18-inch leader.

Creative driving can tell you if fish are in an active mood.

Spooling all your rods with identical line makes it easy to put all your baits into the strike zone when you find fish holding at a specific depth.

Getting your bait to the right depth is the key to catching suspended fish.

If you mark fish on your sonar suspended at exactly 11 feet, how do you knowyou’re putting your lure in front of them?

Trust your Depth Finder. It will tell you how deep the water is, the presents of weeds, how hard or soft the bottom is and most important it will tell you if there are fish present. Spend time reading the owner’s manual.

When trolling open water pay close attention to the top ten foot of the water column. 

One of my favorite ways to fish is to use dipseys and worm harnesses. Couple tips that will make you catch some hogs is to always use a black dipsey and use at least a 8-10 ft flouro carbon leader. This should help you catch more fish

When vertical jigging with soft plastics for walleye like Berkley Gulp. Try threading your Gulp minnow up onto the shank of the jig and then lip hook a second one just through the point of the hook. This can be a deadly technique for jigging walleye.

When you are fishing for walleye always remember to duplicate what is working until a pattern is established. Then you can start to change color, size or speed to see which combination will trigger the larger fish in the area.