Walleye in the Bullseye

Posted by MNAngler On July - 12 - 2012

After dinner, Ken, George, and I headed back out on the pontoon. With such success landing smallies, I decided it was time to try targeting a different species.

Given my recent fun with lindy rigs, I was anxious to try to land a nice walleye with a similar technique on Ken’s lake.

When I first started coming to the Gunflint, Ken always took me trolling. He seems most comfortable fishing this way. I thought I would get him back into his comfort zone by trolling for walleye. However, lindy rigging doesn’t fit well with trolling because it is most effective when you are drifting slowly. On the other hand, bottom bouncing can be an effective trolling technique as it allows a little faster movement.

The key to any walleye fishing is being at the bottom of the lake. As I’ve become more of a finesse fisherman, I’ve found that being able to feel the bottom with my lure gives me a measure of comfort that I’m in the right area.

I set up my bottom bouncing rig with a 3/8 weight as we headed out to walleye alley. But as I tried to keep contact with the bottom, I found that I couldn’t feel it. We were in Ken’s pontoon and I think its slowest speed was too fast to allow the light weight to stay down.

Mentioning this to Ken, he said he had some heavier bottom bouncers. At a full ounce, these looked like they would be too heavy, but I had little choice. I switched it up and now I could at least feel the bottom. I could feel it so well, in fact, that I felt like I was leaving a trail behind in the sandy bottom.

We started in the middle of walleye alley and trolled West. Ken was using a rattling Rapala and George was casting with a fluke. When we got to the end, we rounded a point and started heading down the lane toward the boat launch. We got as far as the narrow part with no action so we all pulled up and decided to head to the South side of Kloek Island.

We all went back to our respective fishing methods, but the only thing we landed was a short conversation with Ken’s cousin as we passed by his cabin.

Just minutes after the conversation ended, as we were going across the shore of the island just North of Kloek Island, I thought I felt the tell-tale double-tick of a walleye bite, but I also felt a thump, so I wasn’t absolutely sure. Before I gave myself a chance to doubt what I had felt, I let my rod go backward from me to keep the bait stationary relative to our trolling for about one second, then yanked. Fish on!

My gut was right. I landed a little walleye at 11″.

Species: Walleye
Size: 11″
Lure used: Bottom bouncing with leech

We trolled down about 1/3 of the way down Young’s Island when Ken wanted to motor around to look for fish. We found some in the middle of the lake at about 50 ft that we promised ourselves we would go after some day.

After driving around a bit, we ended up at Lindner Alley. The depth is much more significant there (40-50 ft vs. 15-20 at walleye alley), so the heavier weight would be more effective. We trolled back and forth a bit, but didn’t get any more action before the mosquitos started to have their dinner.

It wasn’t a great fishing night, but we were treated to a beautiful sunset. Plus, it was nice to land my second species for the week. It made me want to go after a Northern so I could land a species trifecta, which I don’t know if I’ve ever done before.

I was also encouraged that I was able to feel the light bite of a small ‘eye on such a heavy weight. It gave me hope that I could feel the bite of a bigger cousin later in the week.

Week tally: Smallmouth bass: 8, Walleye: 1

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