MN Fishing Pros

The best rated & most experienced fishing guides on Lake Winnibigoshish and beyond

Grand Rapids, Deer River and surrounding areas

Fishing Pro Guides Bill Broberg, Jeff Skelley, Charlie Worrath, Jason Boser at L&M Supply

Boat Control and Walleyes

by fishing guide Jeff (Cubby) Skelly

Walleye fishing on Lake Winnibigoshish
Spring walleye and boat control

Have you ever been on the water and the fishing for you and your partners has been anything but productive? Yet every time you look around you see the constant action the other boats around you are having. So you start thinking, "what are we doing wrong?" You can see that most are using a jig and a minnow and drifting at the same speed you are, so what’s up? Well, chances are your boat control isn’t quite what it should be. Walleye fishing can so many times be a game of a few yards or feet that can make the difference.

In order to capitalize on the bounty that I know is there I keep a constant eye on my Lowrance depth finder. By cruising the area I know some fish are present in, I will look for little things on the lake's bottom. Little inside turns, pockets of weeds, baitfish and walleyes are all noted and punched into the memory of my Lowrance and its GPS plotter screen. This way when I am ready to start my drift and fish through these areas I can do so with ease by watching my depth and plotter screen and precisely work these areas over and pick off the active fish.

So often walleyes will be holding at a specific depth. In the spring look for active fish shallow; the harder the wind is blowing the shallower walleyes could be. Its been my experience over my twenty plus years of guiding, that walleyes will be found in 7 to 8 feet of water, but if the wind is blowing hard don’t forget the 5 to 6 foot range. In shallow water, boat control is as critical, as in the deeper water, if I catch a couple of walleyes in 6 foot of water I concentrate on keeping my boat right there in that 6 foot of water. So often tight boat control over a specific depth is the key, where 7 foot can be too deep and 5 foot too shallow.

There’s a myth out there that in the spring when water temperatures are 50 to 60 degrees you have to fish ultra slow. I personally think this kind of thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth. Good boat control has to include the correct boat speed and the key to success with speed is to let the fish tell you what they want. Yes, sometimes when walleyes are grouped tight in a small location, then you have to slow down to keep your bait where they are holding. But so often in the spring the Walleyes are scattered over a large flat of relatively shallow water feeding on the bounty of baitfish that are available. What I try to do in this situation is to fish a jig such as Northland 1\16 ounce Fireball Jig, and I will fish it fast and aggressively.

By fishing a jig and minnow in this manner I can fish and cover a lot of water fast. Finesse is not the key to success in this situation, I am simply trying to get the fish to react to my offering, giving them an easy target and meal. So many times I will see boats with their drift socks out and doing everything possible to slow thereir boat down. What I try to do is fish at a speed that allows me to stay just above the bottom and the weeds that might be present, again giving the walleyes a good look at my jig and an easy target. If you're fishing too slow and you're constantly having to reel up to clear the weeds off your jig, try speeding up your boat and get rid of those drift socks, or go down to a lighter jig. Keep an open mind and try some different things, and let the fish tell you what they want.

In conclusion, boat control is one very important part of fishing success. Boat speed and precise depth control are two of the elements that you have to have to enjoy catching fish instead of just fishing. If you catch a fish in 6 feet, stay in six feet and try different speeds. When you know you are into a school of walleyes and they will tell you what want, the rest is up to you. Good luck this year and remember be safe out there on the water. See you out there.


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Charlie Worrath on Jason Mitchell Outdoors talking early season walleyes

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