Outside Chance


Two easy techniques to limits of walleye

Next to panfish, walleye is the most sought-after fish in Michigan. I am fortunate to have fished with and be personal friends with 3 great guides/charter captains. Jigs and crawler harness rigs are the riggings of the trade for these three guides.

Ken Clark of Fishmas Charters stated that anglers give too much credit to what a walleye thinks. On the river you are moving at the speed of the river. Walleye need to make a decision quickly and your plastic tail or crawler is larger than a jig head, thus neither really care about the color of the jig head. Brian Buist, owner of (2 b caught charters) agrees with this.

Both agree that a heavier head is better than a lighter head, especially if the angler is not well polished. You need to maintain contact with the bottom and be 100% vertical when fishing a river. When fishing rivers like the Grand, the White, Muskegon or Kalamazoo, we go with a quarter ounce on the heavy end, a one eighth on the lighter side.

Ken Clark favors the 4 inch Fin S Fish Lunker City baits. Favorite color, mackerel. Once again, he uses 1 to 3 colors for much of the season. This is a minnow style bait and he will run a worm style bait.

“I use a 4 inch stinger hook that floats just behind the plastic tail,” said Clark. His reasoning: a walleye sucks in a bait and with the stinger free floating behind the plastic, short hits are vastly reduced. Folks, most guides will tell you that most of their landed fish are caught on the dainty stinger hook. Use them as often as possible when you are jigging walleye.

On any river system you are better off slipping with the current using your trolling motor than just drifting along. It might take you 15 minutes to master.

You need to point your trolling motor into the wind which might seem weird but it works. The key is maintaining the correct speed and direction so that you lure stays 100% vertical.

Switching locations, you will find guide Joe Testa pitching jigs to any new weed growth that he can find. Starting on opening day and running deep into the fall Joe will be found on Houghton Lake. He will venture from here but this is the home based lake for Joe.

Joe uses the jig heads from Old Fart Lures. In this case jig heads in the one eighth to quarter are used and the lighter the head, the better. I also really like the swim jig heads from Charlie Brewer. These heads were designed for the do-nothing technique back in the late 70’s. The jig head glides thru the water and is fortified with a large long shank hook.

Joe and I favor the Charlie Brewer Walleye grub around the weeds. The four inch walleye grub is a favorite with the glitters, blues, blacks and purples good color choices.

“Walleyes love weeds and are in them as soon as they start growing,” said Testa. If your lake has walleyes and it has cabbage weeds, you are in business.

“Weed fishing is good all season but the early part of the season is dynamite,” said Testa. Weeds that are 1 foot to 3 foot tall are easy to fish thru or over the tops. As the weeds get taller search out any openings or irregularities. A point, a log or a boulder in the weeds, a change from one type of weed to another are prime ambush locations. Where the weeds meet a drop-off or a deep tapering point are great summer spots.

If jigs are not number one then crawler harness rigs are. Once again, crawler rigs can be fished various ways and they are easy to master. Drift or trolled, they land walleye at all depths and throughout most of the season. Mitch Johnson, owner of Johnsons Great Outdoors on White Lake, said the crawler harness rigs are a bread and butter bait across the state.

“When folks tell me a certain color blade is working best I ask to see it,” said Clark. What he is looking for is the color of the back side of the blade.

Because a walleye will strike a harness rig from behind it stands to reason that the backside of the blade is what the fish will see the longest.

Blades come in a wide assortment of colors but many are not painted on the back side. We run a ton of unpainted blades, golds, silvers, coppers, hammered and non-hammered.

“I rinse off all of my crawlers and place the crawlers into a cooler with ice and water,” said Clark. Place the rinsed off crawlers into the cooler, add just enough water to cover them and then add the ice. They will stay good for days, plump up nice and keeps your boat clean.

These two lures will provide you with plenty of action, will not cost you an arm and a leg and work across the country. Both are easy to master and fun for the entire family.