Outside Chance ...


Trusting and using your graph and a few good early spring lures

John Hoyer, the top walleye pro, this past year gave a presentation that I found riveting. The first half of his seminar was on locating fish and getting the most out of your graph. Finding the fish is the battle and the better at finding the fish you are the less you need to worry about the how.

“I use side scan nearly 100% of the time on the water,” said Hoyer. John will cruise at 3 to 5 mph using side scan looking for fish. He sets his Lowrance to the 455KHZ and a width of 100 feet. John suggested 100 feet per side with a 12 inch screen, 60 feet with a 9 inch screen.

John will set the contrast at -2 to -10 and the palate color on blue when wearing sunglasses. We tried the brown palate and it worked ok under low light conditions but the blue was superior with bright skies and with the shades on.

This past week we dissected Lake Macatawa. Having fished this lake hundreds of times I walked away amazed. We found rock piles, fallen trees, brush piles that someone had sunk, logs and other debris and structure. It was really cool actually seeing and feeling, verifying what side scan had to show.

John stated that the slower the speed you go the larger the shadows. We tried running at 3 mph and at 1 mph and found better resolution at the slower speeds. You can see the ripples on the sand bottom and the change from hard sand to a soft bottom.

John suggested using down scan to verify what you are seeing and compare that to your traditional 2-D. You really need to try this. It was impressive. John suggested monitoring a weed bed. Go early in the season and see what a 1-2 foot weed growth looks like and come back in a few weeks and see the difference at 4 to 6 feet of height.

John likes dropping a way point on something as he motors at a faster speed and then coming back and examining the spot. Simple move your cursor over the target and hit a waypoint. You can do this at high speed.

As you motor across a body of water remember that the top of the screen is what you see first. As it moves down it becomes history. Thus, you can easily drop a way point or move the cursor over something you see on the graph. We tried this and found it very simple.

John likes weeds. His thought is that weeds have fish most of the year. With side scan you can actually see into the weeds, spot rocks, openings and fish. John also suggested downloading the Navionics app. This app has been a part of my fishing for years. Last time I checked it cost ten bucks.

Besides weeds, John looks for rocks, change in the bottom from mud to sand, rock to mud and such. “Points are one of my favorite locations,” said Hoyer. He likes points that are receiving the wind and might have a few weeds or rocks on it. He suggested positioning your boat so that you can fish the back side of the current breaks.

Fishing rivers, John suggested searching out current breaks such as areas with a high bank, bridges, areas receiving slightly less wind due to trees, etc. He also said look for areas where the wind might be pushing and stacking up bait fish. 

John stated that on windy days a controlled drift might be the ticket. Using drift socks will slow the boat down and can be used in setting a drift course. Another tip was move faster when the bite is on; slow down when the bite is tough.

John also likes baits that have one or more of the following: rattles, vibration or flash. Color as a rule is not high on his list as compared to the other factors. He likes changing up his cadence, add a few pauses or stops, maybe giver the lure or jig a hard pop. Some baits it might pay to let it fall to the bottom. 

Mix it up he suggested. One other suggestion he shared, water temperature. A few degrees can make a big difference in the spring.

Our go to walleye lures include the Charlie Brewer Bass/walleye grubs in the river and weeds. The Flatfish tipped with a crawler or the Mag Lip 2.5 crankbaits. Both are along the banana bait shape that we love and hair jigs in the river. The Perch Pounders are a staple on early season perch!


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