Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 21

I usually get a call or text by 4:31 a.m.

My good buddy, Bill, and I have a recent tradition of hitting local walleye holes on weekend mornings.

We take his boat at his camp and I bring coffee.

If I’m not there at 4:30 a.m., I hear about it. Our tradition involves beating every other angler to the best spots on pressured waterways. It works for both of us. We are both early birds and almost every day of the week we see the sun come up.

This puts us on a prime walleye fishing bite. The morning bite has also always been a favourite time to fish for both of us. Over the years, we have enjoyed good success on the lakes and rivers that harbour the marble eyed prizes we are after.

We don’t have a secret tactic. We almost exclusively fish bottom bouncers with crawler harnesses tipped with live bait, usually a leech or worm.

This fits the requirement for our level on the weekends. It’s just good, relaxing fishing and a fantastic way to end a week. We start shallow in weed beds in about five feet of water and gradually work our way out to 20 to 25 feet of water as the sun comes up. We keep our speed slow, usually around 1 mph or just under or over. When we find fish, we work the area over, sometimes going to jigs to pick up any stragglers from a school.

The method is standard fair in the walleye fishing world and anyone who has fished for them has almost certainly used bottom bouncing as a go-to technique. It works. It’s simple. It doesn’t get much better than that for fishing.

We listen to an outdoors show on the radio and typically wrap up our morning by 9:30 a.m. More times than not we have a live well splashing with a few chunky walleyes – a good breakfast for our families.

We like it. There’s no overthinking this type of fishing. You just go and have fun.

I like being on a lake when the sun rises. It might be my favourite aspect of the outdoors overall.

It’s also not that bad to troll around, looking or fish. It can pay off.

We were out in summer a few years ago. We were on the Spanish River. We were fishing in a convoy of boats going up and down this one particular stretch in the river that had a sharp bend on it. There were about 15 boats working this section. Everyone spaced out and did a pass, drifting down the river around the point and then starting up the motor and going back up to the top portion and starting the process all over again. Bill and I did about eight to 10 passes and failed to get a fish. We noticed other boats picking up the odd walleye here and there. We were told to slow drift minnows on jigs down the river bottom on the bend side by others we knew who were out there. It didn’t work for us.

We changed it up. We went to the bottom bouncers and, most importantly, we switched to the other side of the river where no one else was fishing.

We made our first pass and came across a 10-foot hump in 25-feet of water. We hit a double header of two nice walleyes that both surpassed the 20-inch mark. Every pass, we picked up another fish. We had our limit in no time.

This summer, take it easy and try a few mornings of slow trolling for walleye. It’s also deadly on pike, bass and catfish. The morning bite is one to not miss.