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Weighty Matters

This coming Memorial Day weekend, more walleyes will be caught from Nebraska reservoirs than will be caught most any other week of the year.  In fact, on some waters more walleyes will be caught this coming weekend than any other month.  We have years of angler survey data from several Nebraska reservoirs that demonstrate that is a fact.

The walleye spawn is over.  The fish have scattered, and they are feeding.  Oh sure, some cold, bad weather might slow that a bit (weather trumps everything), but it will not kill the bite.

Without a doubt, more walleyes are caught from Nebraska reservoirs on some type of live bait rig than any other presentation.  In fact, I have made the statement that more Nebraska walleyes have been caught on a bottom-bouncer, spinner and nightcrawler than any other bait.  Now, I would tell you those presentations likely are NOT the best presentations for big walleyes, but that is another topic for another blog.  For this one, let’s just say a lot of anglers are tying on bottom-bouncers, spinner rigs, hooking up ‘crawlers and covering water by either drifting or slow-trolling.  That is a great way to find the active, but scattered, walleyes in our reservoirs right now.

Bottom bouncers are one of the most popular weighting system for those spinner rigs and other live-bait presentations.  However, there are a lot of other options.  Depending on the situation, there are better options.  Use the right tool for the job!

Take a few minutes to watch this Target Walleye video to see what I am talking about.  Make sure you watch it to the end, there is a great tip there on how to employ a variety of weights in an efficient system!

If you fish walleyes, boat or not, there was something in that video you could use!

I have mentioned spinner rigs and nightcrawlers.  Have you ever wondered why those baits are so effective for walleyes?  What-in-the-world natural prey item looks like a spinner and nightcrawler?  None.  So, I would be so bold as to suggest that the walleyes do not necessarily bite those bites because of the nightcrawler.  Yes, some worms wash into waters naturally, and no doubt fish feast on them.  But, most of the time, walleyes prey on other fish.  The sharp teeth tell you that.  For sure walleyes do not see many natural nightcrawlers swimming around behind spinners.

So why do spinner rigs and ‘crawlers work, and work well?

Well, the spinner produces flash and vibration, and that attracts fish.  A walleye falls in behind the rig; then smells the ‘crawler.  It smells good, they speed up to grab a bite. . . . FISH ON!

I said all of that to say this, do not get hung up on the ‘crawlers.  You may know that other baits, leeches or minnows will work just as well and sometimes even better on a spinner rig.  Also consider that you may not need a whole ‘crawler trailing behind.  In fact, a half ‘crawler may work just as well and more closely match the size of the natural prey.  Or, forget the live bait altogether!  There are a number of GULP! or PowerBait or similar baits that will provide the scent and may work just as well or even better.

Hope you get out to experience some good fishing this weekend.  Absolutely keep some small- to medium-size walleyes for a meal of fresh fish.  Make sure you know the regulations.  Take a picture of the big ones and let ’em loose!

JohnsonWalleyeCrop

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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