June 23, 2014 Share

Walleye Where You Don’t Expect Them

Originally Published on Jun 23, 2011 “From the Docks” NBC Sports

Friday night I spent a couple hours chasing walleye on a busy metro lake near my home. In short, fishing didn’t meet expectations…we landed just one, and a few perch, while jigging classic walleye structure—hard bottomed points that have produced for me several times over the years.

Putting gear away that night I wondered what was going wrong. I had fished the same spots a few nights earlier and experienced about the same luck—three small fish on jigs and zero bites trolling cranks after dark.

The lake I was on is infested with milfoil which grows so thick in spots that it can foul an outboard. Were the walleyes holding in the weeds?

I had hoped the answer was no, as I’m not a fan of fishing milfoil which, unlike cabbage and other weeds, are is not crispy and fouls hooks much more easily when snagged. But Sunday night found me and a friend armed with 1/16-ounce jigs on spinning rods and a bucket of fathead minnows.

My plan was to work the deep edge of the milfoil with jigs light enough to work the top and outside edge (about 7-9 feet) of the weeds, but not too heavy that we’d be snagging on every cast.

I caught the first walleye just 10 minutes into the evening, a short fish maybe 13 inches long that I threw back. In the next half hour we landed four more, including a couple of fatties running 16 inches. We also landed bass to 4 and 1/2 pounds, crappie, perch and a rouge 12-pound carp that fooled me for a couple minutes (thought it was a muskie!). And by night’s end we had landed 9 walleyes, four of which made the trip home with me.

I was ecstatic! To me the night represented an important breakthrough…I realized I was looking for walleyes in all the wrong places.