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Trolling Those Early-Season Walleye


Springtime means blowing the dust off our gear and getting out to relieve that cabin fever from what, as of late, have become hard winters. This early-season fishing can be some of the best, but cool water also possesses some challenges.

As a full-time professional angler, I have learned that you better have these four things dialed in or you might just be in for a long day when trolling early-season walleyes on larger lakes:

Dialed In - Crankbaits dominate cool spring waters for many species other than the walleyes that I personally target. Having a crankbait out of tune will catch you as many fish as it will in the box. Additionally, they can “wander” and end up tangling the lures that are in working order. A Reef Runner tuning tool can make this task much easier and faster. 

Efficiency - Cold water means we are generally trolling very slowly and covering water to locate active fish. Going slow means fish don’t pull out from the spread and makes clearing rods an almost necessity to avoid frustrating tangles. Having extra rod holders means you can keep more lines in the water and actively fishing. Many anglers don’t realize that the type of rod holders you have can affect the way your lures run. This video explains why I prefer to run Bert’s Swivel Trees.  

Boat Control - This is the thing that separates the men from the boys. Being able to keep your boat in the place you want it and at the speed you want sounds easy until you throw in wind, current and non-courteous boaters. If you have a boat that can fit an electric trolling motor you might want to think about the advantage it offers year-round. Nearly the entire field in professional walleye tournaments have a Minn Kota Terrova on their bow for just that reason.  

Spread them Out - In the last decade, planerboards have gone from an unknown to a household name. Their ability to spread out lines allows us to run more presentations with less chance of tangles, and, at the same time, keep lures away from the boat to prevent them from spooking high-riding walleyes. A few tweaks to my Church TX-22 planerboards help me land even more spring walleyes. 

In all forms of fishing we tend to get preoccupied with fancy new lures and color patterns. When it comes down to it, we need to pay attention to the little things that really are the big things.


Capt. Ross Robertson

Early Season Live Bait Trout Rigging


Early spring trout fishing usually means bad weather, high water and sluggish fish. For that reason, when fishing live bait, I prefer to use a set-up that includes a ‘Lil Corky Float from Worden’s. These small, round floats are constructed of foam, with a durable, hard outer shell. They are available in a wide range of finishes. When placed just above the baited hook, the ‘Lil Corky helps to keep the bait in a natural drift just above the stream bed. This is important when the water is high and cold, and when trout are hugging the bottom - only moving inches within their feeding lanes.

The streams I fish in Pennsylvania are generally on the smaller side and can be difficult to navigate with a long rod. For this reason, I use an ultralight spinning rod in the 4’6” to 5’6” range. I recommend trying the St. Croix Trout Series or the Daiwa Spinmatic. I combo this with a small, 500-size ultralight reel, such as the Shimano Symetre FL or the 20-size Pflueger Trion. I spool up with 6.6 lb. test DAM Tectan Superior Monofilament Line. This line is the same diameter as 4 lb. test Berkley Trilene XL, which also works great.

To rig, I slide a 'Lil Corky Float in size 10 on the line in a bright color. I then tie on a Matzuo Model 140 Sickle Baitholder Hook in size 8 and slide the float to the hook eye. Then I place a Water Gremlin Removable Split Shot in size 3/0 about eight inches above the hook. With a half crawler, this is the set-up I start out with on opening day of trout season. The ‘Lil Corky keeps the bait just above the bottom and allows you to feel the “tic-tic” of the split shot bouncing along.

As weather and water conditions change, I will change the size of the split shot, ‘Lil Corky, hook and bait. If the water begins to clear and flow rates lower, I often change to a smaller size BB split shot and size 12 float. Try the ‘Lil Corky in more subtle colors as the water clears.

This rig works and will catch you more trout. As an added bonus, this set-up tends to hook trout in the corner of the mouth, allowing you to practice catch and release if desired.

It’s important to note that this rig might not be legal in your area or the stream you fish. Some states restrict the use of lead shot, some restrict the use of floats or beads in between the hook and weight or sinker. Be sure to check your local regulations.

FishUSA Staff,
Jay Prazer

Get Hooked on Thomas

For over 60 years, Thomas Lures has been producing quality lures for Trout, Pike, Walleye, Salmon, and Bass. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Thomas Lures owner, Peter Ridd, for the past three years. Once you have a conversation with Peter, you’ll quickly understand why Thomas Lures is so successful.

It’s well known that Pennsylvania has some of the best Trout fishing in the country. Thomas Lures is a staple product for all trout anglers, and thousands of Thomas lures will be cast into your local stream or lake on opening day. Not only is Thomas a recognized brand locally, but they are highly recognized outside of the Northeast region as well. It’s well known that California and Colorado are huge Trout states. FishUSA sells a significant amount of Thomas Buoyant Spoons in California, while the Thomas Colorado Spoons are a key product in Colorado (I think the name is very fitting for the region).

Whether you’re a novice or expert Trout angler, you should have Thomas Lures in your box. This product is made in Hawley, Pennsylvania, and all products are available for purchase at FishUSA.

 

Tight Lines,

Capt. Doug Straub

Achieving Different Actions with Your Lures


So many times I hear anglers say, “I need to buy lures that have a tighter wobble.” Or, “I need a lure that has a more erratic action.”

Since I was a child, I’ve always tinkered with lures to make them run exactly how I want. Sometimes I destroy the lure, but I gain valuable information that’s helped me in my professional fishing career. We all know why we need different lure actions for certain situations, but it’s not commonly known that we can achieve this by simply making minor changes to our baits.

The easiest way to change the action of your lure is to either remove a hook or add a larger hook. If you have a lure that has three hooks, like the Renosky Crystalina Shallow Diver, you can remove the front hook closest to the head of the bait to achieve a wider, more erratic action. If you are looking to achieve a tighter wobble, simply try adding larger hooks.

These little tricks don’t work with all baits as some are very sensitive to the number and size of hooks. But, give it a shot. You may find that you can have a number of lures built into one.


Tight Lines,

Capt. Doug Straub

FishUSA Staff

Sonar vs. Underwater Cameras



So you've found yourself “hooked” on ice fishing. Good for you. If you are well prepared and vigilant to conditions, ice fishing is a great family activity and fun way to put fresh fish on the table. Whether sitting on a bucket exposed to the elements, inside a homemade hut, manufactured flip-over, or ultra-portable pop-up hub, your tackle and gear options are great and varied. Like open water trolling, ice fishing demands the use of specialized equipment due to the harshness of the environment and behavior of the target fish. Safe ice and safety gear aside, nothing is more important to the modern ice angler than knowing if there are fish below your setup.

Unless you fish crystal clear, typically shallow waters, you just don't know what is under the ice without the use of electronics, specifically sonar and underwater cameras. When the itch to get serious about ice fishing add-ons takes over your financial thoughts, the argument turns to what technology is better? $300 - $600 is not a typical impulse purchase, so it's important to make the smartest purchase possible. You can always save for the option you don't choose, as long as you fill your most important needs first. Typically the big names in the game offer the best equipment in both performance and durability. The question remains the same. Camera or sonar? FishUSA.com is here to help More...



New Rapala Salmon & Steelhead Gear!

When fishermen hear the name Rapala, they think of original floaters, husky jerks, and jigging raps. Most anglers are unaware that Rapala also manufacturers an extensive line of fishing rods and reels.

FishUSA.com has always been a well known retailer in the salmon and steelhead market. This fall FishUSA will be offering a variety of spinning rods, casting rods, float roads, and center pin reels from Rapala. FishUSA.com is committed to offering anglers with the best gear at a low price, and it was a no brainer for us to offer these products for the salmon and steelhead community.

The FishUSA.com staff had the opportunity to “play” with the new Rapala rods and reels. We’re blown away with the quality and the features that are present on this gear, and we highly recommend these rods and reels to the novice angler or seasoned pro.

For more information regarding these products, please visit www.FishUSA.com or call us at 800.922.1219.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Doug Straub
FishUSA.com Staff

Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk Lures - Now Also Available in FishUSA.com Custom Colors!!!

With an oversized deep diving lip and wide-range of fish attracting colors, Rapala’s Down Deep Husky Jerk has become a favorite lure of the Great Lakes angler. The Deep Husky Jerk is hand-tuned and tank-tested to swim perfectly right out of the package and performs well when running fast and deep. The lures neutral buoyancy allows lure to suspend in the strike zone while the tuned internal rattle chamber creates a loud, rhythmic attraction. The premium black nickel VMC treble hooks are sticky sharp and durable, and will take the abuse of anything that swims.

Try the Down Deep Husky Jerk next time you are targeting big water walleye, salmon, trout, bass, and pike. FishUSA.com offers these lures in 8 natural colors, 7 glass finishes, and 5 FishUSA.com custom colors. These custom color schemes have been meticulously chosen by our own Great Lakes tournament anglers and charter captains. More...

Berkley Spooling Station

Congratulations to Robby Liming for winning the Berkley Spooling Station giveaway!

We have contacted you via email and will ship the prize as soon as you confirm your shipping address.

Stay subscribed for future giveaways!

-FishUSA.com staff-

Kayak Fishing


It is kayak fishing season! Well, it seems that way as summer starts and more anglers are starting to explore kayak fishing. Kayak fishing is great for adventurous anglers or for those who want to get out on the water, but cannot afford a larger boat. Kayaks give anglers the ability to access smaller and shallower fishing areas and to reach places that bigger boats or even shore anglers cannot reach. Plus, there's the added More...


Five Crappie Soft Plastics You Need To Try!

Summer is finally here! As the water heats up, crappie schools move to deeper water. Vertical presentations are ideal for pulling suspended slabs from their cool-water feeding zones, and when the schools of baitfish become impossible to net the savvy angler breaks out their squishy arsenal. Soft plastics can be tipped with meat (grubs, minnow heads, worms, etc.) or More...