W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Sam Anderson
Top Walleye Pros Use Drift Control Presentation
By Sam Anderson
Proper control of your boat will help you succeed in catching more fish rather than having to continue to correct for wind and current. I use Drift Control Sea Anchors and I have asked a few others to comment along with me on how we use these devices in a variety of fishing situations. I have asked, Ross Grothe, Mark Brumbaugh, Mike Gofron and Ted Takasaki to tell you the specifics and the use of Drift Control Sea Anchors.
One way that I have solved the problem with boat control is by using a Sea Anchor. A Sea Anchor is a cone-shaped under water wind sock, similar to those at airports that detect changes in wind direction. Drift Control Sea Anchors aid boat control in two ways. First of all, they slow your drift in strong winds. Secondly, you can use them to fine-tune subtle boat maneuvers in rough seas or heavy current.
Most anglers who fish large expansive lakes or rivers carry a Sea Anchor with them daily. The rule is usually one Sea Anchor is adequate for most boats and conditions. But, if you have a large boat and the Sea Anchor isn't doing it's job you may need a large one off the front cleat and a smaller one at the stern.
When fishing alone in a console boat in heavy winds, I troll headlong into the wind with a Sea Anchor tied at the bow of the boat. By letting out about 8 feet of rope, the bag trails next to the console. I can yank it out of the water with a safety cord if I need to without getting out of my seat and I never lose control of the boat.
That works well if you want to slow down your presentation, but control is still very important and you have to be able to control your presentation if you want the fish to bite. One way that I approach control is by tying a Sea Anchor at the bow of the boat and then backtrolling along a contour depth. By tying a Drift Control Sea Anchor at the bow of the boat it will hold the bow down and reduces splashing for backtrolling into the wind. This control will even allow me to swim a 1/16 ounce Fuzzy Grub over the rocks and keep my boat pointed in the direction I want to go, rather than the way the wind wants to push me.
Although there are several advantages to casting over trolling, don't think that casting is more effective than trolling. I still troll more than cast. But casting is a very effective method of presenting a bait to walleyes in some situations. Using your boat as a tool to improve not only casting, but also jigging and rigging in the spring can also put you more in control. Remember, to become a versatile walleye fisherman, it is important to be able to adapt to changing conditions.
Walleyes in the wind is not a subject that you read about everyday. Most fishermen probably won't go out on windy days because they can't control their boats or they can't feel the jig on the bottom. A windy day can and does produce walleyes and sometimes the best walleye fishing comes when it is windy.
Wind also has an effect on light penetration. The wind creates waves, and waves cut down on light penetration. That's why you'll find walleyes on a shallow reef on a bright day if it's windy. Take the same reef on a bright day, calm day, and frequently it will be devoid of fish.
I generally start looking for walleyes on the wind-blown side of the lake, and the wind-blown side of a structure. Walleyes will usually be the most active on the side of the lake or reservoir that the wind is blowing into because that's where light penetration is reduced. On a given piece of structure the same will hold true with baitfish being disorientated because of wave action. This is a key area, because the predators will congregate at the outside edge and feed on the baitfish. However, keep in mind that a good walleye structure that is not windblown will still be better that a poor walleye structure that is not windblown. Walleyes are opportunistic fish and will go where the meal is the easiest to catch.
There are some wind directions that I prefer over others. It seems that north, northeast, and northwest winds can have detrimental effect on fishing success. They usually indicate a coming change in weather. Winds coming from the northwest are a good indication that a cold front is pushing across your favorite fishing hole. In the spring and fall this usually turns the fish off and the bite is very slow.
Winds from the south or southwest are frequently good fishing winds. They bring warmer air, which can be a good deal in the spring and fall. They are commonly known indicators of stable weather conditions. As I mentioned before boat control is always a problem in the wind. With a little practice and a drift sock you can control your boat even on the toughest structure.
Backtrolling downwind is also possible and necessary on some days, when you don't want your boat to rock so much in waves. This reduces the jigging action of your bait, and at times, walleyes are turned off by too much vertical action. The Tournament Series Drift Control Sea Anchor acts like a big tail. You get excellent boat control by going with the wind and easing the throttle in and out of gear.
When fishing a windy, unprotected point, one option is to deploy two Sea Anchors and drift the tip. But a better option might be to use only one bag off the bow and backtroll into the wind to cover both the tip and each inside turn. Be sure to tie the bag on the bow eye, not on a side cleat.
The position where you tie off is critical to control. You should experiment with your positioning of the Sea Anchor, and how it affects your boat, before launching out into gale force winds. Along with that, if you fish with a partner, you both should get used to fishing in and around a bag. If your partner doesn't reel in the bag when you have a tournament winning walleye on, it can be disastrous. Practice with the bag, as well as with the positioning of the tie off rope on your boat. Consider wind direction, but don't stay home just because the wind is blowing from the north. The wind is a tool you should use just like your rod, boat or you depthfinder. In conjunction with all these tools the wind can be useful, tool so you can experience more success.
Trolling is used in covering certain structures and precise trolling means catching fish. One way that I have solved the problem with boat control is by using a Drift Control Sea Anchor.
The rule is usually that one Drift Control Sea Anchor is adequate for most boats and conditions. Sometimes on Lake Erie when the wind is really stiff I will attach two Drift Control Sea Anchors, one to each cleat off the bow section both starboard and port. This will increase my control and allow me to run my engine at higher rpm's to combat the waves.
Walleye fisherman on Erie aren't the only ones using this method. Bass fishing has virtually exploded over the last few years. In the early season it is not uncommon to find smallmouth bass in good numbers along the rock, and shale reefs of the islands that dot Lake Erie. Boat control is as essential when fishing for bass as it is for walleyes. As many anglers know, fish are usually most active near the windblown shore, but probably presenting a bait to them can prove a trial.
Anchoring limits you to a single spot when the fish may be someplace else or spread along the breakline, and short wind drifts have you motoring, casting and reeling most of the time. Bass anglers therefore, want to slow down their presentation and not be blown off breaklines.
Here again the Drift Control Sea Anchor is used. By tying off two Drift Control Sea Anchors to the windward side of the boat the boat drifts perpendicular to the contour or breakline. Occasionally the bow mount trolling motor will correct the drift or in some circumstances the kicker motor will have to be nudged into gear to compensate for gusty winds.
Contour trolling is something that I really enjoy. Contour trolling will allow you to present your bait right in front of the walleyes nose. In cold front conditions this is essential. What you're trying to do is stay on a particular depth, or contour, where it looks like the walleyes are holding.
To really slow down and follow the contours I use the Drift Control Sea Anchor tied off the bow or starboard side of the boat. This acts like a brake and if I have to keep the rpm's up a little on my kicker or big motor it still gives me control to make an inside curve or to allow the lure to track evenly behind the boat on the contour.
If I want to jig a productive area for walleyes the Drift Control Sea Anchor comes in handy here also. It gives me control over the stern of my boat so I can fish a given contour perpendicularly. By attaching the Drift Control to the stern cleat adjacent to the current it gives me a brake that slows down the drift of the back end of my boat and I can correct the angle with the bow mount trolling motor. I can also attach another one to the same side of boat in the bow giving me more drag and a slower presentation when I vertically jig this contour.
By fishing the edges of weeds, drop-offs and structure like rocks, you will increase your chances of finding a funnel point where fish concentrate. These spots vary but are based on factors like: water temperature, availability of baitfish, oxygen, light level, structure and schooling tendencies. Success rests with proper presentation. Once you have located the edge and fish, the next step is to entice them to bite. Your bait presentation will depend upon the specific edge that you have selected. If the walleyes are directly below and concentrated on a physical edge you can backtroll a livebait rig, jig, or a bottom bouncer rig, keeping the bait among the fish you see on the depthfinder. If you find the fish strung out along the edge, keep the bait moving and they will bite. If they're clumped up in one spot, hover over them and vertically jig them.
As I mentioned previously the success of rigging is determined on your presentation. Boat control becomes part of your presentation when you are rigging especially in windy conditions. If the edges of structure is where I want to fish then a Drift Control Sea Anchor helps me stay on the edges of this structure. I operate my Ranger 620 from the bow with my Minnkota Maxxum bow-mount motor. If I am following an inside turn, or sitting on top of a break line I can maneuver my boat by using the drag that I receive from the Drift Control Sea Anchor. The Drift Control will allow me to make subtle changes and I will not over steer my position.
To keep in contact with the specific structure I will deploy the Sea Anchor off the stern of my Ranger boat. It gives the stern that added control in windy and wavy conditions. Usually, I will tie the Drift Control Sea Anchor off short so it will not interfere with fishing lines or the netting of the fish, but still give me the added control of staying on structure.
If you are a backtroller and you want the same type of control rigging, then you will want to tie the Drift Control Sea Anchor off the bow of the boat. It will prevent the bow from swinging in the wind and keep you on the specific structure. Try this method when you are using spinners along a breakline and you will see that you are fishing more than steering.
I prefer the Drift Control Sea Anchor over all the other drift socks on the market today, because of the ease of deployment and the compact method of storage. Use this in conjunction with the rigging methods described before and you will have a winning combination. Hope to see you soon on the water!
As you can plainly see these top walleye pros use the Drift Control Sea
Anchor for their presentations. I think if you try these techniques you
will see a remarkable difference in your catch ratio. I would also like
to hear from you concerning these applications or if you want to drop me
a line and tell me where you are catching the big one. I can be reached
on the web at www.samanderson.com
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Since August 1, 1998