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Fishing Articles by Colin D. Crawford

The Board Game
by Colin D. Crawford

With the advancement in electronic games many people have lost sight of the old fashion board games. I can remember growing up playing checkers, chess, and a host of board games with friends. Today, I am also playing a new form of board game and that is with the advent of not only electronics, but specifically my depthfinder, I have found that playing with in-line planer boards, is the board game for me.

Planer boards clip onto line via simple friction releases, sending lines out to the sides of the boat while trolling. When a fish strikes, bobbing or dragging the board backward, reel in, detach the board release with a quick twist of thumb and forefinger, drop the board in the boat, and fight the fish unhindered by excess hardware.

One of the very first places I look and concentrate my efforts is on the flats. Flats are the least interesting types of structure in a lake. There are no breaks, holes, edges, and just flat bottom. But seemingly featureless flats hold most of the active walleyes during most yearly periods.

It's easy to identify productive flats. Some prime flats drop off steeply into the deepest areas of the lake. Walleyes that use flats typically move shallower at night to feed on a variety of prey species. Baitfish such as ciscoes and shad move shallower at dusk. The depth of a good flat can very from only a few feet to over 20, depending upon the lake and the season. Flats with a fairly soft or sandy bottom carpeted with low weeds, with patches of coontail or cabbage rising above the carpet, attract walleyes.

Submerged weeds develop as the water warms in the summer. Weedy flats hold baitfish that attract walleyes at night. Walleyes can feed in dim light. They have a feeding advantage over most prey species after dark.

Active walleyes hold above dense weeds, rock, or other cover; but they also roam more freely during the day. Don't neglect areas with sparse cover that walleyes rarely visit during the day. Just because there may appear to be no cover, does not mean that walleyes are not roaming over the flats. Keep a constant eye on your depthfinder to watch for any fish suspended. Because, on flats, large walleyes feed in a variety of the depths, from just a few feet to the deep outer edges of the flat. Depending upon what's available to eat, walleyes may be on the bottom, suspended at mid-depths, or even at the surface gobbling mayflies or shad.

The character of the flat and the season determines fish staging. If the flat is large with broad contours, trolling usually is best. In-line boards are the most cost effective method of increasing trolling coverage you can buy. Off Shore Side Planer boards are an ideal way to spread out individual lines away from the boat. One method I start with is using a Ripstick lure on the outside board where the flat is deeper. Then, on the inside I will use a Little Ripper that doesnít dive as deep as the Ripstick, but covers a different column of water. Colors are something that you will have to experiment with yourself, my preference is chartreuse or the threadfin shad colors. Again, match your color selection with the type of bait that is present in your situation. I prefer to use black or dark baits at night. On bright moonlit nights in clear water, however silvery patterns often out produce dark ones. Of course, don't hesitate to use bright yellows and blues to catch walleyes at night. It seems that, as soon as you have them figured out it is time to change to a completely different color.

Once a productive combination is identified, switch over other lines to present as may baits in the strike zone as possible. As you slowly troll through the schools of fish on the flats, occasionally take your motor out of gear for a few moments. This will allow the crankbait to start an upward movement as if the minnow is feeding, and when you start forward again it pulls it down as if the minnow were trying to escape. Walleyes canít resist this stop and go action.

Next time you are out fishing an open flat remember this board game and I am sure you will find it will keep your interest. Also, if you are interested in a guided trip, a personal media interview, or photo shoot, please call 715-545-8347. I am located in Phelps, Wisconsin area, close to several fishing lakes. See you on the water this season. Remember NPAA #94. I Hope to hear from you soon.

This Fishing Article is brought to you by Colin D. Crawford

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