W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Colin D. Crawford
Preparing for the Season
by Colin D. Crawford
Over the years tackle boxes have changed slowly with the advance of new tackle design. It seems that new tackle is out for a couple of years before the tackle box manufacturers design a box that will hold all the new and old designs in one box. For example, how long did it take tackle boxes to reflect that large musky baits should be stored vertically rather than horizontally? How long did it take them to figure out that plastic worms and grubs, when put in a box have tendency to melt and run together?
I am happy to say that most of the tackle box companies do reflect the needs of the anglers today. Tackle boxes come in all sizes and shapes for a variety of needs and provide function with stylish design. Plano and Flambeau products have come up with box designs that you can add more boxes to and take away others. When I am fishing for crappies I want to take maybe two boxes of jigs, but I surely don't want to take along all my crankbaits especially my musky ones. I then can slide out my box that has all the crankbaits and put in my box that has all the crappie jigs.
These smaller clear finished boxes make the identification of their contents easy and quick when you have to select in a hurry. They also make sense in the aspect that you don't have to have that old box like your dad's. You know the one I am talking about. It weighed about fifty pounds and when you opened it, it grew with length and different level so it took up the entire length of the floor between the seats. All the tackle that dad and you had purchased over the years was contain in that box. Some of the tackle was in need of repair, but it still had a place in the box next to all the other tackle that was housed there.
Getting ready for this fishing season spend some time going through your tackle box and maybe it is a good time to get a new box. Check all the compartments and remove all the lures and set them aside so you can wipe out the box itself and let it dry. Don't use chemicals or industrial cleans, a damp rag will clean up most of the plastic boxes that have been out there for over twenty years. Then inspect your baits and lures. Do they need to have new hooks put on them? How sharp are those hooks? Now is the time to touch them up with a file and get them sharp for the up coming season.
You might be surprised to discover an old candy bar that you put in there last August before you went on a trip and discover that it looks like someone sat on it and your favorite crankbait now has a sweet smell of dark chocolate. This is the time to discard those items that you know you will not need or use.
What happens with the weather between now and the opener will help me chose the lake where I might start , but the local weather on the opener will probably be a larger determining factor than anything. That's why I like an area like Phelps, WI. for early season fishing.
The water temperature is going to be the dictating factor in what the walleye will be doing in a given lake. If, for instance, a cold front hits just as the opener arrives I'll probably be on one of the shallower stained bodies of water in the area. If we get some nice stable weather I'll probably put the boat in one of the deeper, clearer bodies of water. I'll keep my options open.
What in the world am I going to tie on to start with? Well, a live bait rig is pretty hard to beat in these cold water times. Tip jigs with a small minnow, leech or a piece of crawler and get ready for some action. I would think that most of the fish that I catch on the opener will probably be from 6 to 15 feet deep during daytime, average conditions. A front might drive them deeper and cloud cover with some wind might allow them to go shallower. Keep an open mind.
Don't forget that right around the opener can be a great time for some night fishing. Typically those walleye will be pretty shallow for the night bite. I've taken fish out of water as shallow as a foot deep. My best presentation is usually a floating crankbait. Once I find an area that I feel should hold fish I'll back off from it and cast the crankbait. By casting, rather than trolling the crankbait, I can cover an area better and have less of a chance at spooking the fish.
I hope that you have as great an opener as I plan on having!! Catch fish or not, it's going to be just great to get out on some open water, wet a line, enjoy some good companionship, hopefully enjoy some nice weather, AND maybe catch a few fish.
Colin Crawford is a multi-specie angler from Phelps, Wisconsin. When on
the water look for the NPAA # 94 he will be right in the action of
Crappies and Walleyes this spring.
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