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Fishing Articles by Bob Riege
Rigging with Drift Control
by Ted Takasaki and Bob Riege
The edge of a specific structure is a great place to start looking for fall walleyes. These edges form breaks, which almost act like barriers to hold fish a little longer to feed before they move on. These are physical boundaries between shallow food producing areas and deep water areas of the lake. Here schools of active walleyes meet concentrations of food and often this is a prime fishing area.
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 use 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.
Rocks also attract fish, try rocky shorelines. Rock piles, humps or where rocks and weeds meet or are intermixed, work it over thoroughly with a jig or live bait presentation. Try to determine where fish are holding. Keep asking yourself the question what is their pattern? Drifting the breakline on a windy day is a way to catch trophy walleyes. The tackle is simple and the methods are easy to learn.
First, use jigs tipped with a crawler, leech or minnow. Terminal tackle for a live bait rig usually includes a walking sinker threaded onto the line on top of a barrel swivel . Keep the sinker weight as light as possible, yet heavy enough to let you feel the weight along the bottom. Usually 1/4 to 1/2 ounce sinkers should be adequate for shallow water fishing.
From the opposite end of the swivel run a 2 to 4 foot snell of 6 to 8 pound test monofilament. Adjust the distance of your live-bait rig from the bottom according to water clarity. In stained water the fish will be tight to the bottom so the rig should run closer to the bottom. Just the opposite frequently holds true in clear water.
I prefer to use the Lindy Rig in this case because it allows me the versatility of getting the live bait right in the face of suspended walleyes. A plain hook, or the new colored hooks are great, usually number 6 or number 8 finishes off the rig except for the bait.
The Lindy No-Snagg Sinker replaces traditional slip sinkers. I want to fish as vertically as possible and the Lindy No-Snagg on a 3-way swivel gives me the control that I desire. The ability to maintain bottom contact, sense of feel and interpret changes in bottom conditions is essential for success.
Lift and hold your sinker slightly off the bottom most of the time, keeping the bait near bottom and to feel the changes, such as transitions from rock to sand or mud. Deep fish like to lie along changes in bottom composition were the harder bottom of a dropoff joins the softer bottom of the basin. Pay particular attention to such changes along prominent points that gather walleyes.
This same technique can be applied to a vast majority of some of the biggest and toughest walleye waters around. For example, the No-Snagg Sinker can be used in heavy current like a river especially if you are concentrating on the rip rap. This slip sinker will work all day long around the massive boulders. The sinker will fall in between the crevices and cracks where the walleyes fighting the current are resting or waiting in ambush for their next meal. It works especially well on Western and Southern big reservoirs where you have rock shale or stump fields that were next to impossible to fish before.
To determine proper snell length, I keep a close eye on my Bottom Line sonar unit. If the fish are detected three feet off the bottom, try a snell length of 4 1/2 or 5 feet. If the fish are detected just a foot or so up, drop down to an 18 or 20 inch snell.
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 you 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. Using this in conjunction with the rigging methods
describe before and you will have a winning combination. Hope to see you
soon on the water!
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