Overview and Crank Baits
Any shallow running minnow bait. When you have cold water 36–40-degree water. They will only hit something that is running really slow. You need something that is quiet and not a bunch of action. After dark there are 2 options, lighted slip bobber and leach.
Second option: crank bait. Pull slow 1 mph. Fun is casting them. Get in shallow early. In water spots, you need to get the bait that gets where they are. If 6 ft of water you need to get down. Throw a 9 Berkeley Hit Stick. Turn the handle very slow. Many culverts are 18 in to 2 ft. Throw a high rider again slow. You should pause and twitch. Visualize a fish following the bait. If you just draw it in, why would I bite that. Need to try different style retrieve on the second and third cast to spot.
There is a myth that you can only catch fish with live bait. I was on Mille Lacs and nothing was hitting the live bait. It went flat, still and sunny. We had $500 of spottail shiners. I put on a rattle bait and within 7 minutes everyone in the boat had a rattle bait on.
I work my rod from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock. That is the trigger for rattle bait, Pur it up and let coast on tight line pur and let it fallout. The flick at the top is important.
Paddle Tails – one of my favorites. I have thousands of paddle tails. I knew we always used live bait. Once I started understanding my electronics I could sit over there and made 5 casts with a spot tail and got 5 fish. So, I wanted more action and tried a spotted tail. I was keeping up with live bait. There are times when paddle tails out fish live bait. Dirty water is an example.
Best size is 3.5 inches Berkley ripple shad. Kia tech easy shiner. Pulsar minnow. Need a soft bait that will move at slow speeds. New size of champ swimmer – 3.8 size. Anything I can cast and work like a jig and a minnow. Pull up, turn handle then let it drop. Just like working a live bait. Pull up, let it fall until you get bottom. ¼ oz jug on paddle tail.
Fishing on the Missouri river. Got a cold front. Ice on the boat launch in the morning. Did not catch anything inside the channel all morning. In the afternoon the water temp went from 35 to 37 degrees and became dirty. I changed to summer technique. Put on a three eight oz jig. Cast out, pull up and drop fast. Second cast got slammed. It blew me away. Walleyes don’t have a temp gauge. They are cold blooded. They don’t have a number that says cold. What they do sense is change. When the water temp went up 2 degrees they perked up and had to eat. As you see fish, if cold and slow is not working, mix in something that is more aggressive.
I am not a master. I drop the minnows. When I started it was always a Lindy Rig. Trying to drag a Lindy in 8 ft of water. Tried an eight oz jig and a spot tail. 8 lbs test and understanding the dive curve. If I could only use one bait it would be an 1/8 oz jig and spot tail. No way to catch fish faster on Mille Lacs.
If you are in a river and there is a 1 mph current. You need to cast 45% downstream. The lure will swing to the back of the boat. It will drop down as it goes to the back. If you cast straight the lure will never go deep.
When trolling I think of it the same way but instead of current, I am moving my boat forward at 1 mph. Cast back at a 45% angle downstream. The jig will fall as it moves behind the boat. It will get to a good depth. I use a mono line because it has less drag. The snap jig is not a snap at all. It is not a snap; it is a draw. It makes a swishing noise.