WALLEYE DONE SIMPLEYE: THE "KISS" PRINCIPLE
By Daniel Kiazyk
Despite enormous changes and developments in our knowledge about walleye, and our capacity to catch them, there are those situations where (keeping it simple stupid! -- KISS) actually works!
Imagine a larger lake in southeastern Manitoba, which has an incredible walleye population. The lake itself is almost featureless with a large island, with a narrow channel on its west end and out flowing rivers on its northeast corner; finally the boat launch (where tons of gravel were dumped -- to create the launch and approach-- into the lake creating a sand bar). The lake itself is almost devoid of any extraordinary features. It has a maximum depth of 7 feet with the average depth of the lake being 4 feet. The bottom is soft mud with considerable weed growth. The soft mud bottom also creates a perpetual turbidity with visibility of less than 6".
With this being the context a remarkable flip-flop is operative on this lake. Unlike most walleye angling situations were bigger boats, motors, more sophisticated electronics and the latest in lures, rigs, jigs, generally give an advantage to anglers, this is not generally the case in this specific lake. The PWT, MWT walleye outfitted boats with all the latest gadgetry are in the same league as the 14 foot car topper with the 7 hp outboard.
What's the lesson?
With no extraordinary structure other than the places mentioned, anyone can get to where the fish are at – although the 200 hp boats do get there faster. Given the turbidity of the water and its uniform shallow nature, a run and gun approach is not the most effective approach. Drifting does not really work as jigs, lindy rigs, bottom bouncers, or three way rigs foul almost immediately. Trolling and casting cranks does not work for they too foul regularly or they don't seem to get in the fish "zone". Even trying to move around slowly with a bait/jig just above the "weedage" with a trolling motor doesn't work all that well either!
"Lesson" an anchored boat in turbid water can be an effective approach to putting fish in a boat. The guys with the big boats and big horsepower really don't need it here! Staying still and presenting the bait with a stationary tactic 1) keeps the bait from fouling with debris 2) keeps the bait being presented longer in the water (and hence longer in proximity to the fish being sought!). Fish are also able to key in on any attracting qualities that you may be (or the bait itself might be doing the job for you!) imparting to the bait.
Given the stationary tactic required by the lake, tackle choices too gravitate to the obvious. Jigs do work, and are more effective when tipped with live bait; but herein lies the irony to our present hi-tech walleye world, the lowly "pickerel rig" shines head over heals above any other technique --- being even more effective than the jig. The approach forgotten and yes, looked down upon by many hi-tech anglers shines in these waters. Tipped with minnows live/frozen provides fish with targets (in some instances struggling – live minnows). Even if the anchored boat does move, the weight extended below the bottom hook (on a pickeral rig that is) picks up any debris, and leaves the bait free for fish to bite.
As we pulled up yet another "eye", the guy in the "ProV, Mr. Walleye, IPS hull said, "another one!" "Yup", was my answer, but I said it with a humility that is due someone fishing in a 14ft car topper with a 7.5 horse ubiquitous outboard. His comment did not reflect on his angling prowess, that I'm sure. However it did reflect upon a lack of flexibility and an ability to adapt to this specific context. My response to him (feeling a bit awkward doing so) was to say, "Try a pickerel rig or maybe a jig while anchored… that works here!". I believe he did catch on and saw that a change was necessary.
Putting together the puzzle to arrive at the whole picture of how to catch fish on any lake changes, season to season, location to location. There are some constants and some proven fish finding techniques but on some occasions our preconceived approaches have to be malleable. Adaptation and a willingness to swallow a bit of our ego goes a long way to becoming an even more successful angler. The KISS (Keep it simple stupid) principle does apply itself in some situations when angling (but as a principle it recognizes that it too is only a guideline!).