Winter got you down? Typically this is the time of the year that I start to get bored with the bite. Traffic on the lakes become almost unbearable, and it seems almost impossible to talk a walleye into biting. It's usually the time of the year that people start to get sluggish in their walleye fishing and a few panfish guru's are all that is left. I use to be this way too, not anymore!
There is literally something large to pursue and catch all year long. Just ask Phillip. He's the guy in the first picture holding the fish. He's a river rat you could say, and the more I fish with him, the more I want to become one myself. The river is simply where its at. This is almost a secret that I shouldn't even be posting, but I will because it is such a challenge that 99% of you won't even give it a try. Rivers are so unpredictable, challenging and frustrating that it takes a lot of patience to actually succeed. The end result if you do give it a try? Well it can be better than anything you ever imagined, and the rewards can be very very big.
Think of it this way. Our lakes are slowly losing their oxygen levels. Snow cover is depleting oxygen to the point that fish slow their metabolism to make due. They move around less as a result of this, and the end product is less active fish that feed less than we would like. Now think about this. Rivers are always flowing. Oxygen levels are always high and fish are always on the move. As spring approaches the big females are putting on the feedbag in preparation for the spawn. This means that the bigger fish are only going to start feeding more and more. Ten pound walleyes are not out of the question, and I've even heard of some pushing the scales over 12 and 13. True giants!
Last night Mike and I met up with Phillip to give it a shot. It took us all of about 15 minutes to land the first walleye. Not a giant, but too big to keep and an exciting start to our afternoon. Shortly after, Mike landed his first and the game was on. Before the sun set on our evening we landed several nice walleyes and kept a few to try in the pan. We didn't land any monsters on this particular evening, but from what I've seen in the past, I'm getting jazzed for the next several weeks before the season closes.
Here are some things to consider before you even think about fishing a river through the ice. First thing - safety. Always use caution when you head out on the ice. The ice is very unpredictable and only venture on areas that you know are safe. Secondly, you should know your waters before you head out. What you might think to be deep water could literally be the bottom and therefore your auger blades will be toast before you even make it through one hole. Trust me, I've seen it. You'll also want to be prepared with the appropriate lures. Current makes things a lot more interesting and your small little cute jigs will seriously drift into no man's land. Lastly, persistance is key. You may fish several days with nothing, but if you stick it out, you just might have to figure out how to stuff a football through an ice hole with flowing current below. It aint easy, but a good problem to have! There are several other things that can help your cause, but I'll keep that to myself for now and leave some of the challenge up to you. Good luck, Minnesota is full of rivers, get out and explore, I assure you that you won't be dissapointed. Until the next fat walleye strikes, keep on livin' the dream!