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I’ve spent more time this summer fishing for walleye than I ever have before. It’s been really fun, and walleye fishing at Pigeon Lake has been on fire. Water clarity is still awesome with barely any algae and the temperature is right around 18 degrees. I’ve visited all the best structure around the lake and every place seemed to produce good fish numbers and sizes. Since haven’t targeted walleye so intently before I spent some time learning how to catch them. The two basic techniques I stuck with this summer were trolling with bottom bouncers and jigging.
I’ve been using my baitcaster with 30lb braid to troll bottom bouncers with 1oz and 2 oz weights. The medium weight rod may be a bit light for heavy bottom bouncers but since I have been fishing off the kayak and travelling at pretty slow speeds I haven’t had any fear of breaking the rod. I bought some off the shelf spinner rigs in fire tiger, gold and purple baitfish holographic colors and also some wacky looking Worden’s Spin-n-glo rigs. One of the first things I did when I brought the rigs home was re-tie the harness with 15lb fluorocarbon leader because I was worried I would get into some toothy Northern’s and lose the whole rig. I’ve used Maxima fluorocarbon leader in 15 and 20 lb as a leader for walleye and pike for years and have never lost a lure to even the biggest fish. Since I don’t usually use bait when I fish in the summer I bought some scented Impulse nightcrawlers and leeches made by Northland Tackle. I don’t use bait in the summer, not because it’s not effective – sometimes it’s the only thing the fish will eat, but because I don’t like to keep it in the kayak. Space is at a premium and I’ve spilled a container of minnows on my kayak when it’s 30 degrees outside; it is nasty.
I am starting to love Jigging Raps. I’ve stuck to size 7 for the most part and they’ve been working really well in darker colors such as black and gold. Rippin’ Raps have also been really effective but I prefer more gaudy colors like pink and purple. Both types of lures have to be fished more aggressively than I am used to and I find that you have to keep it moving and not let the walleye get a good look at it. Once you find the right spot and cadence it can be a pretty deadly technique, and made even more fun when done under a sonar so you can watch all the action.
As fun as Rippin Raps are my staple lure is still a jig and plastic. My favorite are 1/4oz VMC Moon Eye jigs and I use them most of the time. The biggest reason is that they have a big holographic eye that I find flashy, but they also glow and have a little hook to keep your plastics from sliding down the shank. There are many other jigs that have the same features, I just haven’t lost enough VMC’s to try others out.
When it comes to plastics I’m a sucker for the famous Puls-R Paddle Tail jigs. I bought a big bag of them a couple years ago and take them with me everywhere. More recently however, I started using scented Gulp! Alive! Minnows in 3” and 4” lengths and found them to be even more effective.
I was out a couple of weeks ago on well known spot at Pigeon and was doing really well with my standard plastics and Rapala’s. After a few minutes of this a boat pulled up within 20 yards of me, dropped anchor and started fishing. I could clearly see they were using frozen candle lake minnows on a jig head and to my dismay the four anglers in the boat were out-fishing me 3 or 4 to 1. That’s when I decided I would give some scented plastics a try. There are a lot of options on the market but after looking around I discovered the Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows are 100% biodegradable, so that any you lose will dissolve in the water in about nine months. Biodegradable is an awesome feature and really sealed the deal. Yes I know, frozen minnows are also biodegradable and Gulp! Alive! Minnows are more expensive than bait, but Gulp! will survive 3 or 4 catches and a couple of good snags; try doing that with a thawed out minnow.
I haven’t figured out why but the quality of summer fishing at Pigeon Lake has been a stark contrast from the winter. My regular fishing buddies will know my winter struggles so I encourage you to get out there while you can. With the incoming fall the fishing will only get better and you can bet I will be out there taking advantage of it!