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Rockin’ Walleyes with Heavy Metal
by Ron Anlauf

When the going gets tough the tough get spooning, and when the going is easy they still do the same. The fact is when top notch walleye anglers are on the ice they are almost always working a spoon. That doesn’t mean they won’t use a tip-up or a bobber rig because they will, it’s just that they know spoons can attract and catch fish, period. A jigging spoon in the right hands can be downright deadly, and anybody can learn to use the technique. Team Crestliner member John Janousek of Nisswa, Minnesota hits the ice hard for heavy duty walleyes and is never, ever, without a jigging rod; “I always use a spoon. It’s just a fun way to fish and it works. Most of the time I’ll use it in combination with a bobber rig and try to stay close so that the fish that are attracted to the spoon also get a look at the minnow and bobber rig.” To get good at spooning, really good, you have to be committed to mastering the technique and not give up if success doesn’t come right away. If success comes quickly it certainly makes it easier but it might not, so stick with it. And success doesn’t always mean putting fish on the ice, it could mean coming up empty at times. Coming up empty can help eliminate water and narrow down your search when looking for fish, which will allow you concentrate the rest of your time right where you need to be. Spoons are natural attractors, with all of their flash and vibration they can get the attention of fish a long way off and bring them in for at least a look. Regardless of whether you hook up or not you can use the spoon along with a depth finder like the Marcum LX-5 to find out if there any fish using an area, and what kind of mood they happen to be in. If you’re seeing fish right away and they’re scarfing up the spoon there’s no adjustment needed. It’s when you’re seeing and not getting bit when you have to start experimenting to find out what the key is that finally trips their trigger. What you’re trying to accomplish with the spoon is create a presentation that resembles an injured or dying minnow or baitfish, a.k.a. an easy meal. Walleyes are not above cashing in on easy pickings, and why spoons are so productive. The basic technique includes dropping the lure to the bottom and reeling up the slack so the bait suspends just off the bottom, and then giving it a quick snap up with the rod tip and the letting it free fall back while following the slack line to the starting position. From there you can give it another snap or maybe wait a few seconds, especially if you’ve got an onlooker. As you watch the screen fish will probably come and go unless you can come up with a pattern that they start falling for. Sometimes it’s the snap and drop, but more often it might be the snap drop and hold that gets them to go. Or it could be the snap, drop, hold, and maybe a tiny bump up followed by a hold. Another method that often works is to try and get them to follow the bait up higher and higher, well off the bottom. If you can get them to follow four, five, and six feet off the bottom there’s a good chance they’ll take the bait. When you do lift the bait up you better have some head room if you’re inside to allow yourself to set the hook. My new Eskimo Profish 350 has more room than any other house I’ve ever used and is perfect for spooning as well as combining it with other methods like using dead rods or set lines with floats. It stands tall and also gives me plenty of room up front which allows for multiple holes.If you’re seeing fish but they’re running for cover as soon as you snap the bait you may have to back off a bit and use more subtle strokes. On the other hand you might be dealing with small fish, and that can be a problem if you don’t realize what’s going on. With the three color Marcum LX-5 you can actually get a good idea of the size of the fish by the color of the mark. Baitfish and minnows will show up as green or maybe yellow, while larger fish will show up as red. The size of the walleye is determined by the thickness of the red mark and the thicker the better. Watching a thick red line come in for a look is when things can get pretty exciting and keep you on the edge of you seat. Another advantage to the LX-5 is the fact that it does a superior job of revealing fish holding tight to the bottom as it has excellent target separation. What it means is that you’ll see fish that would have otherwise been missed. If you can’t see them you can’t react to them and see how they react to your bait

Ron Anlauf used a hardcore spooning trick to call in this nice walleye

Ron Anlauf used a hardcore spooning trick to call in this nice walleye

There’s a couple of different basic styles including the heavy spoons and the lighter thin metal flutter spoons. Heavier lures like the Northland Tackle Buck-shot Rattle Spoon get down the hole quickly and are my go to bait and a steady producer all season long. Lighter spoons like the Fire-Eye Minnow have a softer action and have a much slower drop and can make a difference when the fish are a little off, like later in the season or after a cold front. When you’re just looking for fish it’s hard to beat a heavier spoon, especially one with a rattle. The Buck-shot attracts fish just about everyway possible, which makes it a terrific search lure. In almost ever situation you’ll have to tip the spoon with some meat, like a small minnow or part of a larger one. The meat is there to give the bait some scent and taste and you really don’t want to overpower your lure and kill the action with a minnow that’s too big. Good spoon rods have stiffer tips that allow you to actually snap the bait instead of just pulling it and that means medium or medium heavy actions. My personal favorite is a thirty-six inch medium action baitcasting rod that’s loaded with eight pound test green Silver Thread. You can use spinning gear but you it’s hard to beat the feel of a baitcaster in your hand.

Braided lines can be a big plus when you start spooning deeper water, like thirty feet or more. The braids have virtually no stretch and you can get much better hooks sets than using monofilament, but you can overdue it and rip hooks loose if your not careful. You also better be quick to loosen the drag on a big fish or you might break if off. Whether you’re using a braid or mono you’ll need a leader and a swivel tied in about two feet or so above the lure. You can use a piece of mono or maybe fluorocarbon, but a good functioning swivel is a must. If you don’t use one (or it isn’t working) you’re going to develop a severe

case of line twist. See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf

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