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Two-timin' man
By John Kolinski
Editor's note: John Kolinski is the 2002 Professional Walleye Trail Angler of the Year, the 2003 Illinois River RCL winner and a 17-time championship qualifier. He is the only anger to fish the PWT and B.A.S.S. at the same time. His articles can be read in numerous Midwestern outdoor publications and at several web sites. Kolinski is sponsored by Triton Boats, Mercury Motors, Lowrance Electronics, Yo-Zuri fishing line, Normark/Storm Lures, MinnKota, Lindy Legendary Tackle, Tempress Rod Holders, Off-Shore Planer Boards, Optima Batteries and Panther Marine.

Some of us just aren't cut out for monogomy. As much as we might love walleyes or bass or crappies, we can't commit to a dedicated relationship with any one species. Sure, everything is fine when the walleyes are feeling frisky in the spring and fall. They get our undivided, doting attention. Then we meet a shapely
crappie with mischief in its eyes and forget all about walleyes for a few weeks. Inevitably, there comes a day when the crappies move away, leaving us to wallow in self-pity until we spot a photo in the local newspaper of the most gorgeous bluegill we've ever seen. Off we go on another courtship. And when that romance fades, we go crawling back to the walleyes and rekindle our passion for those gold-flecked beauties. Meanwhile, we'll flirt with northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, sauger and maybe even a few catfish. I'm a two-timin' angler and proud of it. I like to get around as much as
possible on a given day, especially in January when there are both hard-water and open-water opportunities. Whoever said you can't have it both ways wasn't trying very hard. One of my favorite January adventures is a day that includes both ice fishing and a few hours of open-water river fishing.
I have to admit that I get a few odd looks when I pull into a parking area at a frozen lake with my Triton 215X in tow. Those rubber-neckers don't know what they're missing. What makes such trips both appealing and successful is the timing. Often, the best bite for crappies is at sunrise and sunset, while the deep-water bite for walleye and sauger on rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri is through the middle of the day. Or, if I want to get in on the shallow-water, big plastic walleye bite that exists during low-light conditions (before sunrise and after dark) on the sand flats of the big rivers, I can pursue bluegill and perch through the ice during the middle of the day.
The best-case scenario is a two-day escape when you can mix it up and get in a little of everything.
Organization is a key. When you are ready to hit the ice, you don't want to be digging through the boat for lures or scissors. Likewise, when you are ready to launch the boat, you don't want to sift through your ice-fishing gear to find a minnow scoop or a couple of hand-warmers.Simplification is also important. It's hard to cover all the possibilities and presentations that might work on the river, so narrow it down to the
basics. For me, that's jigging and slow-trolling. That means I'll need two jigging rods, two trolling rods, a box of jigs, a box of plastics, a box of Original Floating Rapalas and a box of terminal tackle.
All four rods will be rigged with Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon line, which is important because cold-water walleye and sauger aren't always aggressive biters, especially in deep water. Sometimes, all you feel is a subtle "tick" and sometimes when jigging, they are barely hanging onto the minnow. A highly sensitive
line coupled with a quality graphite rod helps relay those signals to the angler My choice of jigs will depend on water clarity and current velocity. Typically, January brings low, clear water without much flow. That usually means a quarter-ounce or 3/8th-ounce Lindy Fuzz-E-Grub jig will work well for vertical jigging. If there's more current, go to a Jumbo jig that's more aquadynamic. Tip them with fathead minnows and keep a stash of stinger hooks handy. Another jigging rod will be rigged with a Lindy Max-Gap jig head that I will tip with big plastic, such as 4- or 5-inch ringworms or grubs. If I'm casting shallow water and wind isn't a major issue, an eighth-ounce jig is probably enough. If I'm working this combination on a breakline in current, a slightly larger size is the way to go. Color selection is an interesting dilemma, and I'm not sure it's as important in January as boat control and location. I've seen days in crystal clear water when a black or blue jig worked for me while lime green or chartreuse
kept one of my boat partners busy at the same time. As far as trolling goes, think slow. Water temperatures are in the upper 30s to low 40s, and the fish are lethargic when compared to summer behavior. Two presentations should cover it - three-way rigs with stickbaits or three-ways with floating jig heads tipped with minnows.

John Kolinski with a huge early season walleye I use my Mercury 9.9 hp kicker motor to inch my Triton upstream and I rely on my Lowrance 111HD sonar/GPS unit to define the current breaks, sharp edges in the bottom contour, transition areas where sand meets rock or sand meets mud and the tips of wingdams I'll want to fish. Mid-river humps can be dynamite, as can the edges of scour holes below dams.This presentation typically requires a two- to four-ounce pencil sinker
(depending on the current flow) on a 12-inch dropper line and a Rapala anywhere from the No. 9 size to a No. 11 or No. 13 on a lead of about six feet. I've had success with all three sizes.If you plan to keep a few fish, it's a good idea to keep a small cooler in the boat rather than use the livewells, and always remember to drain the main outboard and kicker of any water before heading for home or for your favorite ice fishing hole.When I hit the ice, I'm usually ready to go for any species. Everything I need is stored in my sled, including auger, Lowrance sonar unit, ice scoop, heater, lantern, rod and reel combos, bait and lures.

For bluegills, I keep an assortment of micro jigs on hand. For crappies, I like to use small jigs or small jigging spoons tipped with minnows on one road while dead-sticking a plain hook and minnow under a float on another. For perch, an assortment of jigging spoons will usually do the trick, although there are times when jigs excel.Bait generally consists of small minnows, wax worms and mousies.As far as location on a given lake, other anglers or those who have gone before you usually provide a good starting point. Once you are able to determine what depth of water and what type of bottom content they are fishing, you can look for similar areas elsewhere.Stay mobile, work the edges in areas where there is a lot of fishing pressure and trust your sonar unit or flasher. You can't catch what isn't down there.A good day is one where you return home at night, clean a few fish and collapse for a well-deserved rest with a smile on your face. You might even wonder what kind of day your one-species neighbor enjoyed

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