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Get in the Game
By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson

Everyone can use a game plan to catch more walleyes. The one used by 
Jason Przekurat, the 2003 RCL Angler of the Year, is easy to remember 
and effective when put into practice. It goes this way..North to South, 
Inside and Out.

Northern areas of lakes and reservoirs tend to warm first, especially if 
that's where the feeder river and creeks empty in. After spawn, fish 
move south along shoreline structure. As water warms, they migrate from 
the shoreline to deeper parts of the body of water.

That keeps walleyes on the move. Przekurat has dropped an Aqua-Vu  underwater camera and seen a hundred walleyes only to return to the same 
structure two weeks later to see none at all. He commonly catches walleyes on Green Bay in his home state of Wisconsin that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources tagged only a short time earlier many miles away.

"Walleyes are simple to catch, but very hard to find," Przekurat said. "They're here one day and gone the next. They're nomads. ...If you can find them, you can usually catch them."

Putting fish in the boat is a matter of the right location, the right presentation and enough confidence to know you can do it.So how do you track them down?
"A lot of guys are shocked when they pull onto a ramp and ask where do 
we start?"So, repeat after us - north, south, inside and out. Finding fish begins when you buy a map of your targeted lake. Don't wait until the last minute. Give yourself enough time to study it and learn all you can.

The first step -- and the one often overlooked -- is to read the map legend. That's the box that tells you how to translate all the map's abbreviations. You need to know what a stump field, standing timber or weed bed looks like. You need to know what it means when the contour lines are close together to signal a sharp drop-off or farther apart, denoting a flat. Good maps also indicate important transitions from sand, gravel or rock to mud.

Look for the inlets, which bring in warmer water during the spring. Next, identify the structures that might hold fish at various times of year. Include the flats used for spawning and to feed, the areas with cover of all kinds that attract ambush predators like walleyes, the drop-offs where they may lurk, mid-lake mud flats, humps and others. The next step is to evaluate the fish-holding potential of each one.  Small structures and those void of cover -- what Przekurat terms as "boring" places -- won't hold as many walleyes as larger ones that offer a variety of cover to hide for both walleyes and their prey.
Now you're ready to apply what Przekurat calls the most important factor 
in walleye location."Fish location depends upon water temperature," he said. "The colder it is, the closer they are to spawning areas, the warmer, and they'll set up in other places." Surface temperature should be 45 to 52 degrees at about the time of the walleye opener in May. Forget the southern section of the lake for now unless there are isolated bays within the lake. Look for walleyes 
spawning on harder bottom flats in the northern sections of lake, which the sun will warm first. Best locations are near rivers and creeks that provide warmer water. 

Catch walleyes by pitching jigs.Walleyes begin feeding shortly after they lay their eggs. As water warms from 50 to 60 degrees, begin moving gradually toward southern structures. Look for major feeding opportunities, such as flats that feature emerging weeds or sandbars that stretch from the shore to deep 
water. Przekurat finds casting crankbaits can be deadly at this time of year.
Don't waste time fishing the entire length of a weedline. Instead, concentrate on the "something different," such as points, inside turns and places where one type of vegetation meets another. Those spots signal a change in bottom content, and that means a wider variety of forage is present.

As water moves to the 55 to 65 degree range, it's a good time to check flooded timber. Fish the timber that's related to structure. Pay attention to what may appear to be minor details. At Devil's Lake, N.D., Pzrekurat said he found the best standing timber located on steeper breaks close to shore with rock. 

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Use slip-bobber rigs, NO-SNAGG jigs tipped with leeches or crawlers. Cast them into pockets in the wood. Set the hook as soon as the float disappears. Water warms into the 65 to 70 degree range by mid summer. Walleyes stop 
biting, right? Wrong. In fact, they bite more aggressively. A walleye's preferred temperature range is actually 67 to 71 degrees. You need only move away from shore to find them. Remember the game plan. In, then out means you move from the shoreline toward the middle of the lake. Search for the deeper rock piles that top out in shallow water less than 10 feet deep."These are generally big-fish magnets," Przeruat said.Start by motoring around the rock pile in order to identify subtle changes in shape. Anchor and fish the points and inside turns with slip bobbers, small jigs and leeches.
Mayflies hatch when summer progresses and the water reaches 75 to 80 degrees. This will draws fish to the mud flats. If your state allows trolling, try it. If not, drift with spinner rigs and nightcrawlers. 
Pzrekurat matches the blade size to the average size of the walleyes in 
the lake. For example, try #5's to #8's for the Great Lakes, #3's and 
#4's for flowages.A GPS is critical at this stage. Catch a fish, mark the spot with a way point. Move off to the side and make another pass. Catch another fish, mark it with another waypoint. Soon, you'll know the size of the school 
and you can troll or drift through it time and again.
There are always a few variables in the game plan. If you check a 
structure that should hold fish at that time of year only to find 
unsuitable water clarity, either too dingy or too clear, move on without 
wasting time. The suitability of a structure can increase day to day if 
wind is blowing into it.
North, south, in and out - remember the plan and get in the game

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