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Headin’ South for ‘Eyes
By Bob Riege
Winter has its icy grip on the Upper Midwest. Most of us have our boats
on our trailers and if "cabin fever" has set in all we need to do is pull
it out of the garage hook it up and we can be headin’ south for some great
walleye fishing. How far south, you might ask? Well if you could
draw a imaginary line through Little Rock, Nashville and Atlanta you could
pretty much define the southern limit of the walleye range.
But is seems that those lakes lying closest to that boundary are the ones
that produce the biggest fish. Many fishermen heading south will probably
fish deep water for walleyes
and that can be a big mistake. Most of the walleyes in these
southern lakes are shallow. Any short, hard bottom point may hold
walleyes on a given day. But reservoirs or lakes have hundreds of
short, hard bottom points. You are better off passing up the short
points and stopping when you find a long point with several kinds of fish
attracting features. A good point might have a stair step ledge on
one side, scattered rock on top and shale bed lining the other side.
The point’s shallow inside turn may be soft bottomed, while the deeper
outside turn might break off into another smaller, hard bottom point.
Such an area is almost certain to hold walleyes. The same principle applies
to sunken islands; many points, stair step ledges, and a variety of bottom
conditions are generally better than a
smooth, gradually breaking sand hump. I might also mention that
an already good island is made all the better by the presence of a saddle.
This saddle is a dip between two higher spots of land. If this saddle
area is connected to a prospective point all the better, because it is
a fish magnet. Don’t forget to check out some other productive areas such
as roadbeds, riprap, creek channels, stump fields, or isolated rock piles,
bars and rockslides. One type of structure that is over looked by many
anglers is floating structure. Oh sure there is the buoy and maybe
a swimming platform that
fish are attracted to, but more specifically there are mud lines.
Mud lines can be formed when the wind comes up on those warm days or they
may be formed as another stream or river flows into an existing one. The
confluence of the two rivers meeting will also form a mud line. All mud
lines are not created equal at least in terms of angling potential.
An angler should look for secondary structure contained in the mud line
such as vegetation, boulders, and submerged brush. This secondary
will hold baitfish and eventually the larger fish will follow the mud line
until it provides food or an advantageous ambush point. Mud lines are a
great structure to fish in because the angler can fish
them quickly. If you fish an area and you don't have a fish within
10 to 15 minutes move on to another location. My father, who loved
to troll, would work over a mud line and if nothing was active he would
be on to another spot. Lure selection in the form of crankbaits should
appeal to the fish senses. They should be big lures that displace
water and give off vibration, or rattle and they should be flashy with
bright metallic finishes. A great choice here would be the
Thunderstick. It has all the ingredients for fishing mud lines, color,
flash and vibration. If you are looking for trophy walleye fishing then
Greers Ferry in Arkansas is the place to be. Early in the winter
concentrate your fishing at the mouth of feeder creeks, especially in the
early evening hours. Troll your #7 and #9
Shad Raps parallel to the deltas formed by these creeks. To slow down your
lure presentation use a little jig tipped with a minnow. But don't
get stuck in a slow pattern. Utilize extremes. Rip the jig
back to the boat on one retrieve, and then work the jig slow, bouncing
it along the bottom on the next retrieve. My favorite jig in this
situation is a 1/4 ounce
Fuzzy Grub jig tipped with a minnow. I prefer the Fuzzy Grub because
it is round and I can easily attach a stinger hook to the minnow and up
my chances of catching a finicky walleye. When in doubt if you have
contact with the bottom, increase the size of your jig and minnow.
You might get hung up more, but you might also have a wallhanger on your
hands. There are literally dozens of healthy walleye fisheries in the large
flood-control and hydro-electrical lakes of the South. Such lakes
are Cumberland Lake in Kentucky; Stockton, Truman and Lake of the Ozarks
in Missouri; Greers Ferry, Bull Shoals and Norfork in Arkansas. The editors
of this column probably won't allow me space enough to tell you of all
my favorite lakes, or rivers. Just spend time on or near the water.
The more you practice and spend time in the great outdoors with your friends
and families the happier and more relaxed you will become. When planning
for that dream vacation include all the members of the family. Time
spent with your kids and spouse will be as memorable as an exploding bass
hitting a top water plug, or the soft pull of the walleye as the sun sets
on another Southern lake.
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