Catching Walleyes

I used to fish a reservoir in central Kansas. The bait shop owner was not an early to rise person, and merely put out all the bait and left a covered coffee can to deposit the money. We helped ourselves, put the money in the can according to what we took based on the price list and went fishing. One day, I ran out of bait as the fishing was hot. I drove back into town and met the owner for the first time. I asked him about his method of doing business and if he was concerned about being cheated. “Good grief no,” he said, “fishermen are liars not thieves.”

It took me 50 years to figure out one thing I consistently did wrong. Do not fish after a low pressure has passed. Wait a couple of days. You should want the winds to calm down somewhat and switch from the east to the south to southwest. The old rule “Wind from the east fishing is least, wind from the west, fishing is best.” Another item I used to never pay any attention to was the moon. When there is a full moon, fishing is best. I have no idea who told me this, but periodically it seems to work. This was the case on the weekend.

I have never had great success fishing Lake Manawa south of Council Bluffs. When I was a boy growing up it was the place to go, but the lake silted in making it very shallow in spots. Talking with the DNR at the winter shows, they always told me there is great walleye fishing in that lake. Since I live close, driving over for a couple of hours was handy whenever I had some spare time. Early morning or late evening I would sometimes pick up a walleye or two, some crappies for sure, maybe a bass, a wiper, and usually a drum. The decision was made. I am really going to get serious and go hammer that lake till I catch a nice limit of “eyes”, and I am going to do it in the morning. Tall order.

The weather could not have been more perfect. Southerly flow with light to moderate southwest winds was forecast. There would be just enough breeze to put a good ripple or light wave on the lake. Really windy days are tough on boat control even if the wind is in the right place. A full moon was present. The bait shop said minnows was the first choice and crawlers the second. I am really going to do this right. The plan was to be on the lake by 4:30 AM, and this is a tall order.

Next morning at 3:30 I was up, got the coffee going, grabbed a roll, hooked up the boat, and headed to the lake. What a beautiful morning. It was crisp, but not cold. A light breeze out of the west, and a beautiful full moon glistened across the lake. It can’t get any better that this. I am on the lake by 4:30.

I started pulling spinners S turning into the shore then out to about 2 to5 feet of water. I had some soft hits but nothing showed any appetite. I was working the southeast bank and decided after 30 minutes to move. Next I worked the south bank west of the boat ramp. Again, I stayed with the spinner, chartreuse and orange with a minnow, and S turned in and out working 2 to 5 feet. There is a deep hole that goes down to 8 to 9 feet northwest of the beach, and I worked it also. I picked up several crappie, but they were small and so lived another day. After 45 minutes, I moved to the west bank. This area has rip rap, and some points sticking out into the lake. There is some weed and sunken timber close to the bank, and I got hung up a couple of times. I adjusted my distance from the bank to stay as close to the bank without getting snagged. I had a couple of hits, but nothing really strong like a hungry feeding walleye. This bank stretches north and south about a ¾ mile. I switched to a red and white spinner and put on a crawler. I also sprayed the bait with fish attractant.

That did it. I picked up two keepers one right after the other off one of the points. The fish were not big, but about 16 inches, and a walleye that size filets outs nicely. Thirty minutes later, I picked up another and then a couple of really small fish. I kept working south along the bank, but moved out to a little deeper water. As it begins to get light the action close to shore stopped and I focused more out from the bank. By full day light, I picked up one more fish, and I was done for the day. Time 7:45 and it was time for breakfast.

If you have a story or pictures you want to share, e-mail them to me and I can put them on the net for everyone to enjoy. Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck. Hank. Code HJ3ZDG8PSSN5

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