The truth is I got skunked. Although it was not for lack of trying hard. The weekly fishing report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced that walleye were on the spawn and in the shallows at Lake Manawa. A DNR official at a sport show had provided advice on where to fish and how deep. In addition, a book of Iowa lakes was purchased that showed all the hot spots on the lake and for all the lakes of Iowa. Now is the time for patience. Waiting for the right weather pattern will put fish in the boat.
The day came. I headed over to the bait shop and checked with the owner. No big fish had been reported caught. The only thing caught were small ones. They told me the big ones had all gotten away. Wind was light and variable in the early morning hours and the trend was to be southwest 5-15 during the day. This was perfect.
My first stop was on the south shore at a location named Tin Can dike. As a boy, I had fished with my dad at this location. At that time it was full of junked cars and other metal objects of varying size. It was a dangerous place to take a boat. The process was to cast into the edge where all the junk was hiding under the water. Then retrieve the bait. The rule of thumb was never let the bait drop to the bottom. If you did, you lost the lure. We fished with Johnson Silver Minnows with a pork rind attached. You never moved your boat in among the piles of junk. If you did, you would tear out the bottom.
The area now is all silted in, and the junk cars and other objects are totally covered with mud. The memory still lingers. Making sure of not getting too close to shore, I flipped a spinner with a minnow attached toward the bank and retrieved it. This pattern was repeated. I moved down the bank, but stayed out in five feet of water. The plan was to cover as much shoreline as possible. This was being accomplished by using the electric trolling motor on the bow. The DNR had told me the water was about two feet deep next to the shore. They also told me they had netted fish along the bank in the shallow water. This was in the early spring. After about 45 minutes, the area was covered, and the boat was moved back up to the original starting point. Here baits were changed. A Rapella Minnow was put on the line and the same process started again. Staying out in five feet of water and moving the boat down the shoreline produced nothing. Placing the lure just to the edge of the weeds on the bank and then slowly retrieving toward me was the plan. No walleye were produced. I was not going to give up.
The next plan was to move to an inlet that led into a lake home area just to the east of Tin Can dike. The boat was moved into the inlet. I kept it in the middle and then drifted slowly out toward the deeper part of the lake. I used a spinner with a minnow attached. It was chartreuse in color and the bait was coated with Berkley’s Walleye spray. All the guns were pulled out now. I was not giving up. I had no luck except for catching a small stripper. That gave me great hope. After two hours of nothing, it was time to move.
Heading over to the west side of the lake the wind had picked up and was more to the west. Still, that was okay. Arriving at the west bank, there were no boats, and no one fishing the bank. How could anyone pass up a morning this gorgeous. In previous years, starting at the southern most inlet to the housing area and moving south was productive. Back to the chartreuse spinner with the minnow and the bait spray. I decided to S turn into the bank and back out to three to four feet of water. For this exercise, I used the kicker and back trolled. You get great boat control with the kicker and I like it better.
Working for about an hour and reaching the south end of the lake, it was obvious the wrong tactic was being used or they were not feeding.
The wind now switched to the northwest, and clouds began rolling in. The wind also picked up in velocity and the temperature dropped. This was not forecasted. Back trolling along the bank, baits were switched from a Rapella to a Jig and Minnow combination. Nothing.
I had worked the lake now for about five hours. The weather was turning snotty, and I gave up. It happens. It is called fishing not catching. Everything should have worked, but this is why we keep going. It is all about the conquest, picking the day, picking the bait, and having some good luck along the way. With a lake ten minutes from my home, it is no problem to come back at my leisure.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank