Shake, rattle and roll for spring walleyes

If you have the urge to get out and do some walleye fishing, don’t overlook the fishing on rivers in your local areas.
In cold water and in the early part of spring, walleyes are not real aggressive so an angler has to use all the tricks of the trade to entice them to bite. And probably the most overlooked aspect of walleye fishing is the use of sound.
Sound travels at a rate of about one mile per second through water, which is five times faster than its speed through air. Fish have developed extremely acute hearing, especially on low frequency sounds.
Anyone who dives below the surface assumes the underwater world is silent simply because we humans have difficulty hearing in that medium. But science has shown the opposite is true.
A moving school of bait fish sends out sound waves. The noise of a tackle box scraped along the deck of a boat is echoed through the water. Footsteps along the bank send vibration into the water. Some fish can hear the sound made by a worm wriggling into the bottom.
Fish have become adept at detecting–and reacting–to these various sounds that signal food or danger.
When a fish is injured or its normal swimming impaired, it gives off distress vibrations. These are totally different sounds than those of a healthy creature or one swimming unencumbered.
Predators recognize distress vibrations and hone in on them from considerable distances with a purpose. They know that a fish in trouble is an easy meal not requiring the expenditure of much energy. And the predator seems to know exactly where the sound is coming from even though it is far away.
There also is some evidence chemical factors may be involved and help predators locate injured prey.
With all this in mind, many of the top lure manufacturers have produced a variety of lures that rattle. Designed to attract fish from far and wide to see what is going on or to stimulate a feeding desire, these lures may be as small as a jig or as large as a muskie crankbait.
Regardless of their size, bass anglers have been using them for years and they are finally catching on with walleye anglers.
Spring walleyes always are trying to move upstream to tailwaters below the dams in order to look for abundant food, oxygen, and to begin the breeding cycle. Anglers start going to such areas on the Mississippi River as early as February looking for pre-spawn walleyes that are in the large holes just below the dams.
I prefer to look for walleyes away from the crowds. I also know that spring walleyes are looking for current breaks so they can hold up as they migrate to the tailwater area. So I try to concentrate more on riprap or wingdams, and even backwater channels that might contain slack water areas.
In order to find these walleye in out-of-the-way places, I have to cover a great deal of water. To locate feeding walleyes, I will use a Storm Lightening Shad (in the metallic silver or the golden shiner colour) trolled with a long line because many times walleyes in the spring are located shallow.
The walleyes might spook from the boat going over the top of them but forget about it when they hear the shaking and rattling of the Storm Lightening Shad.
If the fish are tight to riprap, I will attach an Off Shore planer board to the line. This will allow me to make an even shallower presentation of my rattling bait to the walleyes that inhabit the shoreline area.
If I find a concentration of walleyes along a given riprap or shoreline, I will caste a Rattlin’ Thin Finn. This unique lure gets to the desired depth quickly and offers a rattling injure baitfish attractant to those finicky spring walleyes.
When I am fishing along the riprap, I use a method known as “slipping the current.” Basically this method allows the operator of the boat to stay in one spot or to drift downstream slowly by using the electric trolling motor. I set my bowmount MotorGuide to match the speed of the current, and occasionally I will increase the thrust to move upstream to new water.
Your electric trolling motor is important for you to use in this situation because it provides a quiet approach to fishing fish in the shallows. A gas engine is likely to spook the fish, and the method of staying in one place to combat the current is difficult at best.
Feeding within a lake, stream, or other body of water often becomes a chain reaction. Fish hear the sounds of other fish feeding and often begin to look for food themselves. The sounds of a tail thumping and splashing can have a positive effect on many fish at the same time.
This spring, head out to the rivers and put on some rattling baits. Then put on you blue suede shoes and get ready for some shake, rattle, and roll.

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