How a Weekend Wedding Lead to Fishing the Big Waters

By Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

2014 - Unique WeddingMy wife informed me that we were heading to Islamorada, FL. for a wedding. I was excited because I had never experienced Florida, and I was convinced I would come back with a tan. I never expected what would happen when we arrived at our destination, but as faith had it, I met the bride’s dad, who some would call a fishing legend.

The night we arrived in Islamorada, the father of the bride asked if I had ever fished the big water. I explained that my fishing experience had been limited to North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I had never been fishing for deep sea creatures. He laughed and said I was in luck, because he had brought his boat! He insisted on taking me out to Whale Harbor the morning of the wedding in search for a monster Tarpon. To say I was excited would be an understatement – I gladly agreed to the offer.

The day of the wedding, I met him by the docks before sunrise, and we loaded up the fishing tackle. He explained to me that he could not guarantee anything, but would do his best to make a catch happen. It wasn’t an hour into the trip, and I hooked something big. The fight was on, and I was determined to land this creature. As time passed, I knew I was fighting the biggest fish of my life. After about 45 minutes I was able to pull in a tarpon that would kick the scales at over 100 pounds. This was a tremendous accomplishment and I was thrilled! The bride’s dad went one step further and filmed the entire adventure. It was priceless!

A few hours after the fishing trip, his daughter was married and we celebrated the wedding and the catch of the day. I will never forget what he did for me on that warm Florida day. He introduced me to a whole new world of fishing and I will always be grateful. Thank you for the experience and the memory of catching a monster tarpon!


Her First Fishing Adventure

By Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

2014 - Her 1st Fishing AdventureShe insisted on wearing her lifejacket before leaving the house for our very first fishing adventure. At two years old, my little girl loves to try new and exciting things, and today would mark our first fishing outing. I picked up a small Dora the Explorer fishing rod and created a small tackle box out of an old toolbox. We had a dozen night crawlers and multiple forms of snacks ranging from juice to cheerios. We had our sunglasses and sunscreen and we were ready to hit the open road.

Finally, the truck was loaded and we were off to a nearby pond. During the drive, I reflected on my first memory of fishing with dad. I remembered the feeling of catching my first fish and how excited and proud my father was in that moment. As memories began to flood my mind, I thought about what this experience would be like with my daughter. I thought about the memories we were making and how excited I was to witness her pulling in the catch of the day. As we approached the pond I felt like a kid in a candy store, so thrilled to being exposing my daughter to the beautiful art of fishing. The time had come to share what I had learned over the years with my daughter.

When we arrived at the fishing hole, we took off toward the dock. Within minutes, I baited my daughters hook, attached a bobber, and dropped the line off the edge of the dock. I took a deep breath and captured the moment of my daughter and I fishing together. Everything was perfect, the sun was up in the beautiful blue sky, the water was calm, and there was no one else fishing, just me and my baby.

Well, to say that snapshot in time was perfect would be understatement, but it did not last long. After just minutes of enjoying the moment, my daughter observed a park in the distance and insisted we leave our fishing adventure and move in the direction of the park. After she repeated the word park several times, I knew that our fishing trip was over, but what a moment, even if it only lasted a few minutes. The rest of the afternoon consisted of running around the park and going up and down the big slide.

Even though our fishing outing was short lived, we still experienced it together. This article is for all the moms and dads out there teaching their kids to fish, because I am certain you can relate. During our time together on the dock, I realized to embrace the moment and enjoy every second of it! We will be planning another fishing adventure in the near future and maybe this time we will find a pond without a nearby park.


Spinning Late Summer Lazy Walleyes

By Jason Wright, Co-Host of Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

WalleyeAs mid-summer quickly approaches and farmers are prepping their combines for harvest, those of us that chase walleyes begin to sense just how limited our open water fishing can be in North Dakota. There are those that have already begun to store their long-rods, switching their focus from fishing to bowhunting.  I often wonder if the cause of “early rod storage” is possibly because the late summer/early fall bite can oftentimes be tough.  However, there are many of us that choose to hang on and persevere through the tough walleye bite that can occur – especially on Lake Sakakawea – during the latter part of August and early September prior to the fall “feeding frenzy.”  It is safe to say that for some years the month of August can be phenomenal while for other years it’s just the opposite.


Now here is a scenario I have encountered on various late August/early September outings on Lake Sakakawea, and I think many of you can relate.  You’re excited to get to your favorite spot on the lake more so because there are only a handful of trailers at the ramp.  However, it’s one of “those” days on the water – you know the kind – a bit hot and quite muggy, and as the fishless morning continues your confidence in your chosen technique begins to melt like the ice in your cooler. You’re out in 25 – 35 feet of water, trolling over loads of fish that you know are walleyes – at least you are pretty sure – since this is the same area you caught them in last year not to mention last week.  But today you’re wondering if your Lowrance is stuck on simulation because it is fish after fish on the screen.  Frustration begins to take hold because not one of the perfect hooks moving across the screen is making any attempt at smashing your crankbaits.  Maybe they are salmon!  No, that can’t be since eventually one of them would take a crankbait.  Pike?  Nope, they too would sooner or later tear after a 400 Series Reef Runner; right?  Skipjacks?  Hope Not!


The situation doesn’t make sense. The water is warm, so the metabolism of these walleyes on the graph must be high meaning they should be “active” and feeding. The weather is stable; sunny and hot for the last few days.  But your “400 Series Ripshad Reef Runners” trolled with lead core which simply slayed them last week and is always a great go-to setup this time of year is being unnoticed. The problem could very well be and most likely is something you can’t see. After over-analyzing the situation you begin to wonder if the abundance of baitfish hanging in the 30 – 50 foot range had caused an all-out free for all feeding frenzy the past few days.  That’s it; they’re stuffed like sausages, lazy, lethargic and not in any mood to chase after a crankbait.


If you’re not following me, think of it this way: Many of us enjoy a mouth-watering holiday meal with family and friends, but we oftentimes over-eat, feeling lazy, tired and stuffed.  Now if the ice cream truck was driving down the street, you most likely aren’t going to jump up and chase it down; right?  But, if someone decided you should casually drive to Cherry Berry and sit down for a creamy cup of frozen yogurt you might be able to muster up enough energy to make that happen.  Do you see where I am going with this?


My suggestion, based on my own experience, is if you run into a similar scenario while fishing Lake Sakakawea like my daughter Brynn and I did on a recent outing, offer those stuffed and lazy walleyes a little dessert that is attractive enough to get them to check it out and then strike.


Spinners and CrawlersI have found that a spinner rig trailing a fat juicy nightcrawler can make a fabulous after dinner meal even for an over-stuffed walleye.  Another great tip that I have had great success with is rather than a live crawler try a Berkley Gulp!Alive! 7” Spinner Crawler which provides a rolling action walleyes can’t resist.  However, some days I have found that less is more so I remove the bottom hook from my spinner harness and tip the remaining hook with a Berkley Gulp! Killer Crawler.  If you haven’t tried either of the above Berkley Crawlers, they would be a wise purchase from Scheels. Give them a try, and you might be amazed at your success.


Several key factors make spinners and crawlers the best bet when nothing else works on suspended or bottom-hugging “dog day” late summer walleyes.  First, a spinner is presented more slowly than a crankbait this time of year, meaning the fish don’t have to work very hard to chase it down. Second, that tempting nightcrawler is enough to make a walleye’s mouth water as it rolls through the water giving off an undeniable scent. Third, the vibration of the spinner blade quite possibly mimics that of a struggling baitfish triggering an innate behavior strike.  And finally, the flash of a spinner will attract any fish in the area to it or at least get its attention, so even though you troll more slowly and cover less water; the strike attraction zone of the spinner is probably greater than with a faster moving crankbait. In other words, the fish can see this slow-moving, flashy thing from a long ways away and since it is going slowly, they will swim a fairly long way to investigate.


The dog-day walleye scenario takes place to some extent anywhere you find walleyes and baitfish or other food, such as insect larvae that are not relating to structure, although, I feel it is most common to encounter these “middle-of-nowhere” walleyes in larger reservoirs such as Lake Sakakawea or Lake Oahe where they are roaming large flats.  But, this doesn’t mean that this late summer presentation won’t work on your favorite lake since it has more to do with the time of year and the abundance of baitfish or other abundant food.


Colorado vs IndianaNo one spinner blade seems to work best in this situation, but rather try to match spinner size to the size of fish that dominates the lake. If I am targeting 18 – 22 inch fish (or smaller based on my most recent outings), then I usually choose a No. 2 or No. 3 spinner blade.  If the walleyes that I am targeting are much bigger, then I might choose a No. 6 spinner blade.  I have found that the Colorado and Indiana style blades tend to work better – for me personally – than some of the other styles, possibly because the wider blade produces more vibration than some of the other shapes.  Other blade styles that I have had success using are the chopper and hatchet style blades. These offer different vibrations than more traditional blades and can trigger bites from walleyes that would otherwise ignore your offerings.


As far as colors are concerned, I usually recommend beginning with the age-old rule which is the hammered silver and gold metallic blades work best in clear water and then go with more fluorescent colors when fishing stained water.  But remember these are just guidelines to help you get started and, then you can experiment to see what works for you; or maybe let the walleyes decide since we know they don’t really follow our rules.  There are many cool colors and finishes on the market today when it comes to spinner blades and one of my favorite combinations is the holographic/metallic combination since you get the best of both – color and flash.  These blades are also responsible for winning various walleye tournaments the past few years and are becoming more and more popular amongst fishermen.


Spinner Storage Tackle BuddyI choose to tie my own spinner harnesses so I can decide the length and pound test of the leader as well as the style and quality of hooks.  I begin with a 4 – 6 foot piece of 10# Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon monofilament and then snell two Eagle Claw Style L183 #4 hooks approximately two inches apart, add six 5mm colored beads a quick change clevis and then tie a loop at the end which is needed to attach to a snap swivel.  I use the winter months – during a period of cabin fever – to tie my spinner harnesses and then wrap them around a Tackle Buddy Spinner Holder which keeps them from getting tangled.  I store all my snelled rigs and spinners in a small plastic container so that I’m not digging through a bunch of boxes in order to find what I need when I am on the water.


Bottom Bouncer and Snap WeightTaking the spinner and bait to the fish depends on where in the water column they are. A very effective and efficient weighting system for trolling open water spinners is the use of snap weights. Using the Snap Weight option, clip one of these to the line 50 feet in front of the spinner, let out another 50 feet of line. By varying the weight (1/2 once to 3 ounces), you can vary your depth.  This works best if the fish are suspended 3 – 6 feet off the bottom and when utilizing planers boards to spread out your lines this can be a very effective and overlooked practice.  Another weighting system which is most commonly used is to attach the spinner to a bottom bouncer which enables you to better target bottom hugging walleyes.  I usually begin with a 1¼ ounce bottom bouncer and then adjust my weight depending on the depth of water I am targeting.  Some anglers, myself included, even go a step further and paint the lead part – acting as an attractant – of the bottom bouncer, and there is no doubt this can make a difference.  Both methods can be very effective in targeting and catching late summertime walleyes…sometimes the spinners pulled behind snap weights get more bites, sometimes it’s the ones attached to the bottom bouncer.  Again, it may take a little experimentation to determine what’s going to work best on any given day.


Using in-line planer boards to take the spinners out to the side of the boat increases the amount of water you can cover especially when targeting roaming walleyes on large flats.  By putting lighter weights on the outside lines and heavier weights inside, you can probe different depths until you find the set-up that catches fish and fewer tangles will occur this way too.


So with the remaining opportunities this summer – prior to the fall bite – try “spinning” those late summer lazy walleyes with a slow-moving spinner and a tasty nightcrawler.  Changing your normal tactics this time of year just might turn your “dog-day” outing into a more positive fishing experience.  This technique is also a great way to introduce and/or take a young person fishing since it is not unusual to catch a variety of species and there is always some type of action.



The River

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit
2014 - The RiverIt was a Saturday morning in late summer and I was making my way to a favorite fishing hole on the mighty Red River. When I arrived, I quickly found a V shaped stick and positioned it between two rocks on the river’s edge. My rod holder was complete! Next, I rummaged through my bag of tricks (tackle box). I grabbed the biggest hook and sinkers I could find and tossed my line into the murky depths of the Red. My mission was complete! I was now fishing on a beautiful summer day. As time passed I took note of bald eagles flying overhead, birds chirping, and the little red squirrel flying from tree branch to tree branch. I took a deep breath and let the sights and sounds soak into my meandering thoughts.

Soon the day had drifted away and it was time to make my journey home. As I started packing up my goodies I noticed a slight tug on my line. I waited for a moment and within seconds my rod was yanked from the rocks and started making its way down the sandy bank. I hustled, stumbled and dove for my rod before it crashed into the water. I leaned back with all my might to set the hook and the fight was on! I knew this was a big creature as soon as the hook was set.

The fight lasted nearly 30 minutes, but when the dust settled I pulled out this monster cat.
I was not expecting this huge fish to surface, but sure enough the big hook worked. My
grandfather always told me that if I wanted to catch something big, you must use big bait, and he
was right! The Red River always offers a unique mystical experience, because you never know
what you may pull from its depths. This fish was caught within the Fargo city limits and it’s
important to remember that great fishing spots may only be a few blocks away from your
homestead, so take advantage. I am looking forward to taking my little daughter out fishing for
cats in the near future. Sitting on the river’s edge is a great place for kids to learn the art of
casting and the importance of patience.


The Little Pond

Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

zLjhgyon6OGGf4YPqgdmcgvEiK3yFiQoL0Qm5roQ4yg,TOidf435GYFa2L0kZOJcskrAjO7RlAaltQPdeSNduYsAs I was attending graduate school, I was also plotting a plan to pop the big question to my lovely girlfriend. However, as a broke graduate student, living on bottom of the fridge soup and whatever I could create from wild game, buying a ring was a stretch. So on my way home one evening after class I pulled into a local business and asked the owner if he had any work. I told him my situation, and he simply just did not have any opportunities. As I was walking out a little disappointed, he stopped me and offered an opportunity. He had some rental properties in town and asked if I would consider scraping and painting one of the homes? He guaranteed $1000.00 after the project was complete. Like a kid in a candy store I jumped for joy and agreed in the moment.

As we continued to talk, I asked him about the pond nestled between two of his buildings. I was looking for a place to get my line wet and this was my golden opportunity. He smiled and told me to help myself and assured me that I would probably catch a few bass. That summer I spent time in class, painting and doing a little fishing from time to time. I realized right away that this little pond produced some pretty nice sized largemouth. I was catching 1-3 pound bass regularly and enjoyed every minute of the peaceful little pond.

One day after a challenging day in the classroom, I stopped by the bait shop and picked up a few minnows and headed to the little pond. I knew I would be alone and I could take a moment just to relax. I caught a couple of bass right away and eventually found myself snuggled up to the bank catching up on some long-awaited sleep. As I zoned in and out under the blue Iowa sky, I watched as the wind drifted my big red and white bobber toward the tall grass near the edge of the pond.

As the day slipped away, I dreamt of big fish, diamond rings and the mysterious supper I would soon be preparing that evening. After a wonderful nap I quickly looked for my bobber and sure enough it was still nuzzled around the weed bed where I left it hours earlier. As I was getting ready to leave, my bobber began slowly moving back and forth and eventually it started drifting against the wind out of the weed bed. I quickly thought I would catch one final bass before the day ended, but that was not the case at all.

All of a sudden my bobber started moving rapidly across the top of the water and in a flash disappeared. I reached for my rod and set the hook and witnessed a swirl that immediately indicated I was not going to be fighting a bass, this creature was much larger. The fight was on! I finally recognized the challenger to be a monster northern pike. As I wrestled on the pond’s edge, I was finally able to get the fish close enough to reach down and pull it from the murky pond. To my surprise, I pulled a 40 inch northern from the pond and I immediately called the owner of the business to show him the monster fish. He was shocked and snapped this picture to prove the fish’s existence.

That summer I finished graduate classes with a 4.0 GPA, bought an engagement ring for my girlfriend and created an unbelievable fishing memory. Have you ever been cruising down the interstate and noticed little ponds on your travels? This story is living proof that one never knows what’s tucked beneath the waters of those little old ponds. If you have time, try and fish the spots that you always drive by, because the outcome could surprise you as it did me.


Catching Post Front Walleyes

By Jason Wright, Co-host of Ultimate Outdoor Adventures TV

In order to become a better cold front walleye fisherman it’s necessary to learn how to recognize the postfrontal conditions.  Since a cold front can be anything from a severe thunderstorm to strong northerly winds bringing with them a wind-chill in July, most fishermen won’t put time in on the water until the system has passed. However, as a fisherman that used to stay on shore during cold fronts, I quickly learned how to read the signs and found that I had been missing out on some of the best fishing with little fishing pressure.

I used to consider “cold fronts” as an excuse for my lack of success, but throughout the years I have quickly learned that it is possible to catch these “cold walleyes.”  I just needed to adjust my fishing strategies and learn to recognize the pre-front, cold front and post front conditions.  Since I have learned to recognize these weather patterns more precisely, I no longer cringe when the weather forecast is predicting a cold front or knowing that the tournament days will be during a postfrontal weather pattern.

It is the post front conditions that usually send most fishermen home scratching their heads and telling one another, “We sure couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on the water.”  Post cold front conditions often are some of the most beautiful days fishermen spend on the water.  The sky is clear, the wind is calm and the temperature is just right!  They are also some of the least productive as far as numbers of fish are concerned.  The failure of recognizing post front conditions will send most fishermen in search of last weekend’s shallow feeding frenzy only to be left with the notion that they must have been one day late.  When in reality, they were in the right area at the right time.

The first step toward cold front success is realizing that you may be fishing during or after a major cold front.  Oftentimes post front conditions bring with them clear skies, calm winds, and cooler temperatures resulting in the perfect day to spend fishing your favorite 10 – 15 foot flat while trolling crankbaits or a bottom bouncer and spinner presentation. Yes, it might be the perfect day to be on that spot, but the walleyes might not agree.  Most likely, you and your fishing partner will continue fishing this spot or other spots similar to it with the same presentations not knowing that Mother Nature has played her “wild card.”  Put the pieces together…previous cold front…beautiful day…no fish!  There’s a good chance you are fishing during a postfrontal weather pattern.  It’s time to search for the map that you always keep in the glove box which you purchased because someone once mentioned that everyone should still have a good lake map – even with the technology available in the 21st Century.  Advanced sonar units with mapping capabilities are the norm on most rigs with installed contour lake maps, but I still rely on a good waterproof contour lake map when trying to locating these tight-lipped walleyes.

Whether it’s an electronic map on your Lowrance HD unit, program on your laptop computer, or the old fashion waterproof paper type, a good contour lake map will help to locate steep vertical drop-offs nearest your favorite hot spots.  Understanding and learning to read contour lake maps will enable you to be more prepared when you encounter a cold front fishing situation.

During stable summertime weather patterns walleyes are often found actively feeding on an underwater hump, sunken island or on top of a long shallow point.  However, walleyes will quickly abandon the typical summertime hotspots and retreat to the nearest deep/steep vertical structure and/or school together near inside corners or underwater bays seeking a secure refuge. These underwater “safe-zones” are pretty hard to locate without having the ability to see beneath the surface of the water via some sort of contour lake map.

Since more often than not these fish will quickly slip into deeper water, they are much easier to locate with your electronics compared to when they cruise the shallows searching for an easy meal.  Therefore, it’s as important to learn and understand how to use all the features/functions of your high-tech electronics to assist with this search.

As mentioned previously, cold front walleyes will relate most often to steep vertical structure which can be found using any contour lake map.  I would suggest starting your search by graphing main lake points where the river channel sweeps into the shoreline creating an easy escape to deep water.  If there’s no river channel in the area that you’re planning to fish, then look closely at the contour lines on your map and look for areas that normally hold large numbers of walleyes with easy escape routes to deep water.  These cold front “safe-zones” can be determined by looking for areas on the map where the contour lines are very close together referring to an area that has a steep vertical drop.

Once you have located these deep clinging cold front walleyes with your electronics, it’s important that you adjust your presentation to their lethargic state.  I have found that vertical jigging or slowly trolling a live bait rig triggers the most strikes.  It’s also a great time to dig out your anchor and toss out one rod with a slip bobber rigged with a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a leech. Then rig up another rod with a small jig or lindy rig tipped with either a minnow or nightcrawler.  Cast either the jig or lindy rig out and slowly retrieve it with short pauses.

Anchoring isn’t a method that’s used by many anglers with the advanced technology of powerful electric trolling motors, GPS units and 4-stroke kicker engines, but I assure you that it is a proven method to success when trying to catch “cold walleyes” on any lake, river or reservoir.  With the passing of the cold front, these fish have gone into a more lethargic state.  Therefore, it’s really important to position your bait directly in front of them while slowing down your presentation.  If you hook a fish under these conditions, quickly mark your location on your GPS or use a marker buoy in order to concentrate your efforts on top of the tightly schooled cold front walleyes.

Slow trolling with lead core line is another successful post cold front presentation which allows an angler to send small and/or otherwise shallow running crankbaits to deeper depths than they are normally capable of diving.  Utilizing lead core line is the best option in order to effectively contour troll crankbaits off and around breaks in order to target lethargic fish and/or fish that are relating tight to structure.  This is often the case for several days following a strong cold front.  The combination of the lead core trolling line and very small crankbaits can trigger an innate behavioral strike.

The next time you find yourself on the water during the most beautiful day, but without fish, think about the possibilities and ask yourself, “Is it possible that I am fishing during a postfrontal weather pattern?”  If the answer is yes, utilize your contour lake map, locate a “safe-zone” and adjust your fishing strategy.  You may be on your way to being a successful post cold front walleye angler.


Loading up Walleye

 Loading up Walleye

By Jason Mitchell, Jason Mitchell Outdoors

Like many anglers, I learned how to live bait rig for walleye with the bail open and my trigger finger on the line.  At the first indication of a bite, the thought process was to let line peel off the spool giving the fish line so that they could swallow the bait.  Anglers insisted that the less a walleye feels your presence, the better.

The author Jason Mitchell shares a few secrets on how you can keep catching walleyes this summer with live bait rigs.

The author Jason Mitchell shares a few secrets on how you can keep catching walleyes this summer with live bait rigs.

There are situations where giving to the fish, whether it be by feeding line or pointing the rod tip back when either running live bait rigs or spinner rigs, can be the ticket.  Especially earlier in the season, the drill often seems to be creeping the rig along and feeding the fish momentarily before the hook set.

One adjustment to make however that can be difficult for some anglers is dragging the fish versus feeding the fish.  Around the 4th of July on many bodies of water year in and year out, the water temperature continues to climb and the metabolism of the fish climbs.  There comes a point where you catch so many more fish by dragging the fish along versus feeding the fish.

Dragging the fish is just that.  No finger on the line with the bail open, no worry about the fish “feeling” the angler and no pointing the rod tip back towards the fish.  When you get a bite, you simply let the rod load up and drag the fish along until you start to get a few head shakes.  Ever had one of those days where the rod holder out fished you… when you were trying hard to catch a fish with the rod you were holding?  I know I have.

I think what happens as fish get aggressive is that they simply grab onto the bait and just don’t want to give it up if it seems to be getting away.  When you drag the fish with steady and constant pressure, the fish just seem to keep choking up on the bait or harness until they hook themselves.  This adjustment or change in attitude happens every summer.

Summer walleyes often require a few adjustments with both presentation and mentality.

Summer walleyes often require a few adjustments with both presentation and mentality.

Earlier in the season, rigging with live bait can often be considered a finesse tactic.  As the summer progresses, I often find that I catch more fish with a more aggressive mindset concerning live bait rigs… power rigging.  I often use a heavier walking sinker or bottom bouncer that keeps the presentation close to the transducer of the sonar.

I like heavier snells, sometimes as heavy as twenty-pound monofilament so that I can move really fast without the snell twisting up.  I often move as fast as a mile and a half per hour but then drop my speed as I mark fish on the electronics.  Once fish are deeper than fifteen feet, I feel that I will mark most fish that are below me.  The name of the game is to scoot along fast until you come across another pod of fish.  Once you find or mark some fish with your electronics, you can slow down and fish at speeds that might range between one half mile per hour to a mile and a half per hour for rigs and up to two miles per hour for spinner rigs.

One of the hottest rigging trends the past few seasons have been half crawler rigs that utilize a bent hook that causes the half crawler to rotate or cork screw through the water.  Most of the half crawler rigs on the market today use a much heavier hook and use two bends on the shaft of the hook which is quite different from the original half crawler rigs we made ourselves from the standard gold Aberdeen hook.  I still think the original designs are much better because the hook is lighter and only incorporates one bend so the action on the night crawler is tighter and more of a shimmy at a much slower speed.

Recently I designed a half crawler rig for Northland Tackle called the Crawler Hauler that also has a barb on the hook to keep the night crawler pinned in the right position.


Here is a video explaining how to use this hook design to catch a lot of walleye:


As summer progresses and water temperatures climb, successful rigging for walleye often begins to morph into something faster and heavier.  Feeding and finesses is replaced by dragging and loading up the rod.  I often switch from a medium light spinning rod action to a bait-casting rod like our Jason Mitchell Pro Walleye Series JM701MC as summer progresses because it is easier to set the hook by just sweeping the rod with the wrist.  Be conscience of these different mentalities and rigging options and get comfortable on each end of the rigging spectrum because these adjustments will allow you to keep on catching as the summer wears on.

Editors Note:  The author Jason Mitchell hosts the outdoor program Jason Mitchell Outdoors, which airs on Fox Sports North at 9:00 am on Sundays and Fox Sports Midwest at 8:30 am on Saturdays. More videos and information can be found at


[VIDEO] Trolling for Walleye

Join Justin Heider and Ryan Mereness as they go out trolling planer board for big Green Bay walleye! They also offer tips and words of advice along the way. Check them out in action here!


Lessons from Grandpa

by Matthew Skoy, Wildlife Pursuit

blog_grandpa2While most of my friends were chasing the elusive walleye and throwing spinners for monster bass, I found myself tucked away on the banks of the mighty Black River with a different goal in mind.

The Black River is 190 miles in length and nested in central Wisconsin. All kinds of species of fish inhabit the river, including giant muskies. I learned many lessons from my Grandpa on that good ol’ river. One of the most important lessons learned was patience.

It was early spring. Grandpa and I were perched on the river’s edge with sparkplug sinkers, somewhat sharp hooks, and two dozen of Wisconsin’s finest crawlers. This particular fishing adventure was different; that day we were registered for the Annual Rubber Lips Tournament (RLT). The RLT was developed by a handful of old-timers sitting around the local watering hole trying to figure out what to do with all the rough fish (sheepshead, sucker, mullet, carp, red-horse) being caught on the Black River.

The tournament was organized into three categories; the heaviest single rubber lip, the heaviest three combined rubber lips, and the rubber lip toss. The toss consisted of trying to launch a rubber lip into a bucket without stepping over a makeshift line drawn on the ground. Some folks would call it small town horseshoes with a flair. I am happy to report that Grandpa and I took third place in the toss that year. He would tell you that it was all me and my golden arm, but I know I could not have done it without my coach.

We never took home first place, but we always had a story to tell. Fishing rubber lips on the Black River with Grandpa Skoy turned into a tradition and a memory I will never forget. I will always remember Grandpa telling fishing and hunting tales on those sandbanks, being snagged on the river’s bottom more times than I could shake a stick at, and relying on Grandpa to get me back in the action. I will always remember yelling “fish on” and both falling and scrambling in search of the net that we typically forgot… and who could forget the giant mosquitoes!

I will always remember my Grandpa Skoy and his love for the outdoors and his patience with a rambunctious kid trying to pull his line from yet another snag. My Grandpa taught me many lessons on the river’s edge and being patient was one I’ll always remember. Being patient with children as they learn the art of fishing and hunting is critical and I owe that gained perspective and insight from my Grandpa Skoy.

Thank you, Grandpa.


Gear Up for Fishing at Scheels Fish Fests

Bass….Walleye….Catfish….What species are you angling for? At Scheels Fish Fest it does not matter because we have it all! Everything from tackle and electronics to premium rods and at the best prices of the season!

Need some advice? We can help you with that too. With Scheels Pro Staff Fishermen on hand, in addition to our Scheels Experts, we can answer any questions you may have about fishing, everything from the back channels to the open water.

Want to bring the family along? Please do! We have a Kids Zone with activities and prizes for your little ones. Make sure you catch the demonstrations put on by Bass Tubs of Oklahoma, a 40’ unique aquarium experience that will entertain the kid’s right along with mom and dad.

Sound like fun? Of course! Sioux City Scheels offered this experience to their customers on April 11th and 12th. With over 1,500 individuals perusing the event over the two days, the success of the event was evident. In addition to the great weather, there were smiles all around! Scheels Event Coordinator, Penni McIntosh, comments on the event, “Scheels truly enjoys offering these experiences for our customers. We pride ourselves on presenting fun shopping opportunities that other retailers do not.”

Customers were in awe at the amount of product and special pricing that were available at the event. That paired with the expert knowledge of the Pro Staff Fishermen made for a great start to all those novice anglers out there. Iowa Pro Staff Fishermen Scott Keeley & DJ Pinney comment on their event experience, “It was great to visit with and assist Scheels customers during Fish Fest. We spend a significant amount of time on the water and it’s always great to share our experiences with others to help make the most of their next outing.”

Want to attend? Check out the other Scheels Fish Fest events coming to a store near you, we know this will not be one you are going to want to miss!

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