Understanding the Evolution of Suspended 'Eyes
Walleyes suspend an awful lot, much more I bet than most anglers want to imagine. I say, "want to imagine," because many anglers do in fact hate the idea of fishing in "no man's land." That is off the bottom. The bottom is such a nice constant, something so definite. When we fish an area, we like fishing the bottom. If we don't catch anything, we move, try a different depth, and try something more unusual until we locate the active fish.
Most of the time, we have to find the bottom to find walleye. There are sometimes, however, when walleye aren't anywhere near where they are supposed to be. I think the biggest misconceptions about walleyes and walleye fishing is the fact that we want to make so many rules. Vague, general rule of thumbs are about as close as we are ever going to get when it comes to fishing.
I have often noticed walleye in aquariums just floating around, suspended in the water column. Granted, this isn't the natural environment but it tells us something. Not all suspended fish are indeed ferocious or active as we are so often intended to believe. Some of the fish suspended in some of the aquariums I have watched seem almost frozen. Some of these suspended fish really do not appear very aggressive at all. Other fish however are wandering all over the tank; making passes high off the bottom. Maybe they are looking for food or just a way out of the tank.
Some people also believe that walleyes don't suspend on the lakes they fish. Most will agree that walleye will suspend on some lakes more than others. Some of us fish on a lake where walleyes suspend. Some of us fish on a lake where walleyes don't suspend. I am to the conclusion, however, that there is no such thing as a lake where walleye never suspend. I believe there are general suspending patterns or reasons to make fish leave the security of the bottom and walleye anglers by and large have only begin to recognize some of these patterns.
The most popular pattern we find walleyes suspended is when coldwater fish like smelt or ciscoes become the forage. Other well-known scenarios for suspending walleyes deal with large basins and stratifying layers of water in the water column. Most suspending walleye patterns seem to be associated with big water. Many people realize that walleye suspend in the Great Lakes, Some of the really large natural lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin, not to mention some of the large western reservoirs. Many anglers also don't mess around looking for suspended walleye where trolling techniques aren't applicable. Many small lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin are "no troll" lakes or prohibit using motors.
Many anglers are trolling for suspended walleye while many other anglers are deciding that trolling isn't applicable to their favorite lakes or that walleye's don't ever suspend on the lakes they fish. More and more anglers are discovering however that walleyes can and do suspend on some of the small lakes not known to have a suspending walleye pattern. Anglers are finding suspended walleye far from the basins of Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie, perhaps even on a small lake right down the road. More and more anglers are also discovering that trolling isn't the only way or even the most effective way for catching walleyes up off the bottom. Small water suspended walleye patterns can often produce some of the years best fishing.
How does a person target these fish? Especially in the tight spots that aren't conductive to trolling or on lakes where trolling isn't allowed? Chances are, you already know the answer, and probably already have the rod rigged up in your b
Anglers often anchor upwind or up current from where they intend to find fish and let slip bobbers drift through the area. A group of anglers can dangle bait at different depths until a depth pattern emerges. Flooded timber, emerging vegetation and complex rock piles can literally be picked apart from top to bottom. Slip bobbers come in countless sizes and styles with most slip bobbers made of either balsa or hard foam. Balsa was long regarded as the most sensitive and easiest to cast while hard foam was much more durable. A new soft foam float however called the Wave Buster is rewriting the classifications of sensitivity, durability and casting ease.
More anglers are starting to understand suspending walleyes and are getting more confident fishing for them. Trolling tactics geared for suspended big water walleyes have really taken off in the past couple of decades. Now anglers on smaller walleye waters not known for suspending fish are going through a similar revolution. Precisely fishing the entire water column with slip bobbers has proved to be an efficient tactic for pulling walleyes where trolling doesn't work. For more information on the Wave Buster Bobber, check them out on the web at: www.todaystackle.com or check with any retailer that carries modern slipbobber accessories.
Editors Note: The author, Jason Mitchell heads Devils Lake's largest and most respected open water guide service, Mitchell's Guide Service. Mitchell's Guide Service can be contacted by calling (701)662-6560. Check them out on the web at www.fishdevilslake.net. Lodging and complete fishing packages on Devils Lake through Mitchell's Guide Service are available at Woodland Resort, (701)662-5996, www.woodlandresort.com or the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort, 1-866-WAL-EYES. Mitchell's Guide Service is also the exclusive guide service for Lake View Lodge, (701)665-5060 and the Great American Inn, (701) 662-4001. If most of Devils Lake's lodging facilities choose Mitchell's Guide Service as their exclusive open water guide service, so should you!
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