Applying bass tactics for walleye

Learning to adapt your fishing tactics from one species to another can be very effective.

In my last blog, I talked about how Capt. Joe Fonzi of Gasport was able to capitalize on his Lake Erie fishing focus and how he was able to get it to work for him on Lake Ontario. However, through a bit of experimenting and exploring the Lake Erie shoreline, he was also able to use some of his bass ingenuity to work for him walleye fishing as well. Not only can it be productive during certain times of year, it can be a lot of fun.

During the latter part of August and into early September, Fonzi found that by bottom-bouncing with a chugging iron and a worm harness using a three-way rig setup, he was able to locate small groups of fish adapting to humps, rock piles, reefs and shoals in 40 to 50 feet of water.

Of course, he would be using his Lowrance electronics to narrow down his search before his reached out to touch the bottom with bait. When he identified the most likely areas and marked the spots, he would go back with his drop-shot setups – the same setups he uses for bass – to specifically target walleye.

That setup is a 5/8-ounce sinker on the bottom and a size 1 or 2 VMC Spin Shot hook about a foot-and-a-half up from the sinker on 10-pound test Fireline. The bait was 3-inch Gulp minnows and the technique was simple: Drop the bait into the pod of fish and give it a little jiggle. Stop and repeat. It wasn’t long before we had our first walleye.

“I’m really looking for larger groups of walleye where everyone on the boat will hook up at the same time,” said Fonzi. “This time of year, the fish school up, probably feeding on emerald shiners or other bait around bottom structure. You can do very well on walleye … and also catch other kinds of fish in the process.”

Fonzi talked about how his son fished in a bass tournament the weekend before near where we were and he caught four nice bass using the tactic. However, he also caught 10 walleye – not what he was looking for.

Our next fish was another nice walleye before Tim Connor of Dania Beach, Fla., (formerly of Western New York) hauled in a 4-pound bass. We also caught silver bass and rock bass. We mostly caught walleye, though.

“Drop-shotting for walleye is something I really look forward to this time of year and my customers really enjoy it,” said Fonzi. “These pods of fish can be found up and down the New York shoreline of Lake Erie, from Buffalo to Barcelona. You just need to take a little time locating the structure and the fish. Use your electronics to help you find those fish. Electronics don’t lie. And when you do find them, mark the spots. You can keep going back over those spots to catch fish or use your trolling motor to stay on top of them.”

Drop shotting for walleye? Fonzi made me a believer. Give it a try.

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