Fun fishing in early walleye territory: crankbaits!
I hear from anglers who assume that crankbaits only work in warm temperatures. Not true! Crankbaits will work opening weekend and all the way through summer, trolling or casting.
Most people troll crankbaits, but in a rip-rap area or other structure, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with some crankbait casting.
When trolling cranks, you have three choices: long-line, use lead-core, or three-way swivel rigs. Long-lining works best for shallower fish, and newer deep-diving (and specific-depth cranks) make this a viable option for even deeper-water scenarios.
Mark fish, then put that crankbait in the strike zone. If those fish are two feet off the bottom, then that’s where you need to be. Use whatever delivery system you need – lead core or three-ways – to get it there.
And don’t just troll in a straight line. Troll in an S-curve, and change speed and direction periodically, too. Those outside lines will catch fish, especially if you speed up periodically.
The size of your crankbait is an important factor. On opening weekend, try to match the available food sources. Think color AND length (size). In a tough bite or in cold water, start small, then pick out lures that will provide more of a subtle action with less vibrating pulse in the water.
I vary my trolling speed, usually running .8 to 1.5 mph is about right.
Experiment with color and rattles. If you have a lake with low fishing pressure, then maybe try a crankbait without a rattle.
At the recent Northwest Sportshow, an angler asked me about tying his crankbaits directly to the line.
I tie to a snap, which allows quick changes. But remember, a larger snap means increased vibration.