Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Pitch plastics parallel to produce more ’eyes

Rather than casting toward a breakline as you search for walleyes, try casting parallel to the break. You’ll be spending more more time in productive water. (Photo courtesy of Steve Carney)

By Steve Carney

Contributing Writer

Walleyes and pike have mostly now left their spring locations and new fishing patterns are developing as we get deeper into June. These fish are now relocating just off shoreline breaks and flats.

Since the May fishing opener, walleyes and pike have been shallow, but now, as we approach water temperatures in the low 70s, they’re more commonly found in 11 to 17 feet of water.

Walleyes tend to get much more aggressive as summer arrives, and I do a lot of casting with paddletail swimbaits and jigs adorned with plastic minnows. Real minnows have been tough to come by this year, so a switch to plastics makes sense.

Most anglers are conditioned to approach breaklines or sharp-breaking structure and cast into the break. Casting directly into the break gives the fish just seconds to find your bait. Basically, you’re wasting a huge amount of time not even in the fish zone.  

Next time out, think parallel.

This means positioning your boat parallel to the breakline and casting along the breakline. This will keep your bait in the strike zone the whole time, instead of being in the strike zone maybe 20% of the time. 

I use 1⁄4-ounce jig heads along with aggressive 4-inch paddletails and/or splittail plastics. I use a snapping of the rod tip to make the tail jump and fall. Plastics allow you to be as forceful as you want, and snapping the tail forward can also trigger bites. 

When using plastics in this aggressive manner, set the hook on any “tick” or “bump” you encounter. I tell my clients to set the hook if anything seems weird in the retrieve. Many times, walleyes and pike will grab the paddletail and swim directly toward the boat.

Again, anything out of the ordinary, no matter how mild, set the hook.

Casting parallel to your chosen structure requires extremely long casts because you want to keep the bait well away from the boat. Use your trolling motor to slowly work down the sides of the breakline, casting parallel either to the front or the back of the boat.

Once you get the hang of it, success will come. As usual, perfecting this presentation takes a bit of time, but it will be time well spent.

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