Hall of Fame Angler Gary Parsons lives to catch big walleyes, and with the techniques he covers in this article, you will learn one of the deadliest methods around for targeting the true trophies.
It’s almost a cliché’, “To catch big fall walleyes, use big bait”, but the fact is, it’s true. Live bait techniques using large minnows for fall trophy’s has been standard fare for walleye anglers for some time. The refinements we would like to talk about here revolve around your choice of bait and a few simple yet effective tips to help you better ensure success in the fall.
Let’s start off by saying that not all minnows are created equal. Although bait choice can have it’s regional preferences, when it comes to attracting monster walleyes, the good ole’ all-American Creek Chub is hands down the best bait you can use. Be sure to check regulations in your state however, there are a few places where Chubs are not legal to use as bait. Even where they are legal, they can be tough to find and expensive when you do find a source, but if a trophy is your goal, it is well worth the effort.
Creek Chubs are native to most waterways of the MidWest and eastern states to as far south as Oklahoma. They can grow up to 12 inches in length with the most common size used by walleye hunters being in the 5 to 9 inch range. Chubs are popular for a few key reasons. First they tend to be a hearty bait on and off the hook. Kept in a well aerated bait or live well they can be kept for several days with little hassle. Where they really shine is at the end of your fishing line. Chubs are not just a lively bait, but with the right equipment, can actually “telegraph” when a fish is in the area. When a Chub senses danger from a predator fish, it begins swimming wildly, alerting you to be ready for a bite.
Tips From “The Chub King”:
Fellow professional walleye angler Dan Stier of Pierre, South Dakota is considered the “Chub King” of professional walleye fishermen. While doing some filming a few years back, we linked up with Dan on South Dakota’s Lake Oahe for a Chub Fishing lesson.
“I’m from the old school” Dan says, “Big bait means big fish”. One of the first things Dan pointed out was that you need to think big when it comes to bait and hooks. Hooking up a 7 inch Chub on a snell with a #2 hook ain’t gonna cut it. “It really depends on the size of the Chub, but for the most part I’ll use as big a bait as I can find, 7 to 10 inches on at least a #1 or maybe even a 1/0 hook to be sure there’s enough gap to get a good hook up in the fish”, Dan explained.
The Right Equipment:
In order to feel everything going on at the end of your line the right equipment is essential. A highly sensitive rod and reel combo is important for any livebait presentation. High quality graphite rods like the Walleye Angler Signature Series HM85 Riggin’ Rods coupled with a spinning reel spooled with no-stretch FireLine is a perfect set-up offering the ultimate in sensitivity. For most rigging situations the 6/2 (6 pound test/2 pound diameter) FireLine works fine. If it’s a case of fishing very clear water or highly pressured fish however a better choice may be 4/1 FireLine (4 pound test with the diameter of 1 pound test mono). Or if you are fishing a body of water known to harbor some truly large fish, and you’d like a little extra insurance against landing one, the 8/3 FireLine may be just the ticket. This will enable you to feel exactly what is going on at the business end of the line at all times and definitely increase your odds for success.
While traditional live bait rigging with spinning tackle is the norm, another good option for presenting these baits is Bottom Bouncer fishing. While many traditional “riggers” may turn their noses up at the thought of “bouncing” for big walleyes, it’s hard to argue with results. Many expert “Chubbers” favor a “one-two punch” approach for presenting Chubs to walleyes. Rig a longer bottom bouncer rod with a 1 to 2 ounce bouncer and a 6 to 10 foot snell, placed in a rod holder and set so that the bouncer is running vertical occasionally ticking the bottom. The 12 foot Walleye Angler Signature Series Deadstick is an ideal rod for this application. Then fish a traditional rigging set-up with a 1/2 ounce weight dragging it out away from the boat and pumping the rod to give it a bit more action. Notice that the rigging rod has more of a horizontal jigging motion while the bottom bouncer fishes with more of a vertical motion. Then it’s just a matter of letting the walleyes tell you which presentation they prefer.
Putting one of these jumbo Creek Chubs in a walleye’s face is a sure bet that you’re going to get bit. Just keep in mind that while we are talking about using these Chubs to tempt fall walleyes, these techniques have been known to produce quality fish all year round. Big Walleyes do like big baits, so hook up a jumbo Creek Chub on your next “Hawg Walleye Hunt” and hang on tight!