Opening Line-Up

By Googlyeyed Guide (Andy Walsh)

The fishing opener has finally arrived, and we all know what that means! Yes, that’s right, walleyes topside without drilling holes! Here is my opening line up, for the opener and beyond. These tactics will work from opener all the way through until the nighttime fishing ban takes effect on Mille Lacs. And then can be applied to most other waters in the area. A tactic that I look forward to every opening night is the old-fashioned stealth troll with stick baits. I opened on my home water, Mille Lacs and I want to share with you my “home opening” line up.

Opening night, I’m on the water around 11 pm. During that time, I’m scanning with side imaging and marking rock structures. Creating a trolling line for the witching hour of 12 am. Headlamps for everyone, and when you think you brought enough, bring more. Take the time before midnight to make sure your rods of choice is ready. Try to limit what you have out at this time for rods as Tuned Up has a great warranty, however human error of stepping on the spine of your favorite custom cuts deep into all our hearts. Rubber nets for quick capture and quick removal of the hooks are a must. Running Line counter setups are nice and keeps things consistent, However, in this situation just bringing out an Apex or an Apex Elite Medium extra-fast set up will work perfectly. I say this because in this situation at night the walleyes are usually on top of the shallow rock and sand structures. I fish in about 5-12 foot of water all night. I like to be as quiet as possible. Using the trolling motor most of the time, running 1.4 to 1.7 MPH. If the wind is traveling Parallel with the rock structure, I will troll with the wind. (Takes less power and is quieter when my trolling motor is working less). I pair my Tuned Up Custom Rods with a 2500 series reel with braid. At the end I run a swivel with 3 feet of fluorocarbon line, followed with a snap for quick changing lures. Custom rods come at a premium, but for a reason. An angler can head out with one rod in this situation and fish multiple presentations.

Like I was saying, I will make a long cast back and that’s it. I like to pair my set up with Salmo’s Rattlin’ Stings. They seem to be perfect profile size, sound, and colors. Also, the kicker is the fact that they suspend so well during moments when I pause the boat, make a turn, or during the swooping motions I make; the stings will hang in the target depth, giving more of a window for strikes. A lot of times that’s when the walleyes will hammer the bait. Back to the “swooping”. When trolling in this presentation a night, stealthy, I like to add the Swooping Cadence. That just me, speeding up and pausing the bait with the rod as we keep a consistent speed with the trolling motor. This, more times than none, helps produce strikes. Adding a responsive rod with a responsive bait keeps the angler’s confidence where it needs to be. There’s no guessing hook foul-ups, weeds or zebras on the hook, and fish strikes, Keeping you in the zone longer.

When daytime comes and the walleyes move deeper, you can use the same setup and slap on a fireball with meat and jig over the side or you can pitch plastics. All in one set up per se. You can fish multiple ways and not need a separate rod for each. This works nicely economically and saves space when the boat is full of friends and family on this sacred day. When high noon hits and the eyes slow down. Head back to shallows and cast out those stings with the Apex for some smallmouth fun! Be safe out there and as always, “Make every drop count!” –Googlyeyed Guide (Andy Walsh)

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