By Bob & Ginny Riege
I tipped my Pinpoint trolling motor over the side and turned on the Lowrance LMS 110C at my feet and picked up my rod that had a Husky Jerk tied on the line. I tossed out the Husky Jerk into a pocket of open water adjacent to some flooded timber. After the wake settled I dipped my rod tip into the water and made a couple of quick rotations on my reel to get the lure down a couple of feet. Then I stopped and allowed the lure to sit there motionless and start to slowly rise. I twitched the bait and POW; I had a fish on that was about 4 lbs. Moving down the shoreline a little further I did the same thing and again I contacted another fish. The key to this presentation was that I was casting the crankbait instead of trolling the crankbait. The other thing is that I was fishing the skinniest water that I could find where pressurized spring walleyes moved up into water that barely covers their backs. The other part of this presentation is the use of a neutrally buoyant crankbait that will go down to a desired depth and wait there. It acts like a minnow, and the walleyes can’t resist it.
Many anglers consider walleye fishing to be a game of trolling. When the concept of backtrolling was perfected, expert and novice fisherman alike felt that this method was the ideal technique for presenting bait to walleyes. As effective as backtrolling is though, there are still times when casting a bait is the best way to trick a limit of "marble eyes".
Casting works best for walleyes in several situations. When you have the fish pinpointed, a casting presentation can be the best way to keep your bait in the fish’s strike zone. If the fish are on the very tip of a rock point, casting will allow you to put the bait right where the fish are on every cast. If a trolling run was made through those same fish, the lure would be pulled through the school, then you would have to turn around and go back through the fish. The turning around process takes time, and also takes the lure out of the productive fishing zone.
If the walleyes were on a deep point, you could troll until the fish were found, then hover directly overhead. This is where I like to use my Pinpoint Positioning System. This is a combination of a trolling motor that has the transducers for the depthfinders right in the head of the motor. No more need for the use of radiator clamps and hanging wires to get tangled in. The Pinpoint trolling motor will sense that the boat is getting too close and correct itself with a system called bottom tracking. This is great especially if you want to stay in deep water without spooking shallow fish. With bottom track it will steer the boat to the desired depth when you program it to do so.
In shallow water though, a boat hovering directly over the fish will quickly spook them, whereas an anchored boat thirty feet away will create no problem. When casting a shallow area, anchor upwind of the area to be fished. Don't get too close to the area to be worked to prevent spooking the walleyes. After thoroughly casting the spot, let out more anchor rope and drift farther onto the suspected fish holding area, and again tie the anchor rope off. Work this area, let out more anchor rope, and slide farther onto the structure. By moving in this manner, you don't need to start the motor every time a move is necessary. You get to the new anchoring position quickly and quietly.
A casting presentation also allows more experimentation with different styles. If three anglers are fishing from the same boat, one can throw a Fireball jig; one can try a Husky Jerk, while the remaining fisherman can use a slip-bobber. That can't be done while trolling, as it's impractical and almost impossible to effectively use all three lure types at the same time while the boat is moving.
Casting a bait is very effective when the walleyes move into the cabbage weeds. At times, walleyes will locate themselves in the middle of a bed of cabbage. A trolling run through the weeds would only result in snags. By casting a jig or split shot rig into the weeds, snags will be avoided and fish will be caught. You'll still get some hang-ups, but they will be greatly reduced when this casting method into the weeds is employed.
When you’re casting crankbaits for walleyes in the shallows, begin your retrieve with several quick turns of the reel to make the lure dive. Once it strikes the shallow rocks, decrease your retrieve speed. In fact, with the Husky Jerk you might even stop for a few moments and the slowly retrieve the lure.
The lure is constantly in productive water when you cast parallel to a roadbed or riprap. But when you cast perpendicular to it, you’re only in position for a few feet. So, make the majority of your casts parallel to the shoreline and be sure to keep your retrieve speed very slow. This will help you to produce a husky stringer of fish this spring.