In September of 2010, we worked with Gary Parsons of Glidden, Wisconsin, about one of his favorite ways to recreationally fish for walleye. He told us that it revolved around employing Fin-tech Fishing Tackle Company’s 1/16-ounce Nuckle Ball jig dressed with a 2 ½-inch Gulp! Minnow.
He spent a lot of time showing us how, when and where he used it, telling us that he began experimenting with this rig in 2007. Then from 2007 into 2010, it had become such an effective bait for him that he occasionally called it a magic bait. Though it bewitches a big walleye every now and then, it is primarily a tool for inveigling oodles of small and medium-size walleye. In addition, it beguiles scores of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie and northern pike at several of the natural lakes that he plies around his home in north central Wisconsin when he is fishing just for the fun of it. Even though he mainly uses this magic combo in recreational outings, there are spells nowadays when he wields it or a bigger facsimile of it in tournament situations.
We entitled the story “Gary Parsons’ Magic Bait.” It was posted as a blog on Sept. 22, 2011, and here’s the link to it: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2011/09/22/gary-Parsons%E2%80%99-magic-bait/.
In September of 2011, we worked with Parsons and Keith Kavajecz of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, about how they teamed up with Tom Kemos of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and Chase Parsons of Denmark, Wisconsin, to troll bass-style spinnerbaits for walleye through flooded trees at Lake Oahe, South Dakota, during the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour tourney on Aug. 25-27, 2011. Chase Parsons, who is Gary’s son, won this event. We posted a 2,746-word blog about their spinnerbait methods on Oct. 9, 2011, and here’s the link to it: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2011/10/09/trolling-bass-style-spinnerbaits-for-walleye-2/
On Sept.25, 2012, we hooked up Gary and Chase Parsons to work on another blog about jigs and soft-plastic baits. On this endeavor, we spent more time with Chase Parsons than we did with his father. So most of this blog revolves around Chase Parsons’ perspectives about pursing walleye with a jig, and it is highlighted with some insights from his father.
Straightaway, Chase Parsons admitted that he is normally an aggressive angler with a passion for trolling crankbaits at a two-miles-an-hour pace. But in the same breath, he said that he is a versatile angler who has worked with an array of jig combinations at a variety of waterways and environments.
Before Chase Parsons began showing us how, when and where he employs a jig, he said it was necessary to detail the other steps he usually takes before he begins wielding a jig. Therefore, we examined many components of his repertoire, beginning with his favorite, which is trolling.
He explained that when he is confronted with problematic conditions, which can arise from such things as foul weather patterns or too much forage, he will often experiment with several trolling tactics before he opts for other ways to allure walleye. For instance, he will troll slower than two miles per hour. Another tactic entails making a lot of turns as he trolls across a walleye lair. And if those two options do not work, he will try “crashing and crushing crankbaits into the bottom.” Besides those three options, he works with an assortment of other tackle and rigging alternatives for trolling, such as bottom-bouncers with a spinner, bottom-bouncers with a Mustad slow-death-nightcrawler rig, planer boards and a variety of lines. Perhaps a future blog with the Parsons will be a treatise about the many trolling tactics.
If the walleye are tentative and are hemmed into a relatively small lair, which his trolling methods are unable to exploit and adequately penetrate, Chase Parsons is apt to focus on employing a slip-sinker rig and an air-injected nightcrawler (In some waterways and conditions, a leech is more effective than a nightcrawler). He uses his bow-mounted trolling motor to slowly maneuver the boat and rig within the confined area the sullen walleye are inhabiting. In other words, he doesn’t try to cover a vast area. Instead, he pinpoints the exact whereabouts of a significant concentration of tentative and idle walleye. To achieve the best control and feel of his rig, Chase Parsons keeps it nearly vertical and on the bottom. He works with it on a either a six-foot or 6 1/2-foot Bass Pro Shops’ Walleye Angler Signature Series spinning rod (WA60MS and WA66RS). The six-footer possesses a medium power and fast action, and the 6 ½-footer has a fast action with medium-light power. His Bass Pro Shops’ John Morris CarbonLite 500 Spinning Reels are spooled with six-pound-test Berkley FireLine.
A bottom-bouncing rig is another precision method that Chase Parsons will utilizes when he has located a bevy of walleye that are mopish, inhabiting a deep-water lair and are not moseying around a lot. He usually employs a rig that ranges in size from 1 ½ ounces to 2 ½ ounces, and he will opt for a three-ounce rig if he has to probe lairs that lie in more than 30 feet of water. The rig’s snell is normally six-feet in length and it consist of eight-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and a live-bait hook. He baits the hook with a nightcrawler, leech or creek chub, and the size of the hook is dictated by the size of the bait. He uses his bow-mounted electric trolling motor and sonar devices to pinpoint the exact location of the walleye. Once he locates the walleye, he presents the bottom-bouncing rig vertically with its leg barely touching the bottom. His bottom-bouncing rod is a either a 6 ½-foot or seven-foot Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Signature baitcast rod (WA66BBT or WA70BBT). Both rods are endowed with medium power and fact action. The reel is spooled with 10-pound-test Berkley FireLine.
Another vertical and live-bait option for Chase Parsons revolves around dressing a jig with a creek chub. In fact, during the first week of October of 2012, his father created a feature story for “The Next Bite’s” 2013 television season about how-to catch walleye on a jig and creek chub.
If the walleye inhabit shallow-water lairs that are difficult to troll across, Chase Parsons has been known to spend some time casting and retrieving a Berkley Flicker Shad, which he employs on a seven-foot Walleye Angler Series Spinning Rod (WA70MLS-CRANK). This rod possesses a fast action, and its power factor is medium-light. His Bass Pro Shops’ John Morris CarbonLite 500 Spinning Reel is usually spooled with 10-pound-test Berkley FireLine in a smoke hue. He wields this crankbait around shallow rock piles and submergent vegetation. When he works these shallow lairs with a crankbait, he will often have another spinning rod at his ready that sports a jig dressed with a soft-plastic bait, and this outfit will be spooled with six-pound-test Berkley FireLine.
When chubs and fathead minnows aren’t available or when live bait is not necessary or when it is not allowed, Chase Parsons dresses his jigs with a variety of soft-plastic baits, such as a four-inch Berkley Gulp! Crawler, 2 ½-, three- and four-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnows, four-inch Berkley Gulp!Ripple Shad, five-inch Berkley Powerbait Jerk Shad, and Berkley Gulp! 4” Crawlers. Chase and Gary Parsons note that presenting a jig tipped with either live bait or a soft-plastic bait to a walleye is different than employing a slip-sinker or bottom-bouncing rig that is dressed with a nightcrawler, leech or creek chub. The movement of the live bait on the bottom-bouncer or slip-sinker rig is what bewitches the walleye. A jig requires the angler to impart an alluring action to provoke the walleye to inhale it.
It is interesting to note that Chase Parsons’ father used to dress his lightweight jigs with fathead minnows, but once he discovered the effectiveness of the 2 ½-inch Gulp! Minnow, Gary Parsons hasn’t used a fathead minnow on his lightweight jigs for several years. In fact, when Gary Parsons is fishing around patches of submergent vegetation in the natural lakes in north central Wisconsin, he has found that it is easier and more efficient to use a 2 ½-inch Gulp! Minnow than a lively fathead minnow. Gary Parsons says that when a 2 ½-inch Gulp! Minnow in either a smelt or emerald shiner hue is affixed to a jig, it looks like a fathead minnow, and it is five times more durable and alluring than the real fathead minnow.
Unlike the bottom-bouncer and slip-sinker rig, Gary Parsons says a jig is a very versatile device. It can be used as a search bait for walleyes that are active and not cloistered in a difficult to reach lair. Besides casting and retrieving jigs around relatively shallow lairs, Chase and Gary Parson present them vertically in rivers and current situations, as well as around deep-water lairs in reservoirs and natural lakes. What’s more, both Parsons will even “slow-troll jigs” at times in order to quickly explore a vast area on which the walleye are widely scattered.
Chase Parsons’ rule of thumb about what size jig to employ revolves around which jig allows him to feel its every move as it courses through patches of emergent vegetation, submergent vegetation and across various bottom terrains. In sum, feel is a critical element in his jig-fishing formula. Consequently, he will wield a 1/16-ounce jig only when the wind isn’t blowing and the walleye are abiding along shorelines and in water shallower than 10 feet. Even though Chase Parsons considers his forte to be trolling, it is fascinating to note his father said in September of 2010 that his sons’ prowess with wielding a 1/16-ounce Fin-tech Nuckle Ball Jig dressed with a 2 ½-inch Berkeley Gulp Minnow is matchless.
Day in and day out, when he is casting and retrieving a jig combo, Chase Parsons prefers to use an eighth-ounce jig. He will ply it across lairs that lie in water as deep as 15 feet. And during those times that he is confronted with current situations, such as on a river, he will often utilize an eighth-ounce jig with a vertical presentation in 10 feet of water.
Chase Parsons uses what he calls “a lift-pause-and-drop retrieve” when he is casting and retrieving an eighth-ounce jig. He has found that 80 percent of the strikes occur as the jig glides back to the bottom. If he is casting and retrieving a jig in crystal-clear waterways, Chase Parsons will work with six-pound-test monofilament line, such as Trilene Sensation. In stained water, he opts for six-pound-test Berkley FireLine. The rod he uses is a six-foot, medium-light power, fast-action Bass Pro Shops’ Walleye Angler Signature Series spinning rod (WA60ML-HM85).
When Chase Parsons is casting a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig combo around rocky lairs, his retrieve is a fast-paced one. It is executed by quickly lifting his rod from the 10:30 o’clock to the 12:00 positions. Then he pauses and allows the jig combo to glide to the bottom. As jig combo hits the bottom, he drops the rod back to the 10:30 position and executes another lift-pause-and-drop sequence. He says the walleye normally inhale the jig as it glides back to the bottom or when it hits the bottom. Because of the swiftness of his retrieve, it allows Parsons to quickly probe wide expanses of a rocky terrain. Chase and Gary Parsons call this method power fishing with finesse, and traditionally they use it in the spring during the pre-spawn, spawn or post-spawn.
In the summer, when the water temperature climbs into the 70s, a substantial number of walleye in natural lakes inhabit patches of submergent vegetation (such as coontail, cabomba, eel grass and cabbage) that are adjacent to a significant drop-off. In natural lakes that are stained with a tannic hue, the outside edges of a vegetation patch normally reach a depth of eight feet. And Chase and Gary Parsons have discovered that eight feet an ideal depth for employing a 1/16-ounce jig and 2 ½-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnow. If the vegetation is dense, they probe only the outside edges of the patches of vegetation. If the patches of submergent vegetation are not dense, then Parsons focus is on the edges around pockets, holes and seams within the patches of vegetation, as well as the outside edges and inside edges.
To allure the walleye from the vegetation, Chase Parsons casts the 1/16-ounce jig and 2 ½-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnow to the edge of the vegetation. He retrieves it so that it glides downward along the edge of the vegetation. If the jig combo drops on a piece of vegetation, he vigorously lifts his rod from the 10:30 o’clock position to the 12:00 position, and then he allows the jig combo to continue its downward glide. As the jigs glides towards the bottom, Chase Parsons slowly drops his rod to the 10:30 position. Once it reaches the bottom, he briskly lifts the rod from 10:30 o’clock to 12:00 and then allows the combo to glide back to the bottom. If he doesn’t catch a walleye on that glide to the bottom, he quickly executes several more lift-and-glide routines before he makes another cast.
Chase Parsons calls a 1/4-ounce jig his “bread-and-butter one.” He says that he primarily fishes it with a vertical presentation. And he employs it more often in rivers than he does in reservoirs and natural lakes. Where the current is stiff on sections of the Missouri River, he will ply lairs as shallow as five feet with a 1/4-ounce jig. At river locations where the current is slight, he will probe depths as deep as 20 feet with it. In reservoirs and natural lakes, Chase Parsons classified the 1/4-ouncer as his “go-to jig” whenever he is plying a long and sharp break line and confronted with windy conditions.
Even though the slip-sinker and bottom-bouncing rigs are the main tools that Chase and Gary Parsons employ when the walleye are displaying a negative or tentative disposition, the Parsons have found that a 1/4-ounce jig that is presented subtly and vertically can at times allure some of those hesitant and wary walleye as effectively as the slip-sinker and bottom-bouncing rigs do.
Chase Parsons’ vertical presentation with a jig is accomplished by using his bow-mounted electric trolling motor to maneuver his boat around the lair he is probing. When possible he works with two rods, and his vertical presentation is enhanced by a series of lift-pause-and-drop routines. Whenever his sonar units pinpoint what looks to be a walleye, he uses the trolling motor to hover over that specimen, and then he attempts to coax it into engulfing one of his jig combos by executing the lift-pause-and-drop presentation. Chase Parsons finds that most walleye strikes occur as the jig drops towards the bottom after the pause phase. When a walleye engulfs one of Chase Parsons’ jigs, he always sets the hook robustly.
Throughout his discourse on jigs, Chase Parsons frequently emphasized that it is essential to execute a vertical presentation in current situations. Therefore, when the wind howls and the current is speedy, he finds that he has to work with a 3/8-ounce jig rather than the 1/4-ounce one. What’s more, on waterways such as the Detroit River, where the current can course at a clip of five miles per hour and the wind can be pesky, Chase Parsons will even opt for a 1/2-ounce jig. He also elects to work with the 1/2-ounce jig when he is probing reservoir and natural lake lairs that lie in 30 feet or more of water.
Even though Chase Parsons venerates the manifold virtues of employing a vertical presentation with a jig, he — as all talented anglers do — finds there are times when it is necessary to utilize other jig tactics. Here are three of the alternatives that Chase Parsons utilizes.
One of those times was detailed above, and it focuses on how he and his father cast and retrieve a 1/16-ounce jig and 2 ½-inch Berkley Gulp Minnow around shallow rocky lairs and relatively shallow submergent vegetation on natural lakes. The second one occurs on rivers, which is when Chase Parsons employs either a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig that is dressed with a half of a nightcrawler, and he drags it behind the boat. To execute this method, he makes a long cast with the jig-and-short-crawler, tossing it behind his boat, and then he allows the jig to bump along the bottom as his boat moves downstream with the current. Of course, if the bottom of the river is littered with snags, the drag motif is not a practical alternative. It is essential to note that in order to be versatile and cover more than one piscatorial base, Chase Parsons will also employ another rod that sports a jig and soft-plastic bait, such as a Berkley Gulp! Minnow, and this one will be employed with a vertical presentation. He will hold the vertical presentation rod in his hand, implementing the lift-pause-and-drop, and the dragging rod will be fitted into a rod holder. The third one is called jig trolling, which Chase Parsons employs when the walleye are widely scattered across a flat and are reluctant to strike a crankbait and various spinnerbaits that are trolled across and around their lairs. He implements it by using his bow-mounted trolling motor to move the boat around and across a walleye lair at a 1/3-mph to a 1/2-mph pace. Instead of presenting the jig vertically, Chase Parsons bounces it on the bottom at a 45-degree angle behind him. A 3/8-ounce jig is his primary tool for jig trolling, but there can be spells when he uses a 1/4- and 1/2-ounce jigs.
Throughout his discourse on jig procedures, Chase Parson noted that his Bass Pro Shops’ John Morris CarbonLite 500 Spinning Reel is filled with six-pound-test Berkley FireLine. The only exception occurs when he is casting and retrieving a 1/16-ounce jig in crystal-clear waterways.
One of the most unusual soft-plastic dressings that Chase and Gary Parsons apply to a jig is what they call “a double-tail setup.” They do this in order to create a larger profile in stained-water situations. To accomplish this task, they affix two three-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnows to either a 3/8-ounce Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye Jig or 3/8-ounce Fin-tech Nuckle Ball Jig. One of the Minnows is threaded onto the jig and its head is fitted snuggly on the jig’s collar. The second Minnow is cut in half. The cut is made at a 45-degree angle, and the angle of this cut on the second Minnow allows the Parsons to place the hook through the tip of that 45-degree cut, which is similar to hooking a minnow through the lips. The double rigging will work on a 1/2 –ounce jig, too, but the Parsons rarely use it with a 1/4-ounce jig. For an illustration of this rigging see: http://www.thenextbite.com/node/11989
It wasn’t until the practice session before that National Guard FLW Walleye Tour returned to Lake Oahe on July 12-14, 2012, that Chase Parsons wielded his first 3/4-ounce jig. He said that at times that 3/4-ouncer felt as if he had tied a bowling ball tied to his six-foot Bass Pro Shops’ Walleye Signature Series Rod Angler Rod (WA60ML-HM85) and six-pound-test Berkley FireLine.
Before this tournament began, many knowledgeable observers thought that Chase Parsons, Gary Parsons, Keith Kavajecz, and Tom Kemos would troll bass-styled spinnerbaits at Lake Oahe as they did in 2011. But Chase Parsons said there were too many other anglers employing that method this year. Therefore, this foursome looked for another way to catch Lake Oahe’s walleye. Ultimately, they uncovered a pattern that looked to be much more fruitful than the spinnerbait method that they developed in 2011.
It was a two-part pattern. The first one was a pattern that some salmon anglers discovered and Gary Parsons got wind of before the tournament started. The other pattern was an extremely deep-water one discovered by Kavajecz. Then as the practice and tournament days unfolded, all four of them fine-tuned both patterns. On the second day of the tournament, Gary Parson said that his son “put on a clinic on how to catch big walleye on a jig in deep water.”
It was the deepest water from which this foursome had ever extracted a walleye. Until Kavajecz discovered this deep-water pattern, Gary Parsons said that the deepest water that he can remember catching a walleye occurred at a Lake Oahe tournament in 1996. During that 1996 event, he caught walleye in 55 to 72 feet of water, and the biggest walleye came out of depth of 55 feet.
The deep-water lairs that Kavajecz discovered sat within a 30-foot radius of the seven intake control towers at Lake Oahe’s dam. The towers sit about 100 yards from the face of the dam. On July 12-14, 2012, the intake towers sat in 82 feet of water. These towers contain valves that regulate the water flow into the tunnels that carry water under the dam to the power plant. When the power plant generates electricity, significant numbers of walleye and salmon forage upon smelt around the various seams of the current that flows into the intake towers. As the current flows, some of the walleye suspend in 20 feet of water adjacent to the intake towers, others suspend in 40 and 50 feet of water, and others abide near or on the bottom in 80 of water. According to Gary Parsons, the salmon anglers were the ones who serendipitously discovered the whereabouts of suspended walleye around the intake towers as they were trolling for salmon.
On the first day of practice, Gary Parsons ventured to the dam. And when the current was coursing into the intake towers, he caught walleye by employing three baits: a spoon, a 1/2-ounce Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye Jig dressed with a five-inch, white-pearl Bass Pro Shops Shadee Shad and a 1/2-ounce Fin-tech Nuckle Ball jig dressed with a five-inch, pearl-white Berkley Gulp! Jerk Shad. The current was similar to a whirlpool, and at spots around the intake towers it was so intense that it fouled the images on the sonar units, making it impossible to see the walleye that were suspended and foraging on smelt. What’s more, the current was so powerful that it sucked some of Gary Parsons baits’ into the steel grates that cover the intake tunnels and broke his line. During this practice session, when the current was flowing, he worked around the perimeters of the seven intake towers, experimenting with different depths. For example, he would test the depth of 20 to 30 feet for 10 minutes, 30 to 40 feet for another 10 minutes, 40 to 50 feet for 10 minutes, and he did that 10-minute sequence until he reached the bottom. Most of the walleye that he caught were around the bottom in 80 to 82 feet of water, but he caught some suspended walleye in 35 to 60 feet of water.
When the dam wasn’t generating electricity, the suspended walleye were difficult to locate and coax into biting. In fact, Chase Parsons said that “the suspended walleye seemed to vanish once the current didn’t flow.” Eventually, Kavajecz discovered the whereabouts of some catchable walleye when the current had ceased to flow, and they were big ones. He found them abiding on the bottom in 80 to 82 feet of water. Some of them were near the intake tours and some were 30 yards away from the towers.
During the entire tournament, Kavajecz, Kemos and both Parsons fished the intake towers and some neighboring deep-water lairs.
When water was gushing into the intake towers, this foursome targeted the suspended walleye around the intakes, as well as the ones that were situated on the bottom. One of the most productive areas that Chase Parsons located was below the tunnels on each of the intake towers. One of the problems, however, with plying these locales was that the current was so forceful that it could carry his jig combo into the tunnel, where it would become snagged on the grate that covered the opening to the tunnel. But when Chase Parsons got his jig combos below the tunnel and its grate, the current was minimal, making it a refuge in which the walleye could escape from the torrents that flowed above them.
If the water wasn’t coursing into the intake towers, the foursome explored the surrounding area with their sonar units, looking for aggregations of fish on or near the bottom. They located substantial numbers of big walleye inhabiting 80 to 82 feet of water and caught an impressive array of them. In fact, Gary Parson caught one that measured 28 inches in length. Furthermore, Chase Parsons and his co-anglers caught 25 walleye that were longer than 20 inches during the first two days of the tournament.
Throughout the tournament, their spinning outfits sported 3/4-ounce Fin-tech Nuckle Ball Zone-R in either chartreuse or orange hues. Their jigs were dressed with either five-inch, pearl-white Berkley Gulp! Jerk Shad or five-inch, white-pearl Bass Pro Shops Shadee Shad. According Chase Parsons, the Fin-tech Nuckle Ball Zone-R works extremely efficiently deep-water and current areas.
Besides Kavajecz, Kemos and both Parsons, there were another 20 boats of tournament competitors plying the area surrounding the intake towers. Some were trolling and a few were pinpointing the suspended walleye around the intake towers. None of them, except Kavajecz, Kemos and both Parsons were fishing on the bottom in 80 to 82 feet of water. For example, Jason Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, who garnered third-place honors, focused on the suspended walleye in 40 feet of water around the intake towers, and he caught the suspended walleye by using 3/8-ounce and 1/2-ounce jigs that were dressed with Berkley Gulp! Minnows. After the current ceased to flow, Przekurat didn’t ply the deep-water lairs that Kavajecz, Kemos and the Parsons focused on. Instead he went elsewhere and used a Berkley Gulp! 4” Crawler affixed to a jig and focused on finding some 18- and 19-inch walleye.
Throughout the entire tournament, Chase Parsons had a rod in both hands. He presented his 3/4-ounce jig combos by holding the rods at the nine o’clock position and parallel to the lake’s surface. From that position, he would keep the rods parallel to the lake’s surface and lift the rods and his arms with what he called a pop. The lift was slight less than shoulder high. At the top of the pop or lift, he executed a two- to 10- second pause. During some lifts, he did a double pop or a series of shakes. He found that most strikes occurred during the two- to 10-second pauses. On two occasions, he simultaneously caught a walleye on the rod in his left hand and another walleye on the rod in his right hand. He was also astonished by the forcefulness of the strikes that the deep-water walleye rendered. In fact, several strikes were so violent that they created a substantial amount of slack in the line between the surface of the water and the tip of his rod.
Even though Chase Parsons and his co-anglers caught an impressive assortment of big walleye, it didn’t put their names at the top of the leader board. The problem that bedeviled them revolved around the fact that this was a slot-limit tournament. Therefore, he and his co-angler could weigh in only two walleye that were 20-inch or bigger per day. In order to win it, Chase Parsons and his partners needed to catch two 25- to 27-inch walleye and three 19-inch walleye each tournament day. Though they tangled plenty of big walleye, they could not catch enough 19-inchers or even 18-inchers. What’s more, culling was not allowed. Therefore, if Chase Parsons and his co-angler caught two five-pound walleye and elected to put them in the livewell, they could not release those two five-pound walleye if they subsequently caught two six- or seven-pounders.
According Gary Parsons, stringent slot, possession and culling rules introduce an element of luck in tournaments. At this FLW event, these rules confounded Kavajecz, Kemos and both of the Parsons. For instance, Kavajecz finished in 67th place, Chase Parsons finished in 50th place, Gary Parsons finished in 19th place and Tom Kemos finished in 12th place. But if the AIM Pro Walleye Series Catch-Record-Release format had been used at this FLW event, Gary Parsons suspected that all four of them would have finished in the top ten. From Gary Parsons’ perspective, AIM’s Catch-Record-Release format reduces the luck component, and that is because slot, possession and culling rules are not a factor.
It is interesting to note that John Campbell of Marco Island, Florida, won the tournament, and Eric Ewing of La Salle, Colorado, finished in second place. Both of these anglers emulated the 2011 methods of Kavajecz, Kemos and the Parsons by trolling bass-style spinnerbaits in the flooded timber sections of Lake Oahe.
In addition to this foursome’s inability to catch walleye that were less than 20 inches, they also battled the effects of barotrauma on the deep-water walleye that they caught. Barotrauma is a byproduct of extracting walleye out of 80 and 82 feet of water at too fast of a pace. It can affect a walleye’s internal organs, such as it gall bladder and air bladder, as well as its eyes, blood vessels, and other tissues. Chase Parsons, Gary Parsons, Kavajecz and Kemos attempted to alleviate some of the effects of barotrauma by taking three minutes to bring each deep-water walleye they hooked to the surface. They also gently released each walleye and made sure its head was pointed down when they released it. After they released each walleye, they examined their sonar units as each walleye descended to the bottom, and all of the ones they released made it back to the bottom.
Years ago when Bob Propst Sr. of Pierre, South Dakota, was one of Gary Parsons’ walleye mentors, Propst used to him: “If you can catch big walleye at depths of say 30 feet, you need to fish 20 feet deeper, and you will catch even bigger ones.” Back then Gary Parsons never thought that he would ever catch walleye in 80 feet of water.