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Trolling Perimeter Flats at Night

by In-Fisherman   |  July 26th, 2012 0

Back when our crew of cronies started night-fishing, years went by before we sharpened up. We trolled with original Rapalas, without fail, before we learned to return to areas that concentrated fish, and started casting suspending jerkbaits. Brilliant! It took even longer to learn another important lesson: Spring is not summer, which is not fall. Genius!

Which is to say, the way we stroked walleyes with Rapalas in cold water didn’t translate to summer. Since we were stuck in a rut, sneaking with our Raps at slow speeds at all times, summertime night-fishing often sucked. Autumn with its cold water brought deliverance — the full-force return of the minnowbaits, and of our pride. Sure, the concept of using lures with greater action in warmer water, and lesser action in cooler water, was not entirely foreign. Capt. Cranium, here in Traverse City, Michigan, had read about it in In-Fisherman and heard about it from walleye impresarios Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz.

If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, I’m not letting it happen anymore. Making up for the error of our ways, we not only used common sense but also emptied tackle boxes to find lures that matched the season, without the midsummer night’s comedy of errors. No more lingering in our same shallow-water spring stretches, no more delicate baits, no more exceedingly slow trolling speeds with the electric motor. No m•s, no m•s!

If the flats are where it’s at to start the season, with depths of 5 to 10 feet prevalent, summer walleyes tend to trend a touch deeper in clear-water systems where night-fishing excels. If fishing shallow was once the ticket, move out to the next tier, beyond the break. But when weeds such as cabbage grow on the flats, trolling above the weedtops is often a dynamite pattern (more on that in a moment).

On top of or off the edge, if trolling speeds in excess of 1.0 mph, using a gas outboard motor presents baits in the productive zone with greater control than with a bowmount electric set on full-tilt boogie (which, when I’ve tried it, has had me doing the whirling dervish). Besides, the kicker motor doesn’t seem to disturb the fish. The gas motor also has the gumption to correct your path in a flash if you start to run up too shallow on a sandbar, or if you want to follow a serpentine weededge. Making up for lost time in the trial-and-error department, I’ve tuned in my Mercury 9.9-hp kicker motor to experiment with speed variations of 0.1 mph. Where I fish, 1.6 to 1.7 produces better than do 1.4 mph and 1.8 mph. (Do as I do, not as I did: Try changing lures and speeds until you dial in a program.)

Continued – click on page link below.

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