HOW LIGHT INTENSITY IMPACTS WALLEYE FISHING There are many factors that walleye anglers need to consider when they hit the water in pursuit of walleye.
the eye shine we see when light falls on a fish in the water or on our line. This organ captures all available light in the environment and allows the creature to harness that light to enhance their vision capabilities. This is the same organ found in mammals, such as deer, dogs and other organisms that are known for their eye shine.
There are many factors that walleye anglers need to consider when they hit the water. Anglers are constantly looking at factors such as wind direction, wind speed, cloud cover, temperature and water clarity to dictate where and how they should target fish. Whether you are discussing wind, clouds or water clarity, they all factor into one topic: light intensity. Walleyes are famous for their low light vision capabilities. They’re equipped with more rods than cones in their eyes and most famously their tapetum lucidum. This is the organ responsible for
Walleyes are adequately equipped to feed at all times of the day, but they are most active during twilight periods. This is because their prey is still active, but their vision capabilities are quickly fading. This makes them vulnerable to attacks from walleyes. Indeed, there are lakes that are known for an outstanding night bite and there are other rivers and reservoirs where you can catch fish all day long. The ability to target fish at different waterbodies is one of the aspects that makes walleye fishing so exciting.
intensity is important “ Light to walleyes for two reasons: comfort and foraging. — DANNY COYNE, BCFISHN.COM
Light intensity is important to walleyes for two reasons: comfort and foraging. Increased light intensity can make walleyes, particularly larger walleyes, uncomfortable and drive them to deeper water or shaded areas to become more comfortable. Decreased light intensity allows them to utilize their vision capabilities to give them the edge
over their prey, triggering feeding. Light intensity impacts anglers every time they hit the water, whether they know it or not. Many anglers, particularly anglers fishing from shore, will focus their fishing efforts around sunrise or sunset. During this twilight period, walleyes are often most active and utilizing their low light capabilities on prey. In addition to when anglers fish, anglers are often looking for where the wind is creating a “walleye chop” or dictating what waterbody they fish based on its water clarity. Photoperiod The first, and arguably most important factor in light intensity, is photoperiod. Photoperiod is how long the days are based on the length of the light. This will stay consistent all year long and not be impacted by weather conditions or other factors. Photoperiod is a major driving factor in spawning activity, as well as other major natural activities such as bird migrations, the rut in deer and even vegetation growth. On a more specific level, photoperiod can also dictate bite windows on an individual day. In fact, these specific bite windows are often most visible in trophy caliber fish. These patterns will emerge on rivers, reservoirs and lakes of all sizes. Walleyes, particularly large walleyes, are creatures of habit. They often become active when light conditions reach levels MORE ARTICLES BY HARRINGTON
they are both comfortable and equipped to forage in and they will often have a short, intense bite window in which they are seeking large meals.
POD: DOWNRIGGER FISHING
Photoperiod can be used to dial in bites over a calendar year and also on a day-to-day level. As mentioned above, photoperiod is a major driving force in both spawning and seasonal movements of fish. While weather and water conditions, particularly water temperature, can have an influence on these activities, you can have a rough idea at approximately what time you should be looking for fish and where. Once you’ve determined where fish are and what they are doing, you can now start dialing in your bite on a daily basis. Stable weather conditions are when these patterns most emerge. Major environmental changes such as fronts, cloud cover, wind storms or runoff can impact these patterns on a day-to-day level, although they can still take place on a reduced level. However, when conditions are stable, you may be able to dial in a bite down to the minute. Walleye Chop Whether you’re a new walleye angler or a seasoned veteran, you’ve likely heard the term “walleye chop.” Walleye chop is the wave action created by wind. This is an important aspect for walleye fishing because these waves will break up light penetration, keeping the depths below dark and thus more comfortable and advantageous for walleye to forage.
The mechanics of this are simple. In calm conditions, sunlight will be able to penetrate to greater depths in the water column. These brighter conditions can drive walleyes, particularly large walleyes, deeper and put them in a more negative mood when it comes
On Ep. 7 of the WAO Podcast pres. by Harrod Outdoors & Mack’s Lure, Richy, Bob and Britton discuss winter kokanee fishing tips and tactics, including ice fishing, jigging, trolling and more.
to foraging. In these conditions, their forage such as perch, shad or shiners will have greater vision capabilities and will largely be able to forage without fear. Walleyes will choose to relax in a more comfortable environment and wait for light conditions to decrease. When the wind blows and the waves begin to rock, the wave action will refract sunlight and decrease the depth and intensity that light can penetrate into the water column. The greater the wave action, the less the sunlight can penetrate. Even on bright, sunny days, significant wave action can keep light conditions below the surface relatively dark and, in turn, more comfortable for walleyes. On days with an abundance of walleye chop, walleyes may take advantage of their vision capabilities and forage all day long. In addition to breaking up light penetration, waves will also stir up sediment on the shoreline that will become dispersed in the water column. This will cause mudlines along the windblown shorelines and further dark the water column. It is no secret that fishing along windblown shorelines or structures is often quite productive. This is because aquatic invertebrates or bugs that float helpless in the water column will be pushed onto these areas. Juvenile fish and other baitfish will move onto these areas to feed on these invertebrates. Walleye will follow these baitfish and take advantage of the decreased light conditions to stay comfortable and effectively feed all day long. Water Clarity The final factor in light penetration is water clarity. The clearer the water, the
further the light can penetrate. As zebra mussels move across the walleye belt, water clarity continues to becomes an even more important topic in the sport of walleye fishing. Zebra mussels are filter feeders. They filter plankton out of the water and reproduce at intense rates. When you combine their ability to establish a large population and filter vast amounts of water, it doesn’t take long for a newly invested zebra mussel waterbody to become very clear. In addition to making the water clearer, they also reduce plankton populations available for juvenile fish and other native species. Water clarity impacts walleye anglers’ fishing in a variety of ways. The first is light penetration. The clearer the water, the fewer particles there are to break up light penetration. Dirtier water lakes will naturally reduce light penetration regardless of wave action or other factors. Anglers who are fortunate to have multiple good fisheries near them may pick and choose what lake they wish to fish based on light conditions. Clear water fisheries are often best for targeting in twilight conditions, when the waves are rolling or on overcast days. Dirtier water fisheries are often best for targeting in bright conditions and can often produce in the middle of the day. The second factor is weed growth. Many classic zebra mussel fisheries will exhibit submerged weed growth in as much as 20- to 25-feet deep. As mentioned above, the clearer the water, the deeper the light penetrates. The deeper the light penetrates, the deeper weeds can grow. If there is adequate light, plants can carry out photosynthesis
and grow to deeper and deeper depths. Clear water fisheries are likely to have an abundance of submerged vegetation. This is vegetation growing beneath the water’s surface. The clearer the water, the deeper that vegetation can be found. These lakes often present excellent weedline bites at any time of the year. If the weeds are green, there will likely be forage and, in turn, walleyes not far away. Dirtier water fisheries are likely to have more emerged vegetation as opposed to submerged vegetation. This is because the dirty water prevents sunlight from penetrating through the water column and submerged plants are unable to carry out photosynthesis. This forces the plants to break through, or emerge, from the water to reach the sunlight they need. These fisheries are often adequate weedlines to hold fish and are more likely to have basin or mud flats that hold the most fish.
HARROD: ANDERSON RANCH KOKANEE Idaho may not be the first place that comes to mind for trophy size Kokanee, but the Gem State harbors some hidden silver. Bob and Robin Shindelar have been enjoying the fishing in southern Idaho for many years and Anderson Ranch Reservoir has become one of their favorite Kokanee hotspots. The Shindelar’s invited Rich Harrod and Bob Loomis to join them to explore this fishery.
Light intensity is a factor that impacts anglers every time they hit the water, but the most successful anglers are the ones that can understand its impact on fish. Before you hit the water, consider how the light conditions will impact the fish. Understanding the impact light intensity has in the waterbody you’re fishing will help you catch more fish throughout the course of a season.
SBF TIPS & TECHNIQUES
COSMETICS & LURES BY PETE ROSKO
SBF TECH GUIDE
The cosmetics industry is big business in keeping the world’s population attractive. Cosmetics also play a very important part in
creating attractive lures. But, as with human beings, it’s only superficial. What really matters is what’s deeper. Over the long haul, different types of marriages are made, and broken, by the composition of their inner core. Half of my 84 years have been dedicated to designing a variety of fishing lures. My passion evolved to creating metal jigs because they were the only lure I needed to consistently and effectively catch a large variety of fish across North America. The first was the Crippled Herring and ended with the Sonic BaitFish™ (SBF) which is manufactured by Mack’s Lure. Prior to the creation of the Crippled Herring, metal jigs were composed of different metals that did not resemble a baitfish or much of anything else. They were unceremoniously referred to as tins and slabs. The Crippled Herring not only was the first lure to revolutionize the metal jig industry, mechanically, it also evolved into a real baitfish look (a Pacific Herring). Even its name was descriptive of its action. Like most inventors, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the metal jigs that I was competing against at the time. 3
The lure that most intrigued me was the “Buzz Bomb.” It was manufactured in British Columbia. It was an elongated, triangular body with a line-through-body design. The line, or leader, was never directly attached to the lure as with all other metal jigs. The leader, after passing through the tube inside its body, finally attached to a loose treble hook at its end. This permitted the body to free-spin on a 360-degree axis, thereby creating fish-attracting hydrosonic vibrations. It was deadly for fish in shallower water. One of the drawbacks with this line-through concept is that you lost the lure if a fish bit through your leader. My idea, at the time, was to achieve the same sonic action as the Buzz Bomb by tying directly to the Crippled Herring. About that same time in the Upper Midwest there was another jig, the “Swedish Pimple,” that caught my interest. It was not for the lure’s action, but it was for its red plastic tail attractor in the shape of a spinner blade. It worked fine until its weak compostiion was torn off by a strike. As a result of the plastic flipper, the Crippled Herring also became the first metal jig to attach a metal Indiana-style spinner blade to its tail for strength, extra flash and vibration, especially for casting and trolling. Later in this article, I will explain why a swivel is not used in attaching a blade to the jig.
Historically, designing a metal jig, with the ability to ‘hit on all eight cylinders,’ is one of the most difficult achievements in developing
WATCH: JIGGING UP WALLEYE
Learn the basics of vertical jigging for big, winter walleye on Banks Lake with JRod Rodrigues and his daughter, Haley, being guided by well known local angler, Eric Braaten. Sonic BaitFish with Mack’s Lure scents are the hot jigs in a shallow bay loaded with baitfish and walleye.
a versatile and multi-species fishing lure. In retrospect, a touch of insanity would be justified in its attempt. Just observe an injured baitfish, like a Pacific herring, that has so many different, subtle and more observable movements as it attempts to compenstate for surviving with its injury. All it takes is for one of these subtle, erratic actions, designed into the jig, to immediately turn a dead bite back on. The basic action of a metal jig include darting, fluttering, suspending and gliding. Conversely, a spinner blade’s mechanics are very simple that leads to its ease in designing a lure. A blade has only two basic actions. It rotates forward and flutters downward. Every lure-type that I have created has been geared towards “ease of use.” This means that anyone that can hold a rod can catch fish with it. Every critical action, necessary to cause a fish to strike, is engineered into the Kandlefish and Sonic BaitFish™. These are finesse-type metal jigs that require little rod action for the lure to come alive. I compare them to hunting with a loaded gun by locating your target species first before unloading your lure on it. These lures have the potential to be the very best fish catchers that you will ever use! Fishing blindly produces poor results.
Educate yourself relative to what you are fishing for and where. It is important to have access to good technical information in order to expand your product knowledge and fish with lures that give you a distinct advantage in catching fish. Every lure that I have created also have information available for that lure. For Sonic BaitFish™ tips, download the Sonic BaitFish™ Tech Guide. With the Crippled Herring, I was never able to get that “8th cylinder” in duplicating the sonic action of the Buzz Bomb. But, that was a blessing in disguise. There are times when a jumping fish will dislodge a lure that snags on the retrieving line. This is especially true with salmon, smallmouth bass, tarpon and snook, which coincidentally were fond of striking the Crippled Herring. Retrieving a lure, coming in sideways, creates vibration. Witnessing a vibrating snagged jig, being followed by a small school of mature salmon, was critical in my approach to oscillation. That was my impetus to switch my thinking about the best type of vibration to catch fish. Years later, my results showed that linear (sideways) vibration proved to catch more fish that rotary vibration. A rotating rail blade attracted fewer strikes than one with a different oscillation pattern. It was
much trickier to finally engineer that into the Sonic BaitFish™. Once that was solved, the Kandlefish and Sonic BaitFish™ became truly unique in that this vibrating pattern works whether your line/snap is attached to its nose, tail or top of its back. Success! After so many years attempting to achieve “effective oscillation,” we knew that was finally achieved, one April day, off a South Florida bridge. For almost four prior years, the 3/4 oz. chrome Crippled Herring had been catching a large number of snook off the fishing catwalk under that bridge. Mind you, snook are highly-sought Florida gamefish with a very discerning eye and not easy to fool. The culmination of three extraordinary occurrences were recorded for the records. They were as follows: 1) At no time during daylight did we ever see a single snook caught by other anglers fishing with a variety of live baitfish that were perferred by snook; 2) On a total of 63 trips, we were skunked only five times. During those five times, the tide was in a minus stage and the water was extremely dirty; 3) On six occasions, we gave our metal jig to an unsuccessful live shrimp/live bait fish angler after we finished jigging for the day. On three of those six occasions, those anglers hooked-up on either a snook, or tarpon, before we departed off that 400-foot catwalk. Prior to their hook-up, no angler had any prior knowledge of a metal jig. There were two of us on that memorable April day. They were Peter Danneman and me. Peter was an executive with Marriott hotels and just a basic live shrimp angler. That was until being converted to an addicted Crippled Herring angler. We decided to video-record a comparison test of a plain lead
alloy metal jig prototype against the bright chrome 3/4 oz. Crippled Herring. The test was to stop fishing after ten snook were caught and released. The results shocked us. The winning lure was the plain lead alloy prototype. It won by a margin of 9-to-1! The name of that prototype was the Kandlefish (candlefish/ eulachon/smelt), highly-prized by Pacfic cold water game fish and an oily member of the smelt family. The Kandlefish is the parent of its hybrid offspring, the Sonic BaitFish™. The Sonic BaitFish™ is unique in its multiple line/snap attachment points. It can be attached three ways — to the nose, tail or back. The Kandlefish has no top-of-back attachment but it has larger sizes than the Sonic BaitFish™ (1/4 oz. to 6 oz.). Sizes for the Sonic BaitFish™ range smaller from 1/16 oz. to 1 oz. As I have mentioned in numerous articles, the Sonic BaitFish™ is the perfect down-sizing lure when fishing conditions turn difficult. I have consistently reversed a bad weather “dead bite” day on the water by reaching for the 1/16- or 1/10-oz. Sonic BaitFish™. Both lures offer the potential for unprecendented multi-species catches because of its “linear oscillation” design. It just depends how shallow, or how deep, you want to fish. Now, to my notable catches. My personal two-man, one-day best jigging and casting outing with the Kandlefish was with Astoria, Ore. school teacher Gordon Thomson in July of 1999 on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Wash. We caught 171 mature chinook salmon. My personal oneman, one-day best jigging outing with the Sonic BaitFish™ was on Lake Sutherland, Wash. on Sept. 26, 2013. On that day, I caught 300 kokanee while vertical jigging in 25-40 feet of water on a dead-calm day during a light rain shower. This total was actually larger but night was falling and my target number was achieved. What was special on that day is that
it was my mom’s 95th birthday back in Ohio. When I first arrived on the water, I thought it would have been a fun way to honor her by catching 95 kokanee to match her age. It went far-beyond my expectations! Note: both of these trips were 3rd party-verified, photographed and video-recorded. Special note: For many years, the Crippled Herring was referred to as “the Rapala of metal jigs” for its many fresh and saltwatercaught fish records. That was before designing “linear oscillation” in the Kandlefish and Sonic BaitFish™. The future for these two successors to the Crippled Herring appear unlimited. Finally, Mike Hall, a Pro Staff for Mack’s Lure — he is higly-respected for his vast scientific knowledge of sport fishing and the valuable tips he imparts through his articles and onthe-water presentations on Angler West TV and others. Mike, along with his son, Thom, form a highly analytical team on the ice and on open water. Thom’s specialty is ice fishing and analyzing lure performance. Thom utilizes Garmin Live Scope technology to study fish behavior under a variety of conditions. According to Thom, there are two critical factors that determine if a fish will strike a lure. In a recent test with crappie, a 1/16 oz. Sonic BaitFish was compared to a very popular, and highly promoted, Northland Forage Minnow Spoon. Thom stated that, “the crappie were attracted to the bright colors on the Northland jigs. As soon as they caught sight of the jig, they would swiftly swim to it in order to more closely inspect it. However, very few fish struck those lures that had those attractive finishes.” Then, Thom lowered the 1/16 oz. Sonic BaitFish. It was a finish that was faded and tattered from over a hundred fish previously caught on it. It did not matter as the fish were reacting to the action of the Sonic BaitFish, and not what it looked like, as they aggressively struck the lure! They were triggered to strike the Sonic BaitFish™ because it was acting like a crippled baitfish. Thom concluded
his observation by stating that, “the Sonic BaitFish out-fished the Northland jig by at least 6-to-1. I think it could have been 12-to-1 with a new paint job.” Next time a lure purchase is being contemplated, look beyond all the makeup to see what’s inside.
mean a lot slower action than the regular season as the fish are just coming out of their semi-dormancy mode. Kokanee are very temperature sensitive and they prefer water temps between 48-54 degree fahrenheit, with optimum range between 53-54 degrees. This is why kokanee tend to hangout in the lake thermocline as it provides the optimum water temperature. In the early spring, the water temperature hasn’t warmed up enough to establish a “comfort zone” for the fish. Once the ice comes off, the lake starts to turn over and the thermocline is slowly established.
EARLY SPRING KOKANEE TIPS
Due to the cooler water temperatures, you will find kokanee holding in areas of the lake that you normally wouldn’t during the regular season (May to July); such as shallow areas where the water warms up much faster than the middle of the day. Target areas of the lake that get the most sun expsure throughout the day. Pay close attention to your thermometer on your sonar and track down the warmest areas.
Thank you for subscribing to the Mack Attack and for the confidence you place in our fishing products. It is our hope that our monthly articles further-increase your success and enjoyment on the water. -Capt. Pete
BY DANNY COYNE
The ice fishing season is coming to an end and for most of us kokanee fanatics, we are itching to get the boat back out on the water to chase down some chrome beauties! For me, the kokanee season starts a couple weeks before open water. I tie up new kokanee lures, re-spool my fishing reels with fresh monofilament and stock up on scents and white shoepeg corn for bait. Kokanee fishing is a lot of fun as it offers a challenge each time you head out onto the water. When it comes to kokanee fishing what is worked one day doesn’t mean it will work the next. However, by following some of these early spring kokanee fishing tactics it will help you get more kokanee in your boat! First off, you have to anticipate that targeting kokanee in early spring can
A staple food in a kokanee’s diet is zooplankton, however in lakes that had ice over the kokanee will turn to aggressively foraging on a variety of larvae and bugs found on the shallow areas as the lake turns over. A good tip is that once you catch for first kokanee, check its stomach contents to find out what they are eating. If they are feeding on larvae and bugs, you will know to keep near the shallows (less than 50-feet) and use baits such as pink maggots. If they are feeding on zooplankton (the stomach contents are green sludge) then you can target the kokanee out in deeper water. Since the kokanee are seeking warmer water temperatures they will be residing near the surface as this is the first part of the lake to warm up. When trolling and trying to mark fish on your sonar, you may have a difficult time as the fish are in the highest section of the water column, making the “sonar cone” from your
fish finder hard to pick up. Early season kokanee fishing provides an excellent opportunity for anglers don’t have downriggers on their boats to effectively target these fish. One can have good success by long lining a presentation such as the Mack’s Lure Flash Lite® Troll and Double Whammy® Wedding Ring® just below the surface with a small amount of weight. If you have downriggers on your boat, they can still be used by targeting the upper 25-feet of the water column. In the spring period, I prefer to troll a minimum of 75 feet out as the terminal tackle is being presented not that deep from the boat. The key to trolling during early spring is to slow everything down! Trolling speeds between 0.8 to 1.2 mph tend to produce the best. In the spring months, I also increase my leader lengths more than I do in the regular season so that the lure’s action is slowed down behind the dodger. Again, because the fish are coming out of their semi-dormancy mode they aren’t as aggressive. Start with a longer leader and then progressively shorten it until you find the right action that entices the kokanee to attack your gear. Color and size patterns of your terminal tackle can also plan an important role in helping to increase the odds in your favor. If the water starts to become clouded from the runoff or lake turnover, switch to darker colors such as blues and purples and increase the size of your lures. The kokanee need to find your presentation and the way they do that is by feel, smell and sight. The darker and larger presentations will help the contrast of your presentation to stand out for the fish to locate it. Adding Mack’s Lure UV Bait Scents such as shrimp or garlic will also help the fish track down your lure and encourage them to bite. Early spring is a great time to get out on the water. Happy fishing!
HOT DEAL: USE CODE MASK50
OF THE MONTH Have a questions you want answered? Send your inquiry to us and yours may be featured! Simply send an email to email@example.com or reach out to us on social media.
Q: How do you rig a nightcrawler to a Smile Blade® Slow Death or Super Slow Death hook or crawler harness?
PHOTO OF THE MONTH David Vadnais of Quebec shows off a gorgeous walleye caught through the ice on a Mack’s Lure Cripplure in the Fire Tiger pattern. Thanks for sharing, David!
A: There have been many people asking about this, so Mack’s Lure Pro Staff Ted Beach made a video about it on our Facebook page! But we’ll answer it here, as well. A nightcrawler is an effective bait for many species of fish, but particularly walleye. Although they come in many sizes, using these worms can be extremely effective and add to your movement. For example, when using a Smile Blade® Slow Death or Super Slow Death Rig start threading the night crawler up the hook and all the way to the eye. Make sure the hook itself is not exposed and the barbs on the hook make the crawler stick in place. Once the crawler is threaded, bend it so it’s perpendicular to the hook, then pinch off the crawler an inch from the back of the hook. This is only a preference.
VIDEO OF THE MONTH Head to Lake Roosevelt on this episode of the Northwest Outdoorsmen as Richy, Bobby and Lance target monster kokanee and trout at this special fishery.
Follow Mack’s Lure on Facebook and Instagram and tag us with #MacksLure. Facebook.com/MacksLure @macks_lure To submit your catch, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media using #MacksLure.