November 2020 | Mack Attack Magazine

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Mack’s Lure Smile Blade® helps Brad (L) and Matt (R) Fairbank land 1st place at the Potholes Walleye Classic

every article ever posted on walleye fishing at Potholes Reservoir for the next two weeks. We spent hours studying Lakemaster maps looking for specific areas of interest that we thought would be key to holding large walleye. We knew we had some work to do and the odds were not in our favor, but at least we had an opportunity to have some fun and check one more box on our bucket list of great new places to catch walleye.



Back in March this year we made the decision to plan a trip to Potholes Reservoir to experience this amazing walleye fishery we had heard so much about over the years. Due to so many uncertainties this year, we never got to take that much aniticipated trip — but that all changed when we saw on social media that the Mardon Fall Walleye Classic Tournament was officially a go! With much excitement we made the quick decision and decided that this was the perfect excuse and opportunity to go check it out. So, the research began! We probably watched and read

My son, Matt, and I exclusively fish walleye all season long in the Lake Umatilla section of the Columbia River — from Umatilla down to Boardman and everywhere in between. We knew the conditions were going to be somewhat different at Potholes because there is virtually no current and the variety of different feeding options, structure and depths.

ended the day with “ We one 22-inch walleye caught

while pulling a tried and true silver Mack’s Lure Smile Blade.” BRAD FAIRBANK | POTHOLES WALLEYE CLASSIC WINNER

We made the trip over with only one day to pre-fish to see what we were up against. The weather all that week had been unusually warm for October with temps in the 80s and abundant sunshine. However, the forecast was about to take a turn for the worse and make things a bit more challenging with

high winds and rain the next couple days. We contacted Mack’s Lure Pro Staff Ted Beach earlier in the week to give us some insight to how things were over there as far as conditions and bite. He reported back that the bite was slow and the reservoir had dropped about 20 feet, making things a bit trickier. We launched on Friday for a brief prefish, but it didn’t give us a lot of answers as to where the fish were and no clear answers as to what their bait of choice was going to be. We fished several sunken islands and drop-offs, pulling a variety of crankbaits, jigging blade baits and tossing some soft plastics. We spent a lot of time experimenting with different speeds, depths and colors. It was a bit of a learning curve due to the sudden changes in depth with thousands of holes and valleys on the reservoir floor. It didn’t take long to realize how the reservoir got its name. We ended the day with one 22-inch walleye caught while pulling a tried and true silver Mack’s Lure Smile Blade crawler harness with a 1.5-ounce bottom walker, trolling around 1.3 mph. The fish was caught in 22 feet of water off a sharp contour of a small island. So, now we figured we had a good starting point kind of dialed in for the first day of the tournament. DAY ONE The first day started with overcast conditions, rain and very strong winds. MARDON RESORT AT POTHOLES


We knew boat control was going to be an issue, so we kept it simple and started out pulling harnesses we used the day before around the same island structure and depth. After using the side imaging around the area, we realized we weren’t marking any fish and had to move. We then moved to a location around Crab Creek that we had previously scouted on the maps that looked promising on holding some fish. It wasn’t long there until we were able to pick up three small walleye with the crawler harness, but we were continuously getting short bit in about 16- to 23-feet of water. We made a couple adjustments on blade color and bead color, and paired our combo with a slow death hook. We decided to go with a slight bead color change to one green bead, one chartreuse bead and a different colored Smile Blade® 1.1 in Chartreuse Mirror. Immediately, I had a load up with a very nice, 25-plus-inch walleye that we unfortunatelly lost at the boat during a netting mishap in the 25 mph winds and rain. I’ll admit, losing a fish like that was tough and very hard to swallow, especially in a tournament.

Even with the huge disappointment of losing that fish, we knew that we had finally dialed in the type of location, depth and what color combination they were after. We ended the day weighing our six largest fish for a total of 10.24 pounds and enough for a respectful 3rd place finish on day one. DAY TWO The second morning came with what seemed like forever to get out there again to do what we had come there to do — try to win this thing. To win, we knew we had to buckle down and work a bit harder with the harness combinations we had figured out the day before. The thought was ‘stick with the plan, don’t change anything, and catch some good quality fish to make ground on the lead.’ The weather forecast on day two was much of the same as day one, but without as severe of winds. We were


Mack’s Lure’s Bob Loomis joins Richy Harrod and his son, Tyler, for an episode of The Northwest Outdoorsmen on Potholes Reservoir in Central Washington state. The trio land a number of large walleye pulling Mack’s Lure Smile Blade® spinners. Give it a watch & be sure to subscribe.

thinking this would give us a little bit better chance to stay on the fish and to tighten up our presentation techniques to be more precise. Success started early and we had landed over eight fish by 9 o’clock! The fish on day two appeared to be more active — they were moving a lot and foraging in the shallows on the ledges of nearly every hole we passed over. We kept with the same Smile Blade® Slow Death throughout the day because it was working and working well. We continued to have success catching a multitude of walleye with this system and managed to put together a respectable six fish limit of good slot fish with on 26-inch fish.

Fairbank will cherish forever and ever. A special thanks to everyone at CWAFC, Mardon Resort and all the sponsors who made this great experience possible. We can’t wait until next year!

With the tournament ending at 3 p.m., we decided at 2:30 p.m. it was time to head back. Driving back, we felt confident that we had given every bit of effort we could have and felt proud of the accomplishment we had strived for. Once we arrived at the dock, we carefully bagged our fish and headed to the weigh master to approve our six biggest fish of the day. As our fish were loaded onto the scale, we nervously waited for the results. To our amazement, the scale read 16.88 pounds total weight for our six fish, which combined brought our total to 27.12 pounds. It took a bit for that to register, but after analyzing the other contestant’s weights and official word from the officials, we knew we had indeed won. The feeling was incredible and although we have done well in other tournaments, this was even more of an accomplishment because we went to a fishery we’venever fished and were able to take our experiences to become successful. This will be a memory Team





SILVER SBF FINISH Clear, sunny water. Secondary choice to silver-blue. Deadly for Spanish & king mackerel. One of the largest walleyes ever caught through the ice in Lake Erie (14 lbs by 12 year old Will Tibbels, March 2015) was on a 1/3 oz silver SBF attached to the top of the back. GLOW ORANGE SBF FINISH The No. 1 finish for kokanee fishing.




The three basic qualities, of a consistently productive metal jig, are flutter, vibration and finish. Finishes include flash (caused by the sun’s reflection off silver, or gold, metal surfaces), fluorescence (an ultraviolet glow paint; functions only in the presence of light) and phosphorescence (an ultraviolet, glow-in-the-dark paint; functions after light is removed). Of these three basic jig qualities, the finish is the only variable that may change continuously, according to light and water conditions. Across the country, the following SBF finishes have been personal consistent producers in fresh and salt water:

FIRE TIGER SBF FINISH Most effective in fresh water with yellow perch populations. Killer for mangrove snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. GLOW WHITE SBF FINISH

multi-species jigging in the Gulf of Mexico or casting for largemouth bass across the country, this UV glow finish catches the eye of fish and triggers strikes. Note: My finish selections work whether casting, jigging or trolling. For casting to shallow water trout and largemouth bass, I prefer the 1/10 and 1/6 oz SBF. For salmon, and other larger fish, I love casting the 1/4 and 1/3 oz sizes. Basically, when fish are suspended near surface, I cast the smallest size SBF to effectively reach my target. Smaller lures fall slower and remain in the strike zone longer. As always, I hope these tips result in more strikes on your future fishing outings. Thank you for being a subscriber to the Mack Attack.

Especially effective during low light periods and dark/deeper water. GLOW CHARTREUSE SBF FINISH If I was forced to pick only a single finish to fish the world it would be glow chartreuse. Whether salmon fishing in the Pacific NW, walleye jigging in Lake Erie/Columbia River,

GOLD SBF FINISH Effective for tea-stained, murky, water and clear or off-colored trout rivers. #1 finish for Gulf of Mexico snapper, redfish, grouper and cobia. SILVER BLUE SBF FINISH Clear, sunny water. Superb flash and natural coloration of a live bait fish. Killer for chinook & coho salmon and most other fresh, and salt, water species — as long as the water is clear and sun reflects off its surface.

WALLEYE LURE WITH SCENT CHAMBER The Wally Pop® Crawler just got a whole lot deadlier. Mack’s Lure’s Bob Schmidt and Pro Staff Jaime Rodriguez show a simple trick to land more walleye.Simply pull out the tapered bead from the soft, durable tubing and insert scent. Get your Wally Pops at





Have a questions you want answered? Send your inquiry to us and yours may be featured! Simply send an email to or reach out to us on social media.

Q: I’m looking to get out on the water for some fall walleye. What gear do you recommend this time of year?

PHOTO OF THE MONTH Check out this photo of a gorgeous walleye caught on Potholes Reservoir two weeks ago with Mack’s Lure Guide Staff Shelby Ross. Smile Blade® Super Slow Death Rig.

A: This time of the year is a really good time to be out walleye fishing, as they’re going to be on the “bite” very soon. It’s starting to get cold and a lot of the plankton and weed growth is starting to die off, which is where all of your food base is. Thus, the food base will start moving to other cover and spreading out rather than being kegged up in the weeds. The walleye will still be around these weed lines, but will be moving much more than usual while also being more aggressive, eating anything they can find. Therefore, we would recommend trolling any of our larger profile products, such as the Double Whammy® Walleye, Smile Blade® Super Slow Death Rig and Wally Pop® Crawler. The larger the profile, the better this time of year.

VIDEO OF THE MONTH Spend more time fishing and less time rigging with the Pip’s Leader Caddy and Pip’s Box allowing you to store heftier hooks, double hook riggings, and much more.

You can also try to throw a Sonic BaitFish™ at the edges of the weed lines once you’ve found the fish and vertically jig. Best of luck! Follow Mack’s Lure on Facebook and Instagram and tag us with #MacksLure. @macks_lure To submit your catch, send us an email at or tag us on social media using #MacksLure.