First, I hope all of you that fished Minnesota opener had a great time. Even though I sometimes poke fun of “walleye season” (hey, I’m from SD), it’s a tradition that runs deep for many, something I can totally respect. I’m guessing it’s something like we experience for out pheasant opener every fall. Good stuff that I wouldn’t miss. The hunting is just a small part anyway.
It’s been some time since I’ve updated you on the bite on the Missouri River in central South Dakota. To sum things up quickly, it’s pretty solid. Fish are moving out of the spawn and starting to set up on typical summertime patterns and locations. We’re finding active walleyes roaming expansive flats. As many of you know, one of my favorite ways to target walleyes all year is by trolling Rapala crankbaits on leadcore. These flat walleyes tend to be very nomadic, constantly on the move in search of their next meal. This same behavior can make them difficult to stay on top of using slower, more methodical live bait and jig/rig techniques. This isn’t to say you can blindly troll cranks across the center of any flat and find success, you still have to keep your eyes glued to your electronics, using side image, down image, and interactive GPS mapping to understand where the more active fish are traveling. Key areas to look for are the edges of the flat, especially ones that sharply fall off into the main river channel.
Trolling these contours and keeping your baits in the money require precision boat control. Too shallow and you’ll often find your cranks digging bottom and/or snagged up. Too deep and you’ll be well and above active fish. I’m using the iPilot function of my MinnKota Terrova in conjunction with my kicker motor to precisely maneuver my boat at the right depth along the contour I’m following. The bow mounted MinnKota steers the boat where I need to to go much crisper than a steering wheel or tiller handle from the rear. I set my kicker at the desired speed, (right now 2.0-2.6 mph) and lock it straight forward. I use the iPilot remote (speed set on 3 ish) to command the steering. Another advantage to this is the autopilot mode. If you run into multiple fish OR need both hands to re-tie, untangle, or even to grab a bite to eat, the auto pilot function will keep you moving in the desired direction without making circles.
Rapala Shad Raps, Glass Shad Raps, and Minnow Raps, remain my staple crankbaits all over the system. Sizes 5 and 6 are my favorite in the Shad Rap Series as well as size 7 in the Minnow Rap. Colors like UV Pink, Green, Purpledescent, Storm Smash Shads in Wonderbread and UV Ghost Wonderbread are all fantastic colors to try. Filter through different colors until a desired presentation comes together. It seems like I’m constantly changing it up to keep those fish on the chew. Adding a VMC snap on your leader remains the easiest way to change it up without having to retie each time.
Here are a few pics from the weekend. Can’t wait to do it all over again next weekend