Slabbing is a presentation I’ve hated for years. You use a lead or metal spoon, usually 3/4 to 1 ounce, and jig it in a vertical motion to imitate dying bait fish. When these fish fall out of schools to the bottom, predators are there waiting with hungry stomachs, filling up for winter. I knew this tactic produced large fish, but I still wasn’t interested in it. Now that I’ve spent the fall learning this process with guys who know what they’re doing, it’s all turned around for me.
The biggest piece of this puzzle is finding baitfish schools with predators nearby. Once you find active fish on your sonar, then it’s time to fish. Sometimes you’ll find an area where fish are moving around, seemingly in circles, and come and go on your sonar. When they’re present, be ready. Other times you find a school and are able to sit on top of them in the boat for an hour or two at a time. When they move, it’s time for you to move and find them again. It can be a challenge, but can also be very rewarding.
We have spent many hours in the past 2 months fishing a variety of reservoirs using the slabbing tactic. At times it can be slow, but when it’s good, it’s good. My buddy Jorg and I spent a day together back in October and had an outstanding day. First fish of the day was my biggest walleye of the year at 27 1/2″. But 20 minutes later that was blown away. I hooked a walleye that went 29 3/4″, and was well over 10lbs. We didn’t have a scale handy, and I was worried about making sure she swam off easily, which she did. Using formulas I’ve found online that use a 29″x15″ dimension, weight is calculated from 10.5 to 10.64lbs. With having an extra 3/4″ and a nice fat girth, I’ve been told this fish was approaching 11lbs, possibly over. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. With another 23″, two 24″ fish, and another 27 1/2″ and 28″ fish, our day was more than complete.
As the water temp started to drop even further, the action only heated up. A day in the Tri County canal showed us our coldest water yet at 41, but that didn’t slow the fishing action. We found saugers in a hole and they were willing to hit anything from jigs to slabs to blade baits. We boated 40 fish in a few hours, with many others coming updone or short striking. While no monsters were caught, it was still great fun on a fall afternoon with my buddy Steve.
Another area reservoir provided us with frustration and excellent fishing, sometimes all at once. This lake really proves how important it is to find fish using your sonar. Without finding any, your day can be a struggle. We had an excellent day followed by a tough day, but at least fish were caught. We used a variety of slab spoons to boat about 75 fish one day, including 10 wipers up to 24″, and quite a few white bass up to 16″. The 2nd day wasn’t as good with only 3 wipers and 9 white bass. Almost reached Master Angler status on one white bass, as he was very nice sized. But he fell a half inch short at 16 1/2″. Still a lot of fun while we were on fish.
We have now had a winter storm hit our area, and water temps are sure to fall abruptly. I hope we’re able to get out and chase wipers again once more before our lakes freeze. Even in cold water, the wipers give a hard fight. Maybe we’ll just go out and find em on ice too!