DAVE LEFEBRE: My Ice Fishing Makes My Bass Catching Better

By Dave Lefebre – December 11, 2019

Experience is something you truly need to become a good professional bass angler. A major component of experience is time on the water: the years and years of learning about fish behavior, and the subtle things needed to adjust correctly to continue catching bass under all conditions.

During the winter months, many of the top pros – when they aren’t hunting – still get out, fish, stay sharp, and continue to learn. Living where I do in Pennsylvania, that’s not something I can do (at least not on the open water). But, I do get out a lot and fish through the ice to stay sharp and on top of my fishing game.

I started ice fishing with my dad years ago as a kid – just tagged along for something to do in the winter to pass time. Now, I can’t wait to get out on the ice.

Ice fishing is like a chess match with the fish. Fish are fish, no matter what species you’re after. You can’t really tell what they are on your electronics anyway.

The chess match is figuring out how I can fish faster and follow the fish more effectively as they transition from one area to another. There’s so much fish movement: you can’t simply go to the same spot year after year and catch fish. It’s a dynamic and exciting way to fish. It never gets old, I keep learning and improving, and it helps me become a better pro angler.

The Advantages of Ice
I once thought that not being able to regularly fish open water during the winter was a disadvantage as a pro bass angler, but I realized it’s not. I flipped it around and have made it into an advantage.

One of the great advantages I have is that ice fishing makes me very well acquainted with my electronics. When my new Lowrance units arrive, I’ll first use them on the ice and not a boat. It’s stationary, almost a controlled environment. The screen looks like a simulation. This allows me to tinker with the gear and really dial it in.

Ice fishing equipment is so microscopic compared to open-water gear. When I’m using my electronics, I can dial them in to see the tiny jigs we use, to see that 3-inch perch, and be able to decipher what I’m looking at. Fishing through the ice offers a unique stillness – it’s an overexaggerated stillness that allows me to fine-tune things. It makes you want to totally master the fishing techniques and electronics.

When you fish open water, you can never recreate that perfect stillness in your technique. Even on the stillest day with no wind or current, there’s added motion. Just you moving in the boat creates more motion. What ice fishing helps you with is how to master that stillness so you can try to recreate it on open water.

Borrowing Technology
Now, of course, there are lots of other cool things ice fishing has brought to the forefront, like cameras. I use this really cool MarCum camera with a remote control that’s connected through a phone app.

I’ll set the camera at a home base, which is the primo spot on the ice. Then, my friends and I will all head out and drill holes to fish around and find the active fish. All of us have access to the camera via the app. If something pops up, we can head back and fish that area. It’s really neat.

I believe that technology will end up advancing and becoming even more useful to open water anglers as well. I know some pros already use cameras during practice.

So, if you’re a bass angler in a frozen water location, get out on the ice and take advantage of what it can teach you. Fish are fish, so no matter what you’re catching, you’ll improve your bass fishing game. Just make sure you’re safe and wear things like a Striker snowsuit and don’t fish alone. Turn that frozen disadvantage to your advantage.

3 Bass Lures You Should Never Go Fishing Without

Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, and swim jigs are all designed to find bass fast—and make them strike. Which is the best? Here’s our take

By Pete Robbins
December 10, 2019
a collection of assorted bass fishing lures.
The author’s favorite assortment of spinnerbaits, swim jigs, and Chatterbaits.Pete Robbins
Although bass may group up offshore, or chase pelagic baitfish, for the hard core largemouth hunter in search of hand-to-hand combat, the most enjoyable times are when they’re pinned around shallow cover ambush points, waiting to feed. This can be just about any time of the year, from the pre-spawn through the fall, and under all types of conditions, so a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing your lure makes no sense.

Of course a topwater bite can be thrilling, and is often the only way to go around thick vegetation, but it’s also the first option to go south when conditions get tough. Pitching and flipping soft plastics and jigs can be super-effective, especially when bass are buried in cover or otherwise reluctant to chew, but they’re slow, time-consuming methods that don’t allow you to cover maximum water.

Into this mix enters a trio of lures that can be presented quickly, relatively weedlessly, and horizontally, aimed at finding bass fast and making them strike – the spinnerbait, the Chatterbait, and the swim jig. While there are times when all three will produce reasonably well, there are enough subtle differences to help you make an educated guess about which of the three will produce best. Add all of them to your arsenal, follow these guidelines, and be prepared to break the rules because many largemouths haven’t read the same textbooks as the rest of us.

1. Spinnerbait

The traditional safety pin-style spinnerbait is the oldest and most widely-used of the triumvirate. It incorporates a bent wire frame, with a leadhead and hook at one end of the “V” and one or two blades at the other extremity. Usually there is a skirt over the hook, although sometimes a soft plastic lure is placed there instead.

Spinnerbaits used for bass start with 1/8 ounce crappie-sized versions and go all the way up to the 2 ounce monsters that northern muskie hunters throw. Depending on the weight of the lure, the speed of the retrieve and the size and shape of the blades, they can be fished down to 30 or more feet, although in most cases they are best in water less than 10 feet deep.

A spinnerbait doesn’t need to be bumping bottom, or any sort of cover, to draw fish. The thump of the blades—big-cupped Colorados provide the most, willows the least, and Indianas somewhere in between—allows fish to track them with sight as well as with their lateral lines. That means they can be deadly in muddy water and can draw bass that are on the bottom or suspended up into the water column.

A spinnerbait with willow-leaf blades.

They’re at their best when there’s some wind, to break up the surface and maximize the flash, because in calm, clear water they resemble nothing found in nature. That does not mean they’re only good in stained or muddy water—but a clear water approach generally requires a faster retrieve. Sometimes it mandates an ultra-natural skirt, but smallmouths in particular like something gaudy. Don’t hesitate to use chartreuse or bubblegum in both blades and skirts, when they’re feeding heavily.

While a spinnerbait comes through most cover reasonably well, it typically does not do so as well as the Chatterbait or the swim jig. That’s partially because it has so many moving parts —clevises, blades, swivels and wire bends—and a piece of grass or other debris fouling up one element can mess up the whole cast. On the other hand, they create action and noise at just about any retrieve speed, so you can match the attitude of the fish and still keep a lure in the strike zone, often without changing baits, but sometimes by simply moving to a bigger or smaller blade size.

Because they are primarily meant to imitate baitfish, most spinnerbait skirts are in white, chartreuse, shad colors or some combinations thereof. Patterns like watermelon and pumpkinseed exist, but they haven’t gained much traction. Darker colors like black or purple are primarily known as colors for night fishing, especially with an oversized Colorado blade. One advantage that a spinnerbait has over its competitors is that a trailer hook can be easily and seamlessly added to counter short strikers.

2. Chatterbait

Bass home in on Chatterbaits due largely to the vibrations the lures emit.

I use the term “Chatterbait” loosely, only because that brand name has become the generic, like “Coke” or “Kleenex.” More properly they might be called “bladed jigs” or “vibrating jigs.” Born in the Carolinas, they entered the scene a little over a decade ago and were immediately touted as “the lure to end spinnerbaits.” While that prediction never came to pass, indeed they have stolen much of their predecessors’ thunder, catching big bass across the country and around the world.

The Chatterbait marries a thin blade – often hexagonal or round – to a skirted jighead, often via two interlocking eyelets, but sometimes incorporating a split ring. This connecting creates drag on the blade when pulled forward, which results in heavy vibration. It’s tighter than that of a spinnerbait with big cupped blades, but the best among them often hunt. In other words, on a straight steady retrieve the lure will suddenly veer out to one side or the other before tracking true again. The strikes often come at the moment of deflection. Models in 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes are most popular, but they’re available in sizes as small as 1/8 ounce and up to over 1 ounce, which means they can be dragged across offshore ledges and humps, appealing to fish who’ve previously only seen jigs, worms and crankbaits.

A Chatterbait (top) and a swim jig (bottom)

Without less flash than spinnerbaits, these lures rely on a bass’ other senses to elicit bites, but part of their advantage is that they don’t need quite as much wind to be effective—they can typically get through heavy cover, particularly vegetation, with slightly more ease.

While whites and shad colors can be effective any time bass are feeding on silvery baitfish, the Chatterbait typically provides for a greater range of color options. Most pros rely most heavily on three—white/shad, green pumpkin/watermelon and black/blue. The skirt color can be offset or complemented by the soft plastic trailer on the back. The green shades, particularly with a touch of chartreuse, are especially deadly anytime bass are feeding on bream, and in addition to gold or silver blades, flat black can be best when the bite is tough or the water is dirty. A black and blue lure excels for the same reason a flipping jig in those same colors does—it represents the crawfish that bass gorge on to pack on the pounds.

Most trailers are either small boot-tailed swimbaits or craw imitators, although the original Chatterbait came with a small split-tail. Unlike a spinnerbait, a Chatterbait has little to no action of its own when paused or allowed to helicopter down in the water column, so if you plan a stop-and-go technique you’ll want something on the back that undulates on its own. You’ll also want to find a hook that has a keeper barb or some sort, or else use a drop of Super Glue, unless you want to be adjusting and replacing soft plastic trailers all day

One advantage of the Chatterbait over a spinnerbait is that it can be easily skipped, even by relative novices. If you want to place a vibrating lure into the furthest reaches of a boathouse or under some overhanging branches, that’s eminently achievable.

3. Swim Jig

A jig has long been many anglers’ “desert island” lure, the one they’d carry with them when forced to catch something to survive under terrible conditions. Most of the time, however, that meant either pitching it into heavy cover, bouncing it along the bottom, or a straight vertical drop to fish under the boat. The swim jig turns all of that on its ear, and makes the jig into a handy companion for a spinnerbait, vibrating jig, or lipless crankbait.

In many respects, it looks like a Chatterbait without the blade, a simple jig with a swimbait, grub or craw on the back, meant to swim through cover and pull bass out. For decades this technique was largely the province of two geographically distinct groups of anglers—one from Wisconsin, one from Alabama.

The former group used a pointy-headed “bullet” style jighead and a relatively light-wire hook. The latter contingent employed a more blunted head and a heavier wire hook, assumedly for dealing with bigger fish in heavier cover, although both do well in thick vegetation.

When the conditions slick off and get tough, and a once-superior spinnerbait or Chatterbait bite dies, a swim jig might be the next step down on the obnoxiousness scale. Unless equipped with a rattle, they make no noise of their own, and they depend on their trailers for action of the fall even more than a Chatterbait, but they come through all but the heaviest cover with greater aplomb. In fact, you can skitter one over thick pads or matted grass to replicate a frog or small terrestrial animal in a manner that a spinnerbait could never dream of. Unlike a spinnerbait or most Chatterbaits, the typical swim jig has a weedguard, which makes it even more snagproof.

Like the Chatterbait, white, green and black/blue are the primary colors, but a few strands of accent colors can be added to match any forage. Many of the mass manufacturers make their skirts out of silicone, which offers the greatest variety of color options, but old-school rubber is making a comeback among anglers who believe that it has more action. The choices are endless. The most popular sizes are ¼ to ¾ ounce, and a bigger jig can be made to ride higher in the water column by a bulky trailer.

With each of these three lures you can use fluorocarbon or braid (or even monofilament), although the purists resist using braid with a spinnerbait and they’re split with regard to the other two lures. A “broomstick” style rod won’t telegraph strikes or allow for precise casts – you’ll need something with enough backbone to hoist big fish out of cover, but enough tip to make pinpoint presentations. The rod you use with braid might need a little bit more give, while fluorocarbon users can get away with one that’s a little stiffer. What you can’t get away with, though, is leaving any of these three options at home.

Calculating Pike Weight

In-Fisherman Contributor Jeff Matity suggests this formula for estimating the weight of pike and muskies, from known length and girth measurements. Called “The Crawford Method,” it was developed during Dr. Robert Crossman’s and Dr. John Casselmans’ research on muskie aging, often called “The Cleithrum Project.” Twelve hundred muskies from 6 to 60 pounds were used to arrive at the formula, which we find highly accurate. To calculate beyond what we have here, the formula is Weight = (Length x Girth) divided by 25, minus 10—where weight is in pounds and length and girth are in inches.

How kayak bass tournaments work

“So, where’s your livewell?” asked the ol’ boy from the front platform of his bass boat upon learning that I was in a kayak bass tournament with my plastic 13-footer. He was fishing the same ledge as I was on Kentucky Lake.

“Don’t have one,” I replied. “Right after we catch a bass, we put it on this Hawg Trough ruler, take its picture with our phone and put the fish back in the lake. Then we upload the picture to a tournament website. The website tallies everybody’s catch and puts the standings up on a live leaderboard. We can actually check and see who’s winning and what place we’re in while we’re on the water.”

“Well ain’t that cool!” the bass man said as he juiced his bowmount trolling motor and eased on down the rocky shelf.

Measuring and photographing the catch and scorekeeping in cyberspace are just a couple of places where kayak contests diverge from traditional bass boat tournaments. With the inaugural Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia tournaments set to begin in March, here are some of the kayak contests’ aspects that are unique, and some skills kayak bass anglers can acquire to stay competitive.

Measure and photo
Most tournaments allow anglers to use their choice of three different measuring devices: The Hawg Trough ($19.99), a YakGear Fish Stick ($33.99) and the Ketch Board ($59.99) from Ketch Products. The first two are plastic and usually require the angler to mark the measurement lines with a Sharpie. The Ketch Board is metal with a plastic cradle and comes with measurement lines and numbers engraved in the metal.

Taking a picture of a freshly caught bass on their lap in a narrow kayak is something that anglers need to practice. It’s not all that easy and fish sometimes scoot to freedom before the angler can snap a picture. Upon catching a keeper bass, most experienced anglers unhook it and leave it in the landing net at boat-side or attach it to Fish Grips on a length of cord and leave the fish in the water. The angler then readies his phone, ruler and — highly important — the tournament identifier. That last item is usually a card with the angler’s name and “code” of three or four letters and numbers released the night prior to the tournament. The unique identifier code helps ensure anglers caught the fish they submit on tournament day. The identifier must be in the photo for the fish to be accepted.

Anglers then wet the board, hold the fish on the board with one hand, making sure the pectoral is pointed back towards the fish’s tail, which helps the fish relax. Then they take the picture, phone in the other hand.

Rules specific to different tournaments allow the fish’s mouth to be open or require it be closed. A common rookie mistake is to only take one picture of the fish and not check it for focus and that the whole fish and identifier was in the frame. Experienced anglers often take several pictures and put the fish back in the net or on the tether and in the water to make sure they have a picture the judges will find easy to judge. Then they let the fish go.

Most kayak tournaments feature catch-photo-release contests that allow fish to be put back in the water right after the photo is taken.

Young anglers
Another place kayak tournaments veer from traditional bass boat contests is the age of anglers. With signed, parental permission, anglers 12 years old and sometimes even younger are allowed to compete against adults — and sometimes they win.

Captains meeting
Virtual is the word. While some tournaments still require participants to physically attend a captains meeting to go over rules the night before or morning of a tournament, many tournament directors now just go live on Facebook. Participants can watch and submit questions and concerns.

Judges are watching
One common rule is to keep your phone’s GPS location engaged so judges know you are catching fish where you’re supposed to be fishing.

GPS location also allows anglers fishing large impoundments and lakes to launch from their choice of access sites instead of from the same ramp. Judges check the location stamp on photos.

Most tournaments have an official start time when kayaks can be launched and a later time when lures can hit the water. All fish pictures must be submitted to the tournament website by a predetermined time or the site simply does not accept them.

Instead of paddling or pedaling long distances on large bodies of water, anglers usually are allowed to put their yaks on the trailer or back in the vehicle and drive to another location to relaunch. Loading the kayak quickly and launching efficiently are other skills many good tournament anglers practice.

Boat qualification
Competition kayaks range from small paddle-powered boats to more expensive pedal-powered boats to even more expensive rigs with electric motors. Yes, many tournaments allow electric motors. Many anglers enjoy using motors, even though there’s no real evidence they give a significant advantage as most tournaments limit the motors’ size. In fact, Dwayne Taff of Huffman, Texas, won the 2018 Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship with more inches than 750 other contestants on Kentucky Lake over two days. He paddled his way to a $100,000 top prize.

With fish released immediately after being measured, many kayak tournaments allow fish shorter than a state’s minimum size limit to count towards an angler’s catch.
Most contests require participants to fish solo, from kayaks, as opposed to canoes or john boats. Few tourneys allow two anglers to share a tandem kayak.

Suspense
Most kayak tournaments add to the “measure-in” suspense by stopping access to the standings a half hour to two hours before official lines-out time. That way, only the judges know who actually won until the awards are presented.

While some anglers “sandbag” by not submitting their catch until the leader board goes dark, this behavior is generally frowned on by fellow participants. Some tournaments have hourly big fish prizes to encourage anglers to submit their fish as soon as they catch, photograph and release them.

Product prizes are often given in addition to cash. Here, Dustin Murguia of Chicago stands with his trophy and the kayak he won in a Michigan Kayak Trail Championship.

Rules
Probably the most important, zero-tolerance tournament rule common among yak competitions is that participants must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) whenever they are on the water. The PFD can be a standard foam-filled vest model or an inflatable. In most tournaments, anyone reported to be fishing without one is immediately disqualified from that contest.

Some tournaments also enforce state rules that cover fishing before dawn or after sundown — the kayaks must have a light that can be seen from any direction. Being on the water in the dark without one can be grounds for disqualification, too.

Another rule dictates how big a bass must be to be submitted. Since yak tournament fish are immediately released, many tournaments allow anglers to count fish shorter than a state’s minimum size. Don’t let this happen to you: One friend in his first kayak tournament didn’t carefully read the rules and let several 12- and 13-inch fish go, assuming they had to be Michigan’s minimum size of 14 inches. He likely would have finished in the money.

Other rules vary tournament circuit to tournament circuit. Some contests don’t allow anglers to talk to each other and share information. Some don’t allow anglers to call or text each other on their phones. The bottom line is, anglers need to familiarize themselves with each tournament’s rules.

Although the equipment, procedure and rules are different when you compare kayaks contests to bass boat tournaments, anglers in either kind of competition still share the same goal: Catch a bigger limit of fish than everyone else.

CASH IN ON THE FLORIDA PRESPAWN

by Kyle Wood

When most people think of fishing in Florida, braided line, flipping sticks and punching mats with heavy tungsten weights come to mind – not to mention the thought of wrestling with a double-digit fish in heavy cover. Though there are certain times of the year that can be the case, the reality is that some of the best times to catch quality and certainly numbers of fish get overlooked by most of the country.

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water.

“One of my favorite times to fish is right now,” says McMillan. “When the water starts to cool off like it is now, they come up in numbers and feed up before the spawn. It’s like prespawn in other parts of the country, except it doesn’t last as long because we have so many waves of fish that spawn from now until April, so it’s just a few weeks of feeding up.”

While this prespawn pattern may be temporarily short-lived, the fact that it happens over and over for months on end throughout the late fall into spring means dialing it in can oftentimes be a matter of watching the weather. As a cold front rolls through and the water temperatures fall, it keys the fish to begin staging to spawn – especially when a full moon is in the cards. From there, identifying where schools of bass are staging becomes to the next piece of the puzzle.

WHERE TO LOOK
Finding bass on lakes like Okeechobee or Toho may seem like a daunting task to those who have never seen them before, but McMillan says it’s a pretty simple approach to get you in the right area.

“Water color is a huge deal for this,” he adds. “I’d start by running to the outside grass edge and looking for a water color change. A mix of clean and dirty water is where they sit because the bait doesn’t like to stay in clean water because they can be seen, but the bass like the clean water. A lot of times you can visually see the color change when you’re running on plane and sometimes it’s more subtle. The harder the color line the better.

“Another big factor is bait. If you see birds flying in the same area as the color line, that’d be a great place to start fishing. The final thing you want to find is hard bottom. If you have bait and a water color change and can find harder bottom, like shell beds or clean spots, then you have all the right ingredients to catch bass.”

Since most Florida fisheries are relatively shallow, McMillan opts for fishing an area and using his baits to help identify clean spots in the grass or shell beds. If he fishes for a bit and doesn’t catch anything, he’ll move on to find the next promising area.

“Usually, you can find the route they’ll take to spawn and track back to where they’ll stage,” he explains. “So, if you have a bunch of reed clumps or pads where you think fish will spawn, and not too far away you have a water color change, bait and a shell bed. There’ll be fish around there somewhere. It’s kind of like at Rayburn last year how they were stacked in those ditches, but instead of them being in 20 feet of water, those types of areas are in 5 or less. I’ve caught 40 to 60 fish off of one spot before, and you can usually find a few places that have schools. That’s why I love fishing this time of year so much.”

WHAT TO THROW
For this situation, finding the bass is half the battle, so baits you can easily cast and retrieve fit the bill perfectly. Over the years of perfecting this approach, McMillan has settled on two baits to rely on in this situation.

“I like either a 1/2-ounce Strike King Red Eye Shad or a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Strike King Thunder Cricket. It just depends on how much grass there is,” says McMillan. “But I like them both because I can cover water efficiently. If there’s too much grass, I throw the Thunder Cricket, and if there’s less grass, I throw the Red Eye Shad.

“Especially on Okeechobee now there are a lot of dead cattails or reed stalks that are broke off underwater and you can’t see them, but you can feel them when your bait bumps it,” he says. “That kind of stuff holds fish and the Red Eye Shad and Thunder Cricket are great ways to find it and not get hung up too much.”

McMillan adds that a Strike King Sexy Dawg or Popping Perch can also be good choices – especially if the fish come up schooling once you find them, but the Red Eye Shad and Thunder Cricket are baits to never leave home without.

On the business end of the baits, McMillan keeps it pretty simple. For line, he uses 20-pound-test Strike King Tour Grade fluorocarbon for both baits. A 6-foot, 10-inch medium-heavy Lew’s Custom Speed Stick with a 6.4:1 gear ratio reel are the perfect setup for the lipless and a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Lew’s Custom Pro rod with a 7.5:1 Lew’s Pro TI reel pair nicely with the vibrating jig.

“You’ve got to throw big line and 2X treble hooks for these fish. They’re mean when they come in from the main lake.”

WHERE THERE’S ONE, THERE’S MORE
No doubt this is the time of year when you shouldn’t overlook one bite that seemed random at the time. If you don’t catch another one from the same spot after few casts, don’t write it off. You may need to prospect around the neighborhood a little more.

While McMillan admits he’s missed schools in the past by ignoring a bite or two, he’ll tell you from experience to follow those clues and see where it leads, because the motherlode may not be far off.

So, if you’re tired of staring at ice on your lakes or want to enjoy a little warmer weather, there’s no better time than the present to head to Florida and experience some of the best fishing you may encounter all year.

What Walleyes See

As backdrop to our quest to put walleyes on the ice it helps to know what walleyes can see. In-Fisherman has long been about blending the best science with extensive field experience to bring you honest answers about fishing questions. A short-hand version of what we know about walleye vision goes like this.

Walleyes have eyes that easily gather light so they have an advantage over most prey in dim light. This advantage is most obvious during twilight periods, but also after dark, although even walleyes have limited vision in the complete blackness brought on by nightfall under ice covered by snow.

Walleyes can’t see details well, although anglers often assume the opposite because they have such large and impressive eyes. But it’s the cone cells in the back of the eye, in the retina, not eye size, that determines color vision and the ability to see details like the subtle patterns on lures.

Walleyes are unique in having some of the largest cone cells of any predatory animal on land or seas. Cone cells are like pixels on a large-screen TV in a sports bar—the bigger the pixels the fuzzier the picture. Another indication that walleyes don’t have detailed vision relates to their eyes being so good at gathering scattered light, which is what helps them see so well in dim light. That also helps make details fuzzy.

Walleyes do have color vision that peaks in the orange-red-green portions of the spectrum. They see colors on both sides of each peak, but sensitivity declines. So they see wavelengths shorter than green and longer than orange-red, but not well. Overall, they see orange and red well, followed green and yellow. They’re least sensitive to blue and violet, so much so that in most situations they probably can’t distinguish them. That includes purple.

They also don’t see ultraviolet (UV) light, although the addition of UV brighteners to lures may at times help those lures fluoresce, which means the brightness of the lures increases when fluorescent paint is used. In order for this to happen, though, there needs to be enough light present to allow UV to penetrate the water column. Such light generally isn’t available under ice cover with snow, the more so in twilight conditions that often result I the most active feeding.

UV light and fluorescence shouldn’t be confused with phosphorescence, where a chemical compound in paint emits visible light (glow) after being charged by a light source. In dim light this light is more visible to walleyes and it is a proven producer in some situations.

Putting what we know together we can say that like most predator fish, walleyes in clear water can sense movements well at a distance—in the best light perhaps out to 50 feet or so. In dim light that distance is reduces to perhaps 5 to 10 feet at early twilight. As the walleyes closes the distance, the moving lure is flashing and flickering as it falls. There may e a hint of color. We are predisposing the walleye to thinking “food.” It’s a grand game of sleight of hand and illusion.

Further closing the distance, the best vision discrimination occurs for a short distance from perhaps a foot or so out to five feet, where the fish has binocular vision. Even then, though we know that walleyes don’t see details well. And when the fish closes the distance to within about foot, binocular vision disappears, making it even more difficult the fish to discriminate.

This is why it’s possible for a spoon, which looks like nothing a walleye ever eats, to be mistaken as food. See why it’s so important to hint at this and that to get the fish to bite? See why a slight rod tip movement that causes the lure to “nod” can help the fish find what it’s looking for after being attracted from a distance? Too, as we’ve said, raising the lure even a touch at this range brings the lure into better view above the walleye’s snout.

It’s walleye with the flick of a wrist. It’s walleyes by sleight of hand. It’s all about the “big tease.” And it’s a calculated process that can be learned. Those are the rules of the road for walleyes.