eyes on the rocks!
Happy May Day! River levels are stable running pretty much at normal pool levels…unusual for May 1. Most years we’re just beginning to see snow melt from up north.
Yesterday water temp in the main channel was a solid 55, up to 61 in several backwaters. Combine these variables with normal pool levels and it’s time to chase walleyes on the rocks!
There are many, many variables here-river level, barometric pressure, time of day, configuration (shoreline rip-rap/wingdam/closing dam), subtle changes in configuration (high spots, low spots, gaps, misplaced rock piles) MOST IMPORTANT is forage base. No food=no fish
One of my favorite things is throwing cranks on the rocks for walleye. Retrieve cadence & lure profile are key- Most of the time you just wanna ‘tick’ the rocks about every 10 sec.- secondary is color. BUT color does make a difference!
The Bill Lewis Lures MR-6 is by far my fave when it comes to casting cranks on the rocks. When water warms another 10 degrees the ghost craw and hot mustard will be my go-to colors. Right NOW–its Rayburn Red.
Yesterday produced the most thrilling ‘eye so far this year. I was spot-locked at the optimum position to cast the MR-6 and ha just put a fat 16″ in the box. Before making the next cast I dropped the bait in the water at boatside just to check water clarity and observe the lure’s action.
This 25″ mama came charging out from under the boat and GARWOOFLED that Rayburn Red! Absolutely CRUSHED IT. Three feet of line with a 5 lb. walleye gagging on one end and 190 lb river rat squealing like a little girl on the other.
She inhaled the bait so deep i had to put her in the livewell to save her, creating a situation which could lead to an encounter with the warden and a possible career ending ticket.
One of my major mentors growing up was a crusty old game warden named ‘Sprink ‘ Hensal. His wisdom ‘if you put the resource first you’ll never be wrong’ have been my lifetime mantra
Sometimes when you put a fish in the livewell they will puke out the lure. After a few minutes I checked. The MR 6 was still deep in her craw, one barb actually stuck in a gill plate.
Using the jaw spreaders & a side cutter i was able to snip off the hook and remove the lure. Back in the livewell she went to hopefully recover.
Five minutes later I approached the livewell with trepidation. What would Sprink do if the fish was belly up? A 25″ walleye is far too big to keep, BUT feeding a wayward eagle to avoid a ticket is wasting a truly valuable resource.
Please ponder this dilemma for a sec…..So i opened the livewell. Found her sassy, happy and ready to go! Releasing this fish was a joyful experience on many levels.
The best is knowing she is out there waiting to thrill YOU. I have several openings this week, and the last week in May. Rest of the time I’ll either be out there on the River or at the MD. When your body is out of warranty, it takes a team to keep it runnin’. No complaints. Every day is a gift…and I’m thankful to open mine most days in the boat, setting the hook.