by Keith Nelson
I’m not really sure where plastics took a hold in the fishing industry, but I believe the big push came with tournament bass fishers. I have had the opportunity to discuss this with some ole timers. They had made mention that they had cut balloons up into small strips to tip small baits for pannies some 40 years back. I am sure that the big push came from the bass guys. The old standard for walleyes when it came to plastics has been Mr. Twisters grub. If I can recall my first experience came when I was about 8 years old. I was casting my new found hot bait and I caught several species that year. Many pike, bass and what really counted in our family…that always elusive walleye.
Dad was a died in the wool meat fisherman. He always had a minnow, leech, crawler or frog strapped on what he was tossing at those fish. I can remember checking the minnow or leech traps or there was picking crawlers in the back yard just as it got dark or then again netting frogs at the nearest swamp or river lagoon.
It seemed we were always after bait because after all we fished a ton and needed it.
There was so much time spent not only catching bait, but keeping it alive. There was a time Mom and Dad had a heated argument. It seems she was none too happy with night crawlers all over the inside of her new refrigerator when someone knocked the lid off of the crawler box. I shall go nameless. Actually I just recently recanted the story and made my amends to my Dad not too long ago on a fishing trip. He let me off of the hook, beside his new cooler in the garage was just what he was hoping for anyway. Now he could really stock up on bait along with a few extra cool ones for him and his buddies on those hot summer days.
Well as things would have it I grew up moved away.
Being away from dear old Dad allowed me to experiment with other styles of fishing. Keeping bait alive was just too much and truthfully plastics seemed a lot cheaper than buying real baits. Living in the big city I just did not have the habitat to chase down the real stuff as I had been taught.
Another thing I found out was that I could control the bait sizing. I had thought back to those minnows. When the bite was tough we were done fishing as soon as all of the small minnows were used up. With the plastics I always had another bait exactly the same size. Now I was done when I felt I had caught enough for the trip. The point is I was no longer getting shut down prematurely and another benefit is that I can control the color. Depending on water clarity a fisher can cover a wide spectrum of colors . Talk about getting dialed in!
Several years ago the paddle tail minnow evolved. Strapped onto a jighead it can be trolled or cast and retrieved right in the zone that the fish are holding.
For me this is a perfect way to catch walleyes.
Most lakes have weedbeds. The outside of these beds in 8 to 12 feet of water is where I will be targeting one of my most favored species. It is pretty simply to learn. By trolling a quarter oz. jighead 1.5 to 1.7 mph you can stay just off of the bottom, right where the walleyes are lurking when they come out of the depths to feed. You may need to speed up a hair or slow until you see you are making bottom contact. The same holds true while casting and retrieving. Speeding up or slowing will adjust so that the bait runs in the zone. Working deeper water just means you will need a heaver jighead.
Some plastic baits contain a bit more hardener in the plastisol so the action may not be as lively at slower speeds . You will have to check a few brands out and there are many brands to choose from. Mr. Twister makes a dynamite Sassy Shad and Northland Tackle makes a Mimic Minnow which over the years has grown to be my go to paddle tail style go-to bait. I like the 2 1/2″ or the 3″ for size and again colors will vary depending on water clarity.
When it comes to grubs, anything can be deadly as long as it is in the zone and it is the right size and color. Of course Northlands Slurpie with hawg sauce is a great choice. Remember speed can kill the presentation. No matter what your chasing boat control is a major factor in your ability to say fish on!
I’ve been back home for a bit over 20 years now which is the Aitkin county area and being home Dad and I are back in the boat again. It took a bit of proving, but I can’t recall the last time he asked for some live bait and at over 80 years old I can say the old dogs can learn new tricks.
Tight Lines guys and if you are ever looking to add a new trick to the bag, stop by your local tackle shop to pick up some plastics. They really do catch walleyes.
Check out the Video Below For Walleyes & Plastics