Pro Fisherman Jason Feldner cranks the trees to nail big reservoir walleye. He has special tools to allow you to pinpoint these babies.
by Ron Anlauf
Late summer reservoir walleyes can be a tough nut to crack but it doesn’t have to be that way. Not if you’re willing to put a road trip to a big western reservoir like Sakakawea andLake Oahe in North and South Dakota in your monthly planner. Red hot summerwalleye action is waiting for those that make the trip, especially if you get pointed in theright direction and why we tapped Humminbird Pro and full time guide Jason Feldner ofMinnewaukan, North Dakota for a little help (OK; a lot) for some help.
Location is by far the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to reservoir walleyes. Jason on the “where”: “You can basically eliminate the upper reaches of a reservoir and concentrate on the basin areas (deeper bottom end). As a rule of thumb walleyes move up early in the season and head back down and stack up on main lake structure by mid-summer. On Sakakawea that’s sunken islands or humps and I look forthose that top out in the eighteen to twenty-four foot range.
With today’s high definitionel ectronic maps finding potential hotspots isn’t all that difficult. LakeMaster has a newly surveyed and dead on map that I can display on my Humminbird 1198c graph and G.P.S.combination and makes the job a whole a lot easier and saves even somebody who hasspened to spend a lifetime on the water like me a lot of time.
Something to consider is the fact that reservoir water levels can fluctuate quite a bit and with the ‘Bird and the Lake Master map you can adjust to the current lake level and have accurate depth info. With the map I can find the structure and with Humminbird Side Imaging I can quickly take a look at itand see if there are reservoir walleye on top, on the sides, or may even be suspended over deeperwater.
The reservoir walleye that are on top are going to be active and can definitely be caught. Fish that are down the break or suspended might be active but you’ll have to run a bait through them to find out for sure.” Presentation can vary but Jason relies heavily on cankbaits and leadcore to pickoff summer walleyes.
Jason on pole bending: “With leadcore and a deep diving crankbait like a Lindy Shadling or a Reef Runner I can get down quickly and run a bait through reservoir walleye that I’m marking and find out if they’re active. If they are; they bite. If not it’s time to move on because I know there are biting fish somewhere.” Jason likes colors that mimic the forage which includes shad and smelt like Wonderbread and Mooneye that have a lot of white.
When you look at Oahe versus Sakakawea the available structure can vary and includes flooded trees which can hold big schools of bait and reservoir walleyes. Jason on fishy timber:”Oahe has a lot of trees that are standing in about fifty feet of water that top out maybetwenty feet below the surface and can be loaded with fish. To find out where they are in all that timber I’ll run outside the tree line in deeper water and scan it with my SideImaging which will show the trees, the bait, and the fish. Schools of bait will look like little cigars and if the bait is there the walleyes are there, no doubt. From my current boat position I can move the cursor on the ‘Bird and then drop a waypoint on the areas whereI’ve marked fish and then make sure I hit them when I get the lines in the water.”
Jason uses the same set-up for tree-toppers which includes the aforementioned leadcore and cranks in the same colors along with chrome blue which does a good job of imitating smelt which is much more predominant in Oahe. He’ll also run a spinnerbait like a 3/4oz Booyah with silver and gold willow leaf blades behind leadcore which is much more snag resistant and will let you get closer to the treetops without constantly hangingup.
Getting as close as you can is one of the keys to being effective and you can figureon losing a few baits.
The hot summer reservoir walleye action will be here and gone before you know it so times a wastin’. If you’d like to book a trip with Jason you can reach him at 701-351-1294 or [email protected] See you on the water.