Even though the ice season is fresh upon us, I already felt the need to try my hand at a different species. Having been out on the ice a number of times this year, the crappies, for the most part, have proved to be more than willing biters and have been nice in size.
Never-the-less, a change was in store and that’s where Big Winnie walleyes come in. A call was made to Ryan Peterson of “Ryan Peterson’s Guiding”.
Fairly new to the guiding scene, Peterson has been taking people fishing, off and on, for the past four years during the open water period. A painter by trade, his business slows down enough in the winter to allow him a winter guiding business.
Focusing on the south end of Big Winnie, he has three rental units, which include a day house and two sleepers. Although Peterson is thinking of adding another rental to his small fleet, he says the three currently keep him busy, as he is always checking on them to make sure all is okay with his clients. Too much time without any serious fish activity and it’s time to move.
It’s sometimes tough to keep up with the fish, at times, as they can move about a lot easier than a fish house is able to. Last weekend was a prime example of that.
Prior to my drive to Bena, the walleyes were currently on a sporadic bite that went on throughout the entire day, with perch chiming in every once in a while. That sounded perfect for me. Who doesn’t like action?
Well, wouldn’t you know it? When “Cold-Front Clusiau” shows up, things have a habit of changing. My past experiences of Winnie’s winter walleyes, had them biting during the low-light conditions of early-morning and right at dusk and that’s just what happened. The fish were back to their normal habits and I would have to deal with it.
For me, that’s never a problem. I’m always content to put in my time and play with the perch throughout the day. The walleyes could wait and they did.
Although the fish were shut down a bit on this weekend, we still managed a few nice walleyes. Some, in the 14-16” range, went home for dinner, along with a handful of jumbo perch. Plenty for a meal. As an added bonus, one larger walleye, which was too big to keep, was caught, photographed, and released.
The best baits for us were smallish Northland Tackle “Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons” and Lindy’s “Darter”. The spoon, tipped with a piece of minnow, provided the majority of the action and while most people use only the minnow head on the business end of this presentation, I often use the minnow tail. It gives the lure a life-like appearance and flutters with the slightest movement.
The “Darter” was used every once in a while to draw fish into the hole, as it has a larger profile and like the spoon, has rattles. Make a little noise and get their attention. They’ll let you know if they want to eat it or not and it did happen a few times with the “Darter”, catching one walleye and some of the jumbo perch as well.
At day’s end, Peterson grinned when commenting on his ice-guiding endeavor, saying “not a lot of people can say they love their job but I’m working on it.” He sure is.
I should mention that ice conditions were excellent, measuring in the 15” range, and I drove my truck out onto the lake.
by Greg Clusiau