The wind blows relentlessly. The thunder rolls. It rains almost daily. Some of the worst flooding since 1986 took place last week. Incredibly, it has had little effect on the Saginaw Bay walleye bite.
Fishing continues to be excellent from south of Pt. Augres all the way around the bay to the “Slot” south of Sand Point. Limit catches are common whether one chooses to fish the shallow waters or the deeper walleye haunts. The bay is literally loaded with huge concentrations of walleye. Crank baits, especially Flicker Shads, spoons and crawler harness are all highly productive. Color hasn’t seemed to matter on the harnesses, but it has with the crank baits and spoons, so experimentation will be necessary with them.
Last week the fish were suspending more in the deeper water, as the best bites seemed to come 10-15 feet off bottom. For us, that meant running crawler harnesses behind three-ounce weights 37-47 feet behind in-line boards while trolling at 1.3-1.5 mph (GPS speed). The heavier weights achieve the desired trolling depth with less line out which results in far fewer tangles.
Large numbers of smaller walleye and increasing numbers of big perch require a change in harness rigging. To avoid the “bite-offs” of smaller fish, try using one half to three quarters of a crawler on the two-hook harnesses. An angler will use a lot fewer crawlers, avoid cleaned hooks because he didn’t see the bite, and big fish will not shun the smaller offerings.
Finally, a sobering word from a Coast Guard Officer: “I’ve never pulled a dead body from the bay that was wearing a life jacket.” When seas start to build, get those life jackets on and head for shore!
Capt. Terry R. Walsh