The Killer Bs: Live Bait and Boat Control

by: Mark Martin

No matter where or when you're fishing, the going can get tough with big winds and waves, everyone's least favorite conditions for chasing walleyes. But if you're on vacation, out for a tournament or way into angling, your time is too precious spend ashore unless the water¹s downright dangerous. But if it's still doable, it's time to get tough when the going gets rough. Under such circumstances, the twin pillars of my attack are live bait and boat control. I choose bait for the ability to present it with heavier weight and to keep bottom contact when casting jigs or trolling would be futile. Boat control, meanwhile, is a plain and simple necessity. When the wind and waves rock, keeping your craft in place to the best of your ability will translate into more walleyes. Seldom is it easy, but it can be accomplished with the right gear and approach under adverse conditions. Bait Control - Whether the weather' nasty or nice, you're going to want to put everything possible in your favor.

Bait Control

Whether the weather's nasty or nice, you're going to want to put everything possible in your favor. I start with high-quality bait. It's hard to beat lively, crazy leeches, and the best way to keep them or turn them that way is with a mesh bag container . Put your leeches in the tough mesh bag, sealable with Velcro, and put them in your livewell. It's better than in a foam cup, where the leeches crud and waste eventually kills them. The bag also lets the leeches acclimate to the water temperature so they don't ball up when you put one on a hook and drop it in the drink.

Storage is also important to keep my tackle from going into orbit. For rigs and jigs and whatnot, I take one of Plano's waterproof storage boxes and put my terminal tackle in there to keep it from rusting. Plano's Cinch Bags, which contain four tray-style boxes, are great for segregating jig weights and hook styles in a neat, tidy soft-sided container that's about the size of a briefcase. I also stock a tray with an assortment of goodies for bait fishing beads, including Northland's rattle beads; Gum-Drop Floats for suspending a bait; colored hooks; and swivels.

To store my bottom bouncers,I use a Bouncer Bag, also from Beckman Fishing, to organize my bouncers by weight and keep them from tangling and rusting on the boat's carpet.

With everything squared away, I start looking for prime walleye spots and plumbing them with a bottom bouncer with bait or a slip-sinker rig. From spring into early summer, I turn to points, With a line in the water, it's hard to beat a Northland Rock-Runner bottom bouncer or slide bouncer with a three-foot leader ahead of livebait. A slip-sinker rig will work, too, if you boost up the size of the weight to combat the wind. After all, you're going to need to find bottom and stay there. Depending on the depth and wind velocity, you might need a bouncer of one, two or three ounces. Where it's possible to run more than one rod, I like to hold one and put another in a rod holder. Pick a rod with a supple tip that lets a walleye bend the rod over without feeling anything. You just pick it up and set the hook.

It's a bit of a trick, though, to know when to set. With a V-armed
Rock-Runner bouncer, you're unable to feed line to a biting fish. Instead,
with the extra weight your bait will be nearly vertical below the boat, and
when you get a bite, you pull the fish along for a few seconds before
setting the hook. If you keep missing, switch to a sliding bouncer or a
slip-sinker rig that allows you to feed line.

Boat Control
Now's the time to keep your boat under control. While no small task in the rough stuff, it's again possible with the proper equipment. On my Lund 2025, a wide-beamed boat with high sides to deflect waves, I have a 109-pound-thrust transom mount and a 109-pound-thrust bowmount. Although the bowmount electric holds me in almost all conditions, if things get incredibly nasty, I'll opt for the 225-horsepower Mercury main engine to keep me in place or slow my drift. I just kick it in and out of gear.

Most of the time, I stay on the bowmount. Up there, I'm sure to fill the
front livewell for extra weight, even putting tackle on the front deck or a
big buddy. This will help keep your trolling motor propeller in the water.
Also when operating from the bow, I'll put out a drift sock  - The socks are nice because they pop open right away without even monkeying with them a great safety feature when the boat is pitching and yawing. I also keep the drift sock on a short leash a short rope, that is to help keep the propeller in the water.  

With everything in order, the hatches battened down and motors ready to rev, it's time to square off with the conditions. By fishing bait below the boat and slowing your craft as much as possible without flying, you'll stay in the fish zone longer. Of course that's easy on a nice day. Not so on a nasty one. Nevertheless, now's the time to do what it takes to keep you fishing despite the weather.  

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