Cranking for walleye

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“Are you a walleye fisherman?” I was asked by the guy sitting in front of me.

“I love to fish for walleyes,” I replied. “I grew up in the upper Midwest and spent lots of time jigging for walleyes in the Mississippi River.”

Recently we were sitting in a packed house of anglers in the Events Center of Snappy Sports Senter in Kalispell where Bob Hickey, a walleye touring pro, was preparing to talk about crankbaits.

First emphasis from Hickey was safety.

“Check out your boat and your gear and make sure you have plenty of life jackets,” said Hickey.

“Trolling crankbaits is the fastest way to cover the water in depths from 1 to 30 feet,” Hickey went on, “but you must be sure your crankbaits are tracking straight and not wandering all over the place.”

Hickey and his fishing buddy, Jason Mundel, use a clip clevis to attach their favored Berkley Red Fire Tiger crankbait to 14-pound Fireline.

To tune the crankbait, Hickey recommends watching the lure’s action close to the boat, then pulling the line tight to the lure, all before using pliers.

“We run four lines (when legal), rigging two rods in the middle with 100 foot of line, then planer boards on either side with 50 foot of line. We use line counters to get consistent lengths.

“We generally start trolling at 2 mph, then adjust our speed depending on water depths.

“We’ve caught walleyes from 1 to 40 feet deep. The important thing is to cover the water column.”

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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