Tips From the Pros
Let the River Run Wild
Well outdoorsman, here we are, feeling the change of seasons from winter to spring. With the transition of weather we all have similar battles deciding on what to do this time of year. Some of these things might be trading in your pants for shorts, dusting off the lawn mower for the first cut of the year, or even getting a late start on the diet from your New Year's resolution. However, the idea that comes to my mind is to grab your fishing gear and hit up the local river for some sometimes "over-looked" fish.
During this time of year many people don't take the time on some fun filled species of fish that not only are fun to catch but good to eat, such as Walleye, Suckers, and Steelhead. I say over-looked not because you might not know they are there, or that you don't know how to fish for them, but these species of fish are not viewed as a fun type of fish sometimes. I feel these three species of fish are sometimes never pursued due to lack of knowledge of the fish, looked at as a boring fish to catch, and/or they're not shown on TV like, say Bass or saltwater fish are.
If these species have been in the back of your mind, research them. The internet is a great way to learn the setups, rigs, approach and calendar of having the best success rate. Once you become educated on these fish, I recommend involving a family member, or a friend that you can enjoy the experience with and that can learn with you. If you know how to fish these specific species, take someone that's never fished for them and pass on your knowledge. One of our favorite things about fishing is passing down knowledge and getting others involved.
As for ways to approach these fish, there are many to choose from. Most importantly, know when the fish are "running". Running is a term used by fishermen to tell when the particular fish are in the river heavy due to their inner sense of migration for reproduction, also known as spawning. The good thing about this is it's easier to find where the fish are schooled up. Look for fishermen to be grouped up on a break jigging for Walleye, or sitting on the bank fishing deep holes in the rivers bend for Suckers, or driving by waterfalls and fish ladder's packed with Steelhead fishermen.
For Walleye there are more tips and ways to fish for these buggers than there are bucks on EP Pro-Staffer Lannie Ross' wall. You can run anything from crank baits and minnow tipped slip bobbers to vertical jigging or just simply dragging a crawler along the bottom of your local lake or river. 6'- 7' ft. medium-light action rods seem to be most popular topped with your favorite spinning reel; 6-12# monofilament or braided line is my preferred choice. Now remember most Walleye don't run up into the 10 plus pound range, so there is little need to go overkill on your tackle.
Some anglers consider Suckers to be garbage fish, but in my experience they're are about as much fun as one can have with a fishing rod in-hand. These odd looking fish are great starter fish, much like bluegills are, for youngsters; heck they're great for all ages. They can be so much fun to catch and they make for a great day on the banks of the river for the whole family. Tackle for these somewhat majestic fish is quite plain and simple; all you need is any old fishing rod and sinkers ranging from 1/4 - 4oz., depending on river current. A good #4 bait holder hook topped off with a big slimy night crawler is all you need to have great family oriented time fishing!
Now, onto the "silver bullet", the Steelhead. The Steelhead, much like Walleye, has seemingly endless ways of approach. Some of the more popular ways include: drifting slip bobbers with flies, spawn, or wax worms underneath, to bottom bouncing flies and spawn through good undercut banks, all the way to sitting at the head of a hole and letting deep diving crank baits work. Rods seem to vary with 9'-12' noodle rods seeming to be the best bet. Most any mid to large size spinning reel with a good drag should be just fine, spooled up with anywhere from 4-12 lb. line being the most common. Another good thing to have is a fishing partner and a net, because once you get the hook set, these fish can reach blistering speeds. So put on your waders and head to the river, but remember, hold to on!
Research these species and get to know how to fish for them, or ask a friend that's knowledgeable. Go into fishing these species with the mind set that you're new to that particular game and at first you might not catch as many fish as you'd like. Even if that's the case, look at the beauty of the environment around you and what it has to offer.
Well, I hope I fired you up a bit about spring fishing for the "overlooked" fish. I assure you it is a worthwhile pastime. So until next time keep your hooks sharp and your waders strapped. Good luck and God Bless!