Whether you are fishing natural or manmade bodies of water, riprap needs to be high on your structural hit list. In natural lakes these areas could consist of islands, reefs, gravel flats, or boulders, and in manmade lakes, jetties, boat ramps, old roadbeds, long straight shorelines, or even the dam. They all attract baitfish, which in turn creates ample feeding opportunity for the predator fish. Establishing the dry side of this structure is easy, but recognizing the subsurface fish-holding structure is the key! The use of quality electronics is absolutely essential in pinpointing abnormalities beneath the surface, and then placing your bait in the strike zone.
Trolling these long, straight shorelines can be an excellent form of scouting, while still having an opportunity to contact fish. However, recognizing and returning to the areas that will most likely hold additional numbers fish, and then casting to them could be all it takes to loading the boat!
The fish were staged in that specific area for a purpose, by returning to those structural elements and picking them apart by casting a Berkley Flicker Shad you can catch every hungry and willing fish. Apply all the factors that make a specific spot productive to other areas of similar fish-attracting structure, and then replicate your presentation; your productivity will shoot through the roof.
Total Solutions Technique
“When determining why fish stage on a specific location, I am actually looking for an irregularity in the riprap,” explains Kavajecz. “Whether that’s a point where they dumped extra rock during construction, a turn that is near a marina, or perhaps where the riprap transitions to sub-straight. If I have been catching fish in the same spot during numerous trolling passes, I will typically return and cast to these locations to work the active fish.”
“One thing to keep in mind when casting crank baits is walleyes will often swipe at and miss the bait,” he says. “By using a sensitive line like Berkley FireLine, you can actually feel the hesitation that comes with a missed strike and the best thing you can do is pause for a second, then continue cranking. A fairly steady retrieve is best, but I will often play around with the speed. For example, if you are feeling the hesitation we discussed, try speeding up your retrieve and you will often get reaction strikes as they have less time to determine what they are eating.”
“Another great thing to keep in mind when casting cranks is to pause as the bait nears the boat. This will often entice following fish into eating, especially if they have been nosing your bait for most of your retrieve,” Kavajecz continues. “Just as the bait is coming into view underwater, pause – what’s cools is sometimes you will actually see the walleye hit the Flicker Shad.”
Kavajecz says when casting crankbaits at riprap it is imperative that you keep in mind how steep it is. Real steep riprap will require a bait that dives faster and for that he prefers a 7cm Berkley Flicker Shad. It is critical that your crank bait closely follows the contour of the bottom during the first 10 feet of your retrieve, as that is where the majority of your strikes will occur. When fishing under shallower conditions, he recommends downsizing to a 5cm Flicker Shad.
Total Solutions Equipment
When casting, Kavajecz prefers to have his spinning reels loaded with 10-pound Berkley FireLine on 7-foot rods for a good, long cast. Being able to keep contact with your bait and the structure is crucial to keeping your Berkley Flicker Shad in front of more hungry fish. It is still important to match the size of your presentation to the fish you are pursuing. In systems where the fish are bigger use the larger 7cm size, and downsize where the fish are smaller on average. Kavajecz uses a small #1 Berkley Cross-Lok Snap to attach the crankbait to the FireLine.
Color preferences are often determined by the water clarity or turbidity, but some of his favorites are Purple Pearl, Black-Silver, Shad, Black Gold Sunset, Purple Tiger, Chartreuse Pearl and FireTiger. As with his trolling preferences, Kavajecz’s go-to color combo is the Pearl White. For a complete list of Berkley Flicker Shad color options, view the Flicker Shad Color Chart.