The true stars of the walleye angling world aren’t the personalities who spend the most time in front of the camera. Most anglers would much prefer to see their leading ladies thrashing the water alongside the boat wrapped in nothing but a fish net. Unfortunately, the idols of our affection (double-digit walleyes) tend to limit their exposure to cameo appearances.
The biggest fish in any pond don’t grow to legendary proportions by being reckless and readily accessible. They do so by living a mysterious, reclusive life that only makes them that much more desireable. As the saying goes, that which we cannot have is that which we desire the most. However, under the surface of those great expanses of water there’s a soap opera going on. It’s all about relationships, lust, power and greed. It’s a world that many anglers never see. It’s the edge of darkness.
Follow along as we take a look at four familiar scenes. They show how our heroes (double-digit walleyes) managed to become matinee idols, but they also provide some insight that might just help you get more than a passing glance at one of our sport’s biggest stars.
Ima is a 34-inch walleye that lives in the exceptionally clear water of leech lake in northern Minnesota. She’s broken many hearts in May and November, but is seldom seen the rest of the year.
Ima lives on a three-story estate on a remote reef that experiences moderate fishing pressure. Anglers often catch smaller members of Ima’s family and staff while working the edges and the top of the reef on days when there’s at least a ripple on the water, but hardly ever encounter Ima or her adult friends.
The reason is simple. Ima only comes out to play during low-light periods. The rest of the day, she can either be found stretched out in the nearby deep-water mud home or maintaining her girlish figure by exercising her fins while hanging in the middle of the nearby water column like a sunbathing starlet.
The best way to get up close and personal with Ima is to fish the hour before sunrise and the hour or so after sunset when her wanton lust for food overcomes her otherwise shy personality. Occasionally, greed can get the best of Ima, too. Even though her tummy is full, she’s been known to snap at a tantalizing red-tail chub or leech dangling before her when she’s avoiding her fans.
Rod is an unusual specimen. He’s a male walleye that has lived for approximately 15 years in a smaller lake that doesn’t feature elaborate rockpile condominiums or multi-level reefs.
This lake isn’t as clear as Ima’s home water, but Rod still tends to avoid shallow water during daylight hours. Some say it’s because the light hurts his sensitive eyes. Others insist it’s simply his nature.
However, as our soap opera unfolds, we discover that Rod has a character flaw. He’s on a power trip, and every night he cruises a nearby flat looking for trouble. He can be caught in the act by an angler armed with a big crankbait such as a Rapala Husky Jerk, a Storm Thundercrank or a Storm Thunderstick.
Rod also exhibits tendencies of greed. Occasionally, when there’s a bit of wind and some cloud cover, he’ll continue his evening rampage a bit after sun-up, making him accessible to a few more anglers sneaky enough to slip into his lair without spooking him.
Like Ima, Rod goes one of two directions when he’s not on the prowl. He can either be found suspended over the open water or resting along the bottom of the first deep breakline.
Sally seldom spends more than one night in the same place. She’s a walleye of the world who loves the open spaces. It’s served her well for years, and because of the miles she covers, she’s still a looker after years and years of her nomadic existence.
As much as anything, Sally is a free spirit. She lacks the natural caution that keeps smaller walleyes hiding in the weeds and rocks. She knows she can handle herself and is in little, if any, danger no matter where she ventures.
Sally isn’t on a schedule. She travels with a gang of big walleyes, and there is always plenty of food nearby. When she’s hungry, she simply eats whether it’s the middle of the night or the middle of the day.
It’s not impossible to catch up to Sally. She has developed some tendencies over the years, like suspending in the depths adjacent to major points and mid-lake humps. Once an angler knows where to look, he or she can isolate Sally through the use of quality electronics like Lowrance’s X-19 sonar unit.
You might just get Sally to come aboard with a flashy crankbait or a seductive spinner and crawler rig. And once you’ve found her and her friends, lock in the coordinates on your Lowrance Global Map 6000 so you can return later. There’s always a reason walleyes show up in certain areas.