Using the Latest Boat Control Technology to Catch Walleyes

There are times when fishing for walleyes is like putting a candy bar on the coffee table in front of your 300-pound buddy who just started a diet. He might not eat it right away, but wait an hour and poof, that chocolate will be gone.

Fast moving tactics like trolling, or even slower techniques like rigging, do not work all the time. Conditions often dictate where jigging in one spot or suspending live bait below a slip bobber is critical just to entice a bite. The longer a walleye looks, the harder it is to resist.

A cold front or even the cold-water periods of early spring and late fall are two examples when anchoring often works.

There are times when you get on a spot, drift a rig, and won’t get any bites. But, you anchor, sit still and bang, then get hit. The fish are there, but they’re probably in a negative or neutral mood. The bait just needs to be in their face a little longer.

There are other times when anchoring will increase your odds, such as when you’re facing a stiff breeze or current and boat control becomes an issue.

But, despite an anchor’s effectiveness, it’s likely that half the anglers reading this article don’t even have an anchor in their boats. Anchoring is often overlooked—but it’s time to consider staying in one spot.

Anchoring in style

Anchors come in two shapes that are important to walleye anglers. One is a Water Spike type (lightweight with sharp points), which digs in clay, mud or sandy bottoms. The other is a Navy style anchor (heavy with 2 large claws). Navy style anchors are good on gravel, rocks or boulders.

Buy big. An 18- to 20-foot boat needs a 26- or even 28-pound anchor. Smaller boats can get away with lighter weights, but always favor on the heavy side. Anchors are useless if they don’t keep you in place. Using two anchors at the same time can help.

Have plenty of rope attached. If you don’t use enough, you will slip out of place and disturb the spot. About 150 feet of rope per anchor should do. Mark the rope at every 10-foot increment. If you slip and have to reset them, you’ll have an idea of how much to let out next time.

Drop anchors quietly. They can spook fish if you don’t.

Spot-Lock and Talon

The third style of anchoring isn’t even an anchor at all. Minn Kota trolling motors has revolutionize the “stay on one spot” technique with the Spot-Lock feature! With one touch of a button, the trolling motor takes over and via GPS, it keeps the boat in one spot, even in heavy winds. There is even a “Jog” feature, which allows you move in any direction in increments of 5 feet at a time. So now, you don’t even have to pull up and re-drop an actual anchor.

Another mechanical tool called the Talon is a shallow water-anchoring device, which drives a long spike right into the bottom with a touch of a button. The spike secures the boat to the bottom and keeps it in one place. For depths of 15 feet or shallower, the Talon works wonderfully!

Amazingly enough, with the combination of Spot-Lock and Talon, most of your actual “drop and retrieve” anchors have been rendered obsolete.

Tactics

You can often get an idea of what type of tactic you are going to try on a given day before you even get to the water. The tip comes at the bait shop and it’s free. Simply glance in the minnow tanks. Tightly-balled, non-moving minnows are responding to the same high pressure, cold front which is impacting the fish in the lake. Anchoring might be the ticket that day. If minnows are swimming freely, then search tactics may come into play.

The effectiveness of anchoring can change over the course of a single trip to the water, too. Walleyes that are active in low light may get lockjaw midday. Use an anchor as a tool to switch to slower tactics.

Anchoring is a spot-on-a spot tactic. You must be close to where walleyes are concentrated for it to work. Watch for fish on your sonar or stay close to some sort of structure.

The lesson learned—if action is slow enough that you are putting the anchor out, then give a spot some time. Twenty to thirty minutes is usually enough to tell if anything is going to happen.

Anchors away!

Anchoring is a great way to approach edges where the depth changes, or where you have weedlines or treelines.

On waters like Devils Lake, anchoring can be done right at the edge of submerged tree lines. Or at the edges of weeds.

The depth where anchors are effective can vary. You might want to anchor in a breeze so you can cast small jigs to wood or weed edges in shallow water near a point that holds fish.

Or, you may want to anchor to use slip bobbers to target a deep rock hump 40 feet down or more. In that case, anchor parallel to the waves and cast bobber rigs up wind. Let the breeze work the bait over the structure for you. Set the depth so your jig/bait is just a few inches off the bottom. The clearer the water or more wind, the higher you can get away with setting the rig off the bottom.

Anchors also help in rivers where there is current. Anglers have learned to hold themselves in one place with anchors at spots like the Rainy River, the Missouri River, as well as the Winnipeg River.

There was a time many years ago when Ted fished a tournament on the Missouri River out of Mobridge, SD, in high winds of 30+ mph. He was working rigs on the tip of a point for hours without a bite (it was so windy that moving anywhere else was impossible) until his batteries were expended. He knew there were fish around, so he threw an anchor on the point; it slipped. Threw it again; it slipped. Threw it one more time; it held. A Talon would have actually been perfect in this situation, but wasn’t even invented then. Once stationary and allowing some jigs and rigs to sit on the bottom, they produced a quick limit in 45 minutes along with a third place finish.

Anchors are put to good use in rivers like the Mississippi. Try using an anchor or Spot-Lock above the wingdams to cast crankbaits or live bait on three-way rigs at the base of the dam where active walleyes will stage to ambush forage.

Many anglers probably avoid anchors because of the work it takes to move to new spots. Well, not so fast. Change position in wind or current merely by moving the rope from the front of the boat to a cleat on either side. The motion of the water or wind swings you over new water to try. Letting out more rope does the same thing…. Or get a Minn Kota trolling motor, which has the Spot-Lock feature. You can move around by tapping the “Jog” feature, as described above.

But, don’t stay in one area so long that the post office starts to deliver your mail there. Try other places. If you’re so sure that the fish are there, fish the spot, come back later and try again. That lazy walleye just might be ready to reach for the candy bar when you return.