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Bernie Kuntz: Talking some walleye tales

Wherever you find walleyes you'll see anglers trolling spinner rigs for them. In the spring in shallow bays a couple split shot a few feet ahead of a spinner baited with a leech, nightcrawler or pickled minnow is a reliable lure for walleyes. Later in the season when walleyes are deep, a bottom-bouncer to take the spinner deep is an effective walleye producer.

Years ago in the late 1970s and early 1980s my family fished Cormorant Lake, Manitoba for pike and walleyes, and there is where I caught my first walleye over seven pounds. I took it on a Mister Twister Curly Tail Grub. I used the quarter ounce size jig with gray back and cream-colored belly.

Interestingly, three years ago in Saskatchewan one of my partners was John Thorp, who is as good with a jig as anyone I have ever met. At one point we were catching walleyes non-stop while trolling in 17 to 24 feet of water with deep-diving Rapalas and Canadian Wrigglers. One of us—I forget whom—suggested we try jigs. So we baited jigs with pickled minnows and rubber nightcrawlers, cut the trolling motor and jigged. And jigged and jigged. Laurie and I didn't get a single bite. John caught two walleyes. We went back to the deep-divers and immediately had action once again.

Most of the dozens of fishing trips I have taken to Canada over the decades have been between late May and early July, and during that time one of my favorite techniques is to troll a floating Rapala attached to a wire leader with snap and swivel. If you feel bold, use only a snap and swivel, but be prepared to lose a lure now and then when a pike breaks you off. I like to attach a rubber core sinker about two to three feet above the lure. This is a perfect outfit for trolling in four to 12 feet of water.

It may surprise some North Dakota anglers who have never fished the pre-Cambrian Shield for walleyes in Canada, but a lure I have found very effective in that vast expanse of pristine lakes and rivers is the Eppinger Dardevle spoon. I like to drift in my boat and cast and retrieve. The 2/5s ounce Imp is one of my favorites and I like all three sizes of the Devle Dog. My father used to favor the Cop-E-Cat, which is the same lure as the Krocodile spoon.

Color doesn't seem to matter—red-and-white is always reliable, blue-and-nickel, crackle frog, gray-scaled alewife, five-of-diamonds. Three summers ago John Thorp caught something like 16 walleyes from shore one evening in Saskatchewan while catching a five-of-diamonds Dardevle. He said three of them were 30 inches in length or more. One time I was casting a huge 1 1/4-ounce Troll Devle for pike when I caught a walleye that weighed between seven and eight pounds!

My old friend Tom Schneider from Aberdeen, SD called me a couple weeks ago, lamenting the fact that I had to miss the trip this year because of my health. He said he and his partners caught more walleyes on fire-tail pattern three-quarter ounce Dardevles than anything else.

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