How Technology Helps Us Catch More Hardwater Walleyes
Ice fishing for walleye is one of the most exhilarating ways to catch these fish, but they can be the most frustrating fish to chase due to their stubbornness. This is the reason using the latest technology can help you put way more fish topside. My ice guide clients often hear me refer to some of this tech as adult video gaming.
Here are 4 ways to catch more walleyes this ice season:
Track Them—Live sonar literally allows you to see the fish in an almost 3D form, to the point I can tell which way the fish are swimming and if it's towards my left or right rod, which is very important. The other big element that it helps with is the ability to see these fish for forty or more feet in any direction, you literally can see which way the school is moving and exactly how many of them there are. Allowing you to see this level of detail can be a huge player in narrowing down the best depth for walleye ice fishing in your area. I realize this technology is not in everyone’s budget, but you can’t deny its effectiveness.
The Mega Live on my Humminbird has confirmed things I have learned over the years in a matter of minutes, to say it shortens the learning curve is an understatement. It has changed the world of walleye ice fishing. The ability to see exactly how a fish responds to your presentation is critical. You know instantly when it's time to change either your lures or your cadence.
This winter I was even able to see fish spook on my Mega Live before they ever got into visible range of our 2D old-school flasher.
The blob near my finger is a walleye
Work Them—With all of this talk of Humminbird Mega Live sonar, many might think that I am ready to give up the flasher, but that’s hardly the case. While Live sonar has come a long way in a short amount of time as far as target separation, I still prefer 2D when fish are very closely engaged. Think of it as a mega-zoom. Much like tools, it's not if you want a wrench or a socket, but using the right tool for each situation. Ice fishing walleye is no different.
Mega Live and flasher combo
See Them—Cameras such as the Aqua-Vu can significantly help you catch more fish and not for the reason you may think. I rarely actively use the camera while in the act of fishing, which may sound weird, but bear with me. Instead, I use it for recon. Learning what is actually on the bottom and what species of baitfish you’re marking are things you can quickly confirm with a camera. When ice fishing walleyes during the day, while the sun is high and if the water is clear, it’s amazing what you can see with an Aqua-Vu. I’ll also use it when I’m getting short strikes or my electronic’s screen appears “busy”. In many cases, it's just undersized fish or a non-target species. These quick uses really have helped me catch fish time and time again.
Another great example of when a camera can help you catch more fish is when you aren’t fishing, but practicing. Yes, I said practicing! I have taught myself how to use many different types of lures by watching how they react to my jigging on the camera. You will be amazed to see not all lures are the same and how subtle different changes in your cadence can really change how a lure works.
Jiggle Them—I often hear how a rod can’t catch you the fish. I strongly disagree. When jigging for walleye ice fishing it’s crucial to have the correct setup. When fish are biting very light a super sensitive rod such as a G. Loomis ice rod makes a world of difference. Use one and compare it to the ice rods we all started with and you can’t deny that it’s the best walleye jig setup out there. The overlooked factor is how the rod handles your lures. Many walleye lures are heavy and can’t be properly presented without the correct walleye ice fishing setup. Watch it on an underwater camera and it will amaze you. For most of my walleye fishing, I use the 392 or 413 G. Loomis IMX Pro Series of rods. These two models will cover me from roughly 1/8oz walleye jigs all the way up to 3/4oz.
If you’re learning how to ice fish for walleye in this day and age, technology is going to be involved. No piece of equipment will help you catch fish unless you understand it and spend some time learning how it can help you and the full range of its capabilities.
Capt Ross Robertson