Sam's Tips
Sam's Tip
Over the years I fish many different bodies of water. I travel hundreds of miles on my way to the next lake, river or reservoir only to start the process of finding fish over again. These are conditions that not only professional anglers go through each tournament, but also the weekend anglers. Does your family take a vacation in the summer time and fish a different area that you did last year? Have you on all occasions found fish? Once you have time to think about the day and conditions do you make note of this in a little black book? Can you find an answer to type of lure and match it with the conditions from your little black book? If you have answered yes to any of these questions you probably should look into a new computer software program called WayPoint's LakeMaster.
Believe me I use to carry my little black book from tournament to tournament and eventually it was a diary of my past experience. I could sit and reread it at night, but it did not help me when I was on the water. What I needed was an easy-to-use electronic journal that I could access from my laptop computer that I carried with me to all the tournaments.

LakeMaster is a multi-function, CD-ROM based, Lake Depth mapping application developed to enhance the current methods, tools and information used by the sport fishing market. In addition to the ability to display and print a large number of detailed custom colored Lake Maps, it has the ability to import or export GPS points for any location in the Lake Map database. These GPS points can be transferred to or from hand held GPS receivers for in-boat use and for maintaining a detailed fisherman's database of fish caught.

The ability to determine fishing locations by exporting GPS coordinates prior to arriving on the lake is only a small part of LakeMasters helpful tools. LakeMaster also has the ability to maintain a detailed historical database of all fish caught. This detailed 'fishing log' database manager includes the location, fishing conditions or weather, fish species and statistics, bait or lures used and even has a remarks section to record the fishing technique or presentation that was used.

Each State edition of LakeMaster will have a statewide map database including all of the detailed LakeMaster Lakes depending on which state your edition is for. Each LakeMaster Lake will display all necessary lake details including depth contours, islands, reefs, points, bays and access points. In addition to the detailed LakeMaster lakes, each LakeMaster state database will show the name, coordinate location and shoreline (no depth contours) of all remaining lakes in the state that are approximately 200 acres or larger. The statewide map database will also include all standard geographic features such as roads, highways and cities for easy orientation when searching or driving to a specific lake.

Sam's Tip
Shallow water fishing in the spring is overlooked by many anglers, but it can be one of the most productive methods of boating some fresh walleyes. Shortly after ice-out, male walleyes in the 1 to 3 pound range will move into shallow spawning areas. The best spawning sites are large sloping shallow bars with a bottom composition of gravel. The aggressive male walleyes will hold over these areas for a month or more and feed aggressively during, before and after spawning. The larger walleyes are most always females, and although they can be taken during the pre spawn period, they are virtually impossible to take while spawning and reluctant to bite for a two-week period following the rigors of procreation.
I like to attach a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce Timb'r Rock jig to the end of the line instead of a plain hook. The Timb'r Rock jig allows you to present live bait or plastic in all kinds of cover without fear of snags. Due to its unique "weight centered" design, it lands upright every time. The patented seven strand wire guard protects the hook point from hang-ups. I like the color that a jig head adds, plus I need to add a little extra weight to pull the line down to the preset depth when using a jig head. If you use this slip bobber method, it will enable you to jig your bait vertically without positioning yourself over the top of the structure. With little or no wind you'll have action on the bobber. This can easily be achieved by sweeping the rod about a foot at a time. It might seem simple, and it is, but the results will astound you.

Probably the best method, or my favorite is, to timb'r doodle them with a jig. The No-Snagg Veg-E-Jig from Lindy is without a doubt the best way to fish timber. This jig allows you to penetrate the toughest brush pile on the water without getting hung up. The front eyelet position and the slender profile allows the Veg-E-Jig to slip through all weed vegetation and timber without all the frustrations of snags. Like the Timb'r Rock jig it also has the seven strand wire guard that protects the hook from snags, but this jig has the super strong, ultra sharp Gamakatsu hook and that makes for an awesome live bait delivery system. By dipping your bait into various spots in the flooded timber you will find that many walleyes are present and willing to bite.

Sam's Tip
A good friend of mine always said, “In order to be successful on the water you have to spend some time in the garage”. That is very true and it not only pertains to your tackle box put also your vehicle.
One item that I use extensively that makes my life easier and is the aluminum boxes that are put out by Dee Zee. They are constructed of heavy-duty Mill Finish Aluminum that is welded for superior strength and performance. The Mill Finish Storage Boxes are included in a line of heavy duty truck accessories all under the label of Diamond Brite.

Dee Zee has incorporated a new molded channel, which is formed directly from the box panels. These panels are welded together forming a solid, single piece design for years of trouble free service. Around their new channel is a one-piece Neoprene bulb seal, which keeps the elements out and the contents of the boxes dry. Locking Stainless Steel T-latches are used to ensure the safety and security of your contents.

Inside one these boxes I carry spare line and reels. I might get to the lake and discover I forgot to change reels for the conditions I am fishing so I can just step to my truck and select a reel or line.

Inside another box I will carry all my unused crankbait, jigs, live bait, plastics that I don’t have in my current boxes in the boat. I might also in another box carry my rope, duct tape, pliers, tools etc. The boxes are arranged in the toppered bed of my truck so that when I go fishing I have all these things at my fingertips.

Organization and knowledge of where items are at either in your tackle boxes, boat or vehicle will improve your success this year. As I prepare for the season I think of what it is like to prepare my taxes and how organized I have to be. The only trouble is I know where my fishing equipment is, but I have misplaced the receipt to those crankbaits I bought last August with that candy bar.

Sam's Tip
As I pulled my Ranger 620 VS out of the garage the other day I started to think that many anglers don't realize that a boat is an extremely important part of your fishing presentation. Hundreds of articles have been written about how important your rod, line, and bait selection are, but few, if any have been written concerning your boat and how it is a factor in helping you to catch fish.
I know what you are thinking at this point. You probably think that a boat gets a person to a specific spot that you can't reach from shore. That is true, but your boat does more than that. Think about what you have in your boat. Yes, it is true that it not only makes it easy for you to reach the spot, but also your tackle, thermos and cooler. Again, your boat is more than an object to carry items, it is part of how you present your bait so that fish find it attractive enough to bite.

What then do you need to look for in a boat.? The answer of course will describe what kind of fishing you prefer and what items in a boat, "creature features" you can't live without. For example, how does this particular boat drift? Will it drift faster from the stern or bow? What or how do you need to compensate for an uneven drift? Do you need a bow mount trolling motor or a stern mounted trolling motor? Does your boat give you a dry ride? Are there places in the boat that are advertised as dry storage, but in a torrential down pour you discover that your expensive camera is ruined? How does the wind effect the boat? Does this boat have big enough side boards to take rough water?

My answer to all of these questions have been addressed by Ranger Boats. The Ranger Fisherman series boast an entire line of formidable fishing machines. From walleye and musky to bass and crappie, these multi-species rigs are among the most versatile anglers have to choose from. Whether it’s the rigorous demands of professional walleye trails or simply a weekend get away, this series is specifically geared to deliver superior performance both on and off plane. The 620 VS sports a deeper, wider vee hull to crush rough water. It’s bog 50” aerated livewell is positioned at the stern so re-entry in rough water carries a softer; more stable feel. Fuel capacity measures 50 gallons and is located on the center line of the hull for faster hole shots, solid tracking and responsive boat control. The 602’s integrated engine set back not only enhances acceleration, but virtually eliminates backwash from sudden stops.

Inside there’s a world of lockable storage and a built in cooler sits just in front of the passenger console. Gauges and electronics are positioned on the upper portions of the instrumentation panel while an all new digital switching system lines the lower panel. The 620 VS is a console boat that is 19’10” in length. If you are a tiller person Ranger has also included a the 620T. This is a beautiful boat that is 20’ 1/2” and is rated for a 115 – 125 HP motor.

Sam's Tip
The key was a slow and silent approach to my presentation. The outboard was shut off and the MotorGuide trolling motor was lowered into the water. I replaced my terminal tackle from walking sinkers and spinners to a single hook and split shot with a #8 hook. The hook was baited with a nightcrawler and allowed to dangle so that the tail of the nightcrawler could float off the bottom. I released about 45 yards of line and I backtrolled, back and forth, with this long-line presentation.
The long line reduces feel but allows time for the boat to pass overhead and for the spooked walleyes to regroup. When the boat finally passes by the fish, they hit it with a subtle gentle tug, rather than smashing the bait.

A couple of hours of fishing produced 17 eating size walleyes up to 2 1/2 pounds, nothing enormous, but I had some fun and the other fisherman were still sitting on the drop-off areas. Of course still “waiting for the fish to feed”.

Long-line trolling is very effective method to use on summertime walleyes. Not only can you use live bait, but crankbait fishing is very productive during the summer months as well.

To many anglers trolling means tossing out a crankbait, throwing the rod in a holder, then sitting back and soaking up the sun. In reality it is much more, especially when you turn off the gas engine and use your MotorGuide electric motor to provide a long-line solution to catching some summertime walleyes.

Sam's Tip
When a person spends as many days on the water a year as I do, it's important that they fish in as much comfort as possible. The comfort level also is important when it comes to selection of a motor. My choice are Mercury Motors.
Mercury’s newest form of motors incorporates an onboard computer system called SmartCraft. SmartCraft operates in conjunction with the company’s 2002 OptiMax outboards to gather data from sensors all over the boat. It then uses that data to monitor over 15 different systems, including speed and fuel flow, then automatically adjusts each operation to peak efficiency. Like your car, SmartCraft responds to operator input, so you can program your engine and boat to perform exactly the way you want. Functions include Troll Control, which sets rpm up to 1,000. This function alone is ideal especially if I am pulling trolling boards or if I have multiple lines out forward trolling. It allows me to sit at my console and monitor my depthfinder and use the steering wheel to follow the active fish.

Although the backtrolling technique is still ideal for vertical jigging and live-bait rigging in deep water walleye professionals today favor trolling forward with a small “kicker,” typically a 9.9 to 15 hp outboard. Why? It allows them to fish large bodies of water such as reservoirs more effectively at higher speeds than electric trolling motors can sustain. Forward-trollers commonly use crankbaits, bottom bouncers or weighted three-way rigs with crankbaits, spinners or spoons.

My Ranger 620 boat is equipped with a small four-stoke kicker motor from Mercury. It allows me to fish all day without using much fuel. This small engine is extremely quiet which makes for a more pleasant angling experience.

Sam's Tip
Plastic baits are productive year 'round but I really like them during warm weather. When the water is warm, fish are frequently more willing to chase a bait. Plastic bait can be moved quickly, so more water can be covered. The more water you cover, the more walleyes you'll have the opportunity to catch.
A jig heavier than normal is required to move the bait along at a quick pace. Quarter and three-eighths ounce heads are the sizes I use the most with plastics in warm weather, but eighth ounce heads are used in a variety of circumstances also.
Walleyes will frequently spread out over shallow flats or on points. When they do so, try front trolling at a fairly quick clip. Tie on a jig and plastic trailer heavy enough to stay near the bottom as the boat moves along. As the trolling pass is made, sweep the rod so the bait jumps, then falls back to the bottom. A 6'6" Quantum medium heavy action spinning rod with XT in eight to ten pound test will be about right.
Berkley has come out this year with bait that is super for trolling or drifting flats; it is called the Bungee Worm or Bungee Grubs. No other plastic baits come close to resembling the new Bungee Baits from Berkley. Their tails have a lifelike curling action built in to the bait. They wiggle with a natural recoil action with the slightest movements of the bait.

This summer when the weather heats up and walleyes are turned off, by live bait switch to the Bungee Worm and you might be surprised that they bite on this rather than any other.

Sam's Tip
With all of these “creature features” packed into the SUV’s we as outdoors people should protect our investment. If we protect our current SUV’s so they look good in the future; we will benefit on our tow vehicles by the gain in resale. It is simple to protect your SUV in different ways. Many of which are low cost. For example, when we are running from tournament to tournament, we need to keep the vehicle clear and presentable, like we would our boats.
In the interior of the vehicle the carpet and flooring are one of the first things considered when selling or trading in a vehicle. We like to use Husky Liners to protect our carpets from the grueling wear and tear of getting in and out of the vehicle in all kinds of weather. Carpeting that has ground in dirt, oil, fish slim, mud and other foreign debris constantly staining and twisting into the fibers makes the SUV look terrible. First impressions of entering a vehicle in which the carpet is all stained tells us that the driver of the vehicle doesn’t take care of their equipment. Husky Liners have a built in tray system that keeps these foreign materials from getting into the carpeting. They also extend the liner over the transmission hump and along the carpeting in both the back and front seats. All we have to do to wash these out, is stop at a car wash and hose them off, wipe them down and put them back into our vehicle.

Husky Floor Liners for the front and 2nd seat of sport utility vehicles and pickups are the newest items to help protect the carpeted areas from water, snow and mud. Each pair fits like a glove, clean-up easily, and are made of a patented rubberized thermo-plastic material. All HUSKY LINER products are guaranteed not to crack or break. Items are available in Black, Grey and Tan. Husky Liners are made to fit most sport utility vehicles and pickups.

Also, Husky Liners are making seat covers to protect some of the nice material and leathers that are on the SUV’s today. That is very important for times when we decide to put the boats away and go hunting for the day. These seat covers will protect and mold to the various seat designs to again save and protect your valuable investment.

Sam's Tip
Crankbaits, shad baits, stick baits are all names that we give to minnow imitators. Crankbait fishing has been very popular in the South as well as the North for catching bass. Crankbaits can and do take a lot of bass, northern pike, muskies, crappie, trout and of course walleyes.
Names like, Thunderstick and Junior Thunderstick became common conversational topics to most anglers. I remember being introduced to crankbait fishing not as a lure to cast, but to troll. Here is a tip to put in your bag of tricks. When casting crankbaits in a river or lake area that has rip-rap or even sharp points with weeds and other debris, cast your bait up into the cover or rocks and crank down until you get a taught line. Then pop the crankbait off the structure into the water. Bass fisherman have been doing this for years and it does produce walleyes in stained water or low light conditions such as mornings and evenings. You might lose some lures until you get the hang of this type of fishing but it is very effective for taking some trophy fish. Don't forget to check your line periodically to see if it has wear from the structure.

Now is the time to experiment - casting and trolling. Time to make crankbaits even more important in your walleye arsenal. Pick up the rod and reel and give into the fever of crankbait fishing.

Sam's Tip
The principles of analyzing water and approaching fish remain relatively constant regardless of the body of water you are fishing or the species of fish that you are after. It is important to understand that subtle changes in water temperature , oxygen, bottom structure, shawdow lines, and similar factors make a significant difference in locating fish. Fish tend to locate along transitional zones. The bottom may change from sand to rock or from mud to weeds; a dropoff may occur or slope into deep water; or water in one sector may be a slightly different color. The most important transition zones are the weeds. The weeds or vegetation may be the key to successful angling. Bass seldom stay in open water and characteristically move toward some form of structure, if it is summer you can count on weeds. Muskies and northern pike are ambush feeders, lurking in or near weedbeds or an object that conceals them. Walleyes can be found on the weedline during the day feeding on small fish. Bluegill nest in shallow water in the spring and later can often be found where weedbeds drop off into deeper water.

Sam's Tip
To many anglers trolling means tossing out a crankbait, throwing the rod in a holder, then sitting back and soaking up the sun. Trolling success usually depends on how well you fine-tune your presentation. Simple things that will help you trigger fish might be pumping your rod, or allowing you crankbait to stunt. Pumping a trolling rod is not a new technique. In fact, it's likely you have been using the method for years. The trick is doing it right. I have found, through experience that you should sweep your rod in a 30-degree arc with a pause at the end. The lure speeds up through the sweep and triggers the fish that there is an escaping prey. Although more strikes might occur as the rod is returned to the original position because it is at the end of the fall. The stunting that you might want to try is to use a deep lip crankbait like a Thunderstick and troll this in an area that has a soft bottom like mud or sand. The long bill will dive deep and stunt into the soft bottom. This will cause an erratic motion to the fish plus stir up the bottom and fish will move in to investigate. Again, the pause surge pause motion of your rod will encourage more strikes than just trolling with a dead rod.
Sam's Tip
Where jig or rig eating snags are bad switch to a bottom bouncer teamed with either a Lindy Little Joe spinner or a livebait rig like a Lindy rig. For jigging or rigging, drift or troll your baits or lures as vertically as possible, trying to hold them just off the bottom to minimize snagging and loosing tackle. In many cases, tipping jigs with livebait is unnecessary; walleyes will inhale grub tails with gusto.

Sam's Tip
The fishing technique used when fishing weeds is very basic. The first basic method we all were exposed to when we were young, bobber fishing. The Thill Float has taken more fish along a weedline than any other method. All you have to have is a float, split shot, and a hook. Attach a minnow or a crawler and sit back and wait for the fish to come to you. Another basic way is the use of the cast retrieve method with one of my favorite lures, the spinnerbait. I prefer to use the Big-Finn spinnerbaits from Lindy Tackle

Sam's Tip
With the dog days of summer upon us the fish have really slowed down. Here are some tips that you can use to produce more fish during this difficult time. Jig modification and the use of a natural bait will produce more and bigger fish. Jigs account for most of the winning weights on the professional walleye tournament circle. To increase your hookup percentages when fishing with the versatile and productive leadhead jig, try this tactic. With a pair of long-nose pliers gap your jig hook at approximately 10 degrees from the horizontal. Also, offset the hook slightly. In addition to keeping your hooks needle sharp, the physics of this slight modification will help stick the tip of the hook and increase your catch.

Sam's Tip
Walleyes are the one fish species that the right rod makes the difference. Being able to feel that subtle bite can only happen with quality rod. I prefer a Quantum spinning rod 6'6" or 7' graphite, medium action with a fast tip. The Quantum Energy is my choice for the reel because I like the rear drag system that Quantum produces. In addition, stainless steel ball bearings provide a smooth reel and a smooth reliable drag. If the fish are between the spawn and resting period, I use four pound test line with 1/16 oz. jig tip with a fathead minnow. If the rest period is over and the fish are back in their spawning areas feeding, I go up to six pound line and 1/16 or 1/8 oz. jigs depending on the wind and water depth. I use Fuzzy Grub jigs 1/16 oz. for depths to 15' and 1/8 oz. for 15' and deeper, or on windy days in shallow water.

Sam's Tip
When fishing structure that isn't associated with shoreline or a stationary object in the water, it becomes essential to use a good depth finder. I will run back and forth over an area many times with my eyes glued on my Lowrance LMS 350A until I pinpoint the exact location of the fish on a piece of structure. They might be relating to a small finger extending from a sunken island or to a tiny corner on the point. Once I have located these fish, my presentation and bait selection is very important. My first and favorite approach to fishing these active fish is drifting. I like to drift through them using my motor to slow down the speed of the drift. Many of you who fish rivers and streams, might refer to this approach as slipping the current, or a controlled drift. I will even use a method of backtrolling my boat into the waves to slow down my presentation of the lure. If I think I am drifting too fast, I simply increase the throttle and slow down my speed. This method is very effective when fishing live bait rigs such as a Lindy Rig, or a Lindy Little Joe Spinner.