A brilliant marketing expert who never fished must have created its image as a calm, placid sport.
In reality, patience is the last thing we need. There are few times on the water that call for doing nothing while waiting for a hungry walleye, muskie or panfish to swim by. We should approach the challenge of finding and catching fish as if we've just spent three hours drinking espresso at Starbucks. The attitude of a NASCAR driver is better suited for success on the water more often than that of Ralph Waldo Emerson on Walden Pond.
"I want to fish fast," said FLW 2006 Angler of the Year Tom Keenan. "I have a tendency to troll faster and faster, and I'm catching more fish."
Choosing faster approaches over slower ones makes sense for good reasons. Lethargic fish may ignore a fast lure or spinnerbait during tough bites. Thankfully, all fish aren't in the same mood at the same time. Don't waste time trying to convince one uncooperative fish to bite when a faster presentation will find the one in 10 primed and ready to bite. Even a neutral fish may strike at something it sees moving by quickly out of the corner of its eye.
Speedy tactics are also the best search tools. Move quickly, find an active fish, and maybe others can be plucked out of the school using finesse techniques. Precision tactics may be best when fish are tightly schooled in spring or fall. But covering ground is critical at other times when fish spread out.
There also are places like the Great Lakes where, with rare exception, using a jig is like fishing in a space the size of a bathtub in the middle of an ocean. Live bait can limit your speed, even by using faster techniques like spinner rigs and 'crawlers. If there's a choice, go with hard baits first. Slow down later if you must. An added plus is that you can catch bonus species, like muskies, which is always fun unless you're in a tournament.
There are many different styles of fishing fast. How do you pick the right one?
In general, stick with stickbaits with narrow lips and tight wiggles for neutral fish in colder water. Husky Jerks are an example. As water temperature rises, fish may prefer a more active bait with a wider lip that is more active in the water. Shad Raps and Wally Divers are two that fit that bill.
The important thing is knowing what depth each lure runs. "Precision Trolling" is a book with specific dive curves for common crankbaits to remove the guesswork.
Set your lines to run just over the top of the highest point of structure. That allows you to speed along making S-turns over the top or on the breaklines. When structure is heavily pressured, move off to the sides where walleyes will move to avoid the boat traffic, but continue fishing at the same depth. Once other boats leave, gradually slide over the top again.
Most important is to move fast. Speeds of 1.4 to 1.6 mph are a good start. Go faster if action continues. Even 3 mph is not too fast for a hungry walleye.
Keep the pedal to the metal. Sometimes there's a need for speed.
TED TAKASAKI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 829-1714. SCOTT RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com.
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