Young fisherman with a walleye

The opening weekend this year had to be the most picture-perfect weather day one could ever wish for in their wildest dreams. Bright sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s, and very little wind. Great for enjoying the lake, awesome for installing the dock, and wonderful for taking a cruise in the boat. As for an ideal fishing day, it too was almost picture-perfect, except if walleyes were the intended catch.

The high skies and flat calm conditions were at best, some of the most difficult conditions for consistent walleye success. That being said, walleyes are still catchable in tough conditions, but the methods used must be simplified and downsized.

Added to the challenge of the tough fishing conditions this opening day, my angling partners consisted of a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 9-year-old who wanted to do nothing but the cast and retrieve. Nothing a seasoned angler like myself couldn’t handle, especially when they are your grandkids. What I did need to do was admit to myself that a serious fishing trip running and gunning for walleyes was not in the picture.

My mission this fine day was to keep the kids busy, not impale any of the children with hooks and get some action on the end of their lines before their attention span expired.

In a scenario like this, which included a boat full of kids, my preferred option was to simplify my presentation and keep it as simple as possible. The KISS (keep it simple silly) method would be our preferred technique. In our particular situation, a simple 1/16 ounce Northland Tackle Sink’n jig would be our lure of choice. A spot tail shiner would be the bait. Boat control in these calm conditions was easy.

A slow easy back trolling pattern would keep all the lines from tangling in the propeller, which also kept the kids toward the front of the boat.

So why use a lightweight jig? I have found that a lightweight jig, especially the Northland Tackle Sink’n jig with its shorter hook shank length, doesn’t make direct contact with the bottom, avoiding many snags.

The short shank hook also allows the bait to be butted up against the hook’s keeper which kept it pretty much weed-free when targeting game fish on the opening day emerging weed beds. The light 1/16 ounce Sink’n jig we used, along with a long-line presentation, kept the bait away from the boat in the calm, extremely clear water conditions. This technique also kept the kids from constantly being tangled.  It worked really well.

So how did the big opening day fishing adventure with the grandkids go? Darn good! The 4-year-old hooked a really nice walleye on the jig and shiner combo. The fish never made it inside the boat, but the battle was epic. The older kids got to battle some small northern which were landed and released after some serious chaotic screams of delight.

Just what the doctor ordered when your main goal was to create some great memories while trying to get the fishing bug to bite the kids for a lifetime.

By Jeff Weaver
Contributing Writer

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