In the land of 10,000 lakes, there is a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. The temperatures are inching higher, lakes are slowly shedding layers of snow and for Minnesotan’s, the annual state fishing opener – scheduled for May 11 – might be spent brushing up on techniques and counting the days until this year’s actual ice out happens in some areas of the state.
Participated in by nearly everyone, the season opener is a rite-of-passage that defines the Minnesotan experience. In fact, nearly 1.2 million people purchased an angling license and cast a line out on a section of the state’s 3.8 million acres of fishing waters in hopes of landing a lunker in 2012 alone, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Unlike past openers, Minnesotans will hit the water in limited areas in search of the state’s most coveted fish – the elusive walleye. Whether you’re waiting to hit your favorite walleye lake or are fortunate to venture out, Minnesota Fishing Hall of Famer Al Lindner says selecting the right tackle is key to hooking a big, golden-bellied ‘eye,’ once the lakes are thawed of course.
Tackle Tips from Fishing Great Al Lindner
“When you’re targeting walleye, it’s especially important to choose the right bait for the job, one that offers both an attractive presentation and enticing action,” says Lindner. “Perfect for casting or trolling, the new patent pending Rapala® Scatter Rap® Minnow or Shad is sure to whip walleye into a frenzy this season. The lure boasts the classic minnow profile that put Rapala on the map and is equipped with an industry-first ‘Scatter Lip’ that creates the most evasive, erratic, aggressive action I’ve ever seen.”
The Scatter Rap series brings game-changing action to the water with its effortless and instant swimming pattern, putting chase into action. When fished with varying reel speed, the lure triggers reactive bites with an immediate sweeping action that mimics a spooked baitfish fleeing attack – ideal for all opener scenarios.
The lure, available in 16 enticing finishes, gives Rapala’s latest innovation added versatility for use in any forage or water clarity types, according to Lindner.
“Jigging is also a popular technique and there are two key factors when rigging up: fishing line and lure. My preferred line is the extremely durable Sufix® 832 that allows me to feel the slightest bite and tangle with the toughest walleye without worries. For presentation this year, try a slightly different approach with the new Rapala Snap Rap®, which is fished with a new snap retrieve method, creating an attention-grabbing darting action with each flick of the rod. This lure brings the hot hard water action of the Rapala Jigging Rap® to open water,” remarks Lindner.
Lindner also recommends a classic Minnesota walleye bait approach: the live bait rig.
“When anglers visit a sporting goods store, the amount of jigs to choose from can seem like it outweighs the number of people heading out fishing. My preferred choice for jigs are the VMC® Dominator™ Hammer Head™ jigs or the Neon Moon Eye jigs; using the new UV color patterns that provide a glowing beacon in cloudy or murky water tipped with a Trigger X® Walleye minnow or swimming grub.”
While simply hitting open water for the first times in months is reason enough for Minnesota fishing fanatics to shake with excitement this walleye opener, nothing makes the experience complete like reeling in a trophy fish the first weekend out. This year, Lindner’s can’t-miss tackle tips are sure to give anglers from Albert Lea to International Falls the advantage over even the wiliest walleye.
And if these tips don’t land that big ‘eye,’ just give Al a call on his fishing tips hotline: AL’s Hotline.