Nathan Zelisnky guides for walleye at Chatfield and on our first trip a couple of years ago he told me that there were six walleye skills that I needed to master to be effective. Trolling shallow, jigging, rigging, trolling open water (spinners and cranks), deep jigging, and slip-bobbering. Add in ice fishing and you would be a true walleye master if you knew all of these techniques. I booked two trips last week to learn open water trolling and jigging. After years of reading Nate's articles on Fishex I was finally going to learn the tactics for real. These trips were well worth the money.
The first trip was to learn to troll spinners and cranks in open water. In other words, we were targeting fish that were not relating to structure and were suspended in the water column. These are the fish that chase shad for a living and very few people target them at Chatfield.There were 10 boats on the main roadbed that day and one boat trolling open water.
During the summer, this is the main way to catch fish 25" and longer. The funny thing is that on this trip we ended up with mainly smaller fish. Our total for the day was 15 fish and we had at least one big bite that pulled the planer board back 8 feet and then let go. Everyone shook their head after that one.
Trolling in a group is fun. Nate runs the boat and the rest set lines. The rest of the time you are either reeling in fish or resetting the lines for another pass. It was mostly my job to keep track of all the eight lines outout using the dry erase board. I tracked lure depths, spinner weights, colors, bites, and fish size then had to rearrange all the info when we reset the lines. 80% of the fish came on an orange #5 colorado blade that day--one of the first times I've really seen an obvious pattern develop. Super cool and so far beyond anything you would come up with on your own.
The second trip was organized through fishexplorer (If you book a trip and need some friends to share explenses, everyone I've met from Fishex has been worth fishing with, some have become great friends). This trip was to learn how to jig. More than that, it was to learn how to maneuver and control the boat while casting, plus learning how to control the lure and feel strikes. Nathan is a master at jigging and really pushed our knowledge and confidence in casting for walleye. The funny part here is that we caught the big fish on this day. 5 keepers and coutless smaller fish.