Walleye Season In Progress
Inside the Outdoors, May 21, 2010

Now that we are well into walleye season, I can’t help but remember when I caught the biggest fish of that species. It’s really a story that evolved over a two-day period.

I decided to wake one early morning and head down to the trestle adjacent Legion Keener Park in Latrobe and try to hook into something larger than a bluegill. I knew there were much bigger fish that resided in Loyalhanna Creek. The “hole” setup spelled out “possibility.”

Using a number 7 black and silver Rapala, I cast it straight across the overflow as the waters came from the catwalk. It was almost instantly, I got a hit. Now, that would stir anyone’s adrenaline.

Reeling the fish in, all was going well. I was standing on the park side of the cement wall. When I got the fish to the wall, it eyed me and turned took off in the opposite direction breaking my line. I just figured something out. Maybe that is where the name “walleye” came from – when it is reeled into a wall area and eyes the angler.

Moving on…

The next morning I decided to rise and shine about the same time and hasten down to the fishin’ hole of the previous day and try again – this time using a bit more strategy. I cast the same way as done previously the day before and the same thing happened. As I reeled in the fish and it eyed my presence, it turned abruptly and took off. I opened the bail spring this time. That was my ticket to success. I let it run until it stopped. Then I planted my hook once again and brought it in. The fish turned out to be my evening meal.

With that said, I hope it gives any walleye angler something to think about. Anytime one fishes for a particular species, he has to have knowledge as to what these aquatic residents like to eat. From my little story, one can see that crankbaits mimicking smaller fish, for example, will successfully draw walleye’s attention.

Books have been written on how to catch these fish. Many people will read the publications from cover to cover because they consider this fish top of the line when it comes to eating. I used to buy into that philosophy until I sunk my teeth into pike. Then I changed my tune.

In addition to crankbaits, leeches are considered the universal bait to catch walleye. There are several reasons for this. One, they are plentiful and natural to all bodies of waters, such as creeks, rivers or lakes.

According to Perry Good, in an article titled “Live Baitin’ with Leeches,” from his Website, www.walleyesinc.com, “Not all leeches attract fish. The leech species that live in waters with gamefish populations usually make poor bait. Most game fish ignore horseleeches. Fish eat many types of leeches, but only the ribbon leech is widely used as bait.” – Just a little educational side note.

I remember when I had my store, many anglers requested leeches as their top bait for catching walleyes. Refrigerated, they kept for a long time, but were a hassle because the water had to be changed nightly. If I failed to do so, the whole inside of the container would become “funkafied” (a coined terminology of my wife). That non-pleasant composition was deadly.

Other baits vary per season. Now, use small crankbaits, small jigs and plastic worms. Fish around gravel ledges, points and submerged humps in protected areas. In the summer, use the same and fish shallow in the mornings and evenings and move deeper as the sun rises. Use lures that mimic crawfish, as this is a favorite food of the walleye. Follow points and rocky or gravel structure deeper until you establish the proper depth.

Before I sign off here, could you do me a favor? I am doing a survey. If by chance you have fished Loyalhanna Creek below the island down to the trestle between Harrison Ave. and Legion Keener Park, I want to know if you have caught any fish since opening day trout season. I would like to have the tally by the end of the month. I will publish the results soon thereafter. Names will not be used. You may state your age if you wish. My email address is peevee73@verizon.net or you can call me at 724-539-8850. Additional comments are welcome.

- Paul J. Volkmann
You can contact me by email