Riege: Fishing Deep Structure with Lead

Published 8:55 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

By Bob & Ginny Riege

Two distinct methods will help you improve your odds of catching more walleyes when they seem to hug the bottom during cold fronts and in pressure situations. These two methods are leadcore line fishing and the use of the bottom bouncer.

First of all, allow me to elaborate on the use of leadcore line system on deep water structure.

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A good level wind reel is essential and a good graphite rod that has the potential for a long sweep of the rod tip so that when those” eyes” hit it has some give. I prefer to use the downrigger variety of rods that Mitchell offers. They have the sensitivity and the backbone that you will need for this type of system.

You should start with your level wind reels spooled with 500 feet of 8 pound test Berkley XT, tie in a segment of one, two or three colors of 18 pound leadcore, and finish with another 50 feet of Berkley 8 pound XT, as a leader to the bait.

The length of the leadcore segment varies by the type of crankbait we’ll be using and the depth we need to achieve. For example, in the late fall’s chilly water, we’ve found walleyes to prefer subtle action lures like a # 7 Shad Rap. To get this shallow-diving bait down 30 to 40 feet we need three segments of leadcore. If we’re using a deeper diver like a No. 9 Shad Rap we can achieve the same depths with just two segments of leadcore. The general rule is high action crankbaits for warm water, subtle action for cool water.

When you find a concentration of fish in over 40 feet of water and they are suspended at 30 feet, start from the bottom and work your bait up to the strike zone. Most anglers would try to determine how much line to let out until they were in 30 feet of water. The easiest method is to let out line until you are on bottom and then crank in line until you have a strike.

That is the system, easy, simple and a great producer. So next time the fish seem to be deeper get the” lead out” the leadcore that is.

The second method is becoming more popular among professionals and they have helped to introduce a method known as bottom bouncing.

Bottom bouncing is a term that up until five years ago many people hadn’t heard. No it isn’t the term given to those people that you see sliding down your favorite sledding hill in the wintertime. It is a term used for finding deep structure holding walleyes. The bottom bouncer (I like the Rock Runner from Northland) is a live bait delivery system that enables a fisherperson to present bait over the top of structure that might get most other baits “snagged up.” The Rock Runner is “L” shaped wire with a lead weight molded on to it. They come in size ranges from 1/4 to 4 ounces, with the 1 to 2 ounce sizes being the most popular. On one end of the “L” shaped wire is a snap swivel that you can attach your spinner to. At the other end is the feeler. With the line from your pole attached to the center of the “L” shaped wire and dropped to the bottom, you now have a device that will allow you to feel the bottom and keep your bait out of the “snags”.

You might want to experiment with the Rock Runner when you are drifting. Although the presentation of Rock Runner can be used while trolling, you might want to get the feel before adding speed to the formula. You will note that you might want to use a little heavier equipment than your normal jigging rod and reel.

The first time I was introduced to bottom bouncing was when I made a trip to the Oahe Reservoir in South Dakota. Needless to say if you try the Rock Runner you will find out why it is becoming truly “a Fisherman’s Favorite.” There it is two methods that will allow you to catch more fish when they seem to be right on the bottom and they just won’t come up to lure. Instead meet them on their level and use the lead advantage.