I’m not saying a #3 Do-Jigger spoon is the greatest walleye lure of all time, but I have one in my box that has caught tons of fish from a variety of waters from Saginaw Bay to Erie’s 30 foot depths, Lake Macatawa, Portage Lake and beyond. The one characteristic is this lure glows. Not the new super glow color but a chartreuse glow that somehow sends a message to hungry walleyes and turns them into jaw snapping tigers with menacing teeth slamming down on the spoon with reckless abandon…
POW! Fish on! I’ve fished the lure religiously under a variety of conditions but it shines when the sun sets, the ice is aglow with fast fading light and huge walleyes go on a feeding spree. It is my go to spoon when the sun sets.
If your goal is to ice more and bigger walleyes ice fishing this season I’ve got exciting news for you that could bring limit catches and the behemoth ‘eyes like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve got an ice fishing strategy that catches fish like dynamite and you don’t have to wait eons for strikes. Listen up!
Night fishing for walleyes in the dead of winter is a relatively new science for most Michigan anglers mostly because the best bite occurs at sunset then quickly disappears as darkness falls. Plus the idea of fishing at night for walleyes generally involves difficulty seeing, fast falling temperatures and endless jigging in the pitch black abyss. However, the results can be worth all the preparation and equipment, particularly when you are icing lunkers. The following anecdote best describes what I’m talking about.
It was a dark, windy night when I met Steve VandeMark at his home on Saginaw Bay and we headed out onto the frozen ocean in search of walleyes. Steve has his 10-inch Lowrance graph attached to his snowmobile and follows a previous trail using GPS and search structure as we motor across the frozen lake to a distant walleye honey hole found 8 miles from shore. When we hit the destination Steve set up exactly where he found a huge school of walleyes the day before and I moved about 50 yards away.
VandeMark has been fishing the Bay for over 30 years and has a keen sense of where and when to find schools of active fish with ease. He pulls a flip-up ice shanty with a snowmobile and prefers to travel with other anglers for safety. You never know what you encounter on frozen ice during dark and it pays to have backup especially during emergency situations.
I shut down my Honda quadrunner, grabbed the Jiffy 10-inch gas powered auger and punched a hole through the thick ice at lightning speed. After I drilled one hole for electronics and another fishing hole I set up my Vexilar. There close to bottom was a big bright band indicating a fish so I rigged the glow Do-Jigger with a live minnow and dropped it into the zone. When the jig hit bottom I raised it about 12 inches and gave two short 6-inch pumps of the rod tip. That’s when I felt a solid slam and I jerked the rod skyward and set the hook. It was hard for me to believe I was already into a fish before clearing the other holes of ice and soon a fat five pounder flopped onto the ice.
I yelled to Steve, “Got one,” and he quickly replied, “Me too,” as I frantically cleared ice from other holes, rigged two rods and sent wiggling minnows dancing on spoons to bottom. But my second rod was rigged with a 3/8 oz. new super glow spoon from Moonshine Lures. It was a relatively heavy spoon with glow-in-the-dark colors that were extremely bright when I placed them in front of my head lamp. The first thing I noticed was the extra bright red on the spoon called Bloody Nose highlighted with a greenish super glow body and large black dots.
SLAM! I was into another walleye and soon the super glow spoon outscored the Do-Jigger three to one. That’s when I switched to another Moonshine Lures spoon that had a perch pattern with orange belly and attractive black markings like a perch. I twitch the lure then let it sit vertical as a huge red band comes off bottom. I lift the lure, let it flutter, then give it that all important pause in the fish’s face. The frantic flash of the hooked minnow along with fresh fish oils in the water send out an olfactory message driving him crazy and he gulps the offering. But this fish strips line off the drag, bends my custom 52″ ice rod double and after an outstanding battle my headlight illuminates the trophy. Sure, it’s not a 10 pound-plus Shiver on the River winner but it is a huge fish. My heart is pounding at the sight of the 26-inch green backed walleye with huge illumined eyes shining in the dark like underwater headlights. I ease the monster onto the ice and give out a war hoop to announce my pleasure to the fishing gods.
One key to the night fishing puzzle was switching to super glow spoons. I found the Glow Perch with bright super glow orange belly was on fire. When I switched to a Crab Face spoon with super glow body and two super glow red areas on the gills and tail the walleyes absolutely slammed the lure. I think in dim light walleyes can better see super glow than other colors. In clear water walleyes can detect movement at around 50 feet but in the dim light of twilight the distance is reduced. Certainly they can feel flashing spoons with their lateral line and home in on the water displacement but if they get a glimpse of color, especially bright red or orange, it is bite on.
What I discovered is super glow lures unlocked the mystery of night fishing for walleyes. While natural forage like shad, smelt, alewives, emerald shiners and more are dark backed, mirrored sides and light underbellies to match the environment and offer camouflage in darkness, the new ultra-super glow colors bring attention like no other. They light up the water and it is my opinion the new bright orange, red, green and other lure colors offer an attractive facet of walleye fishing that is virtually a new frontier. Among tournament ice anglers the fancy new super glow colors have caught on like gangbusters. Perhaps now ice anglers can extend the walleye bite time into the wee hours of the night and perhaps in years to come there will be a whole new crew of walleye fishermen who begin to ply the depths only after sunset.
Now, you know me I’m old school and still fish from a collapsible box I toss on the back of a little Honda racing quad runner. I like to be in the open air, regardless of wind, snow, sleet and howling winds and I use long, custom made rods designed to hook and land walleyes on a scale most short rod shelter fishermen can never dream about. Guess I’ve tried almost every jigging trick and lure on the market and it is my conclusion super glow spoons are the way to go.
So, I packed gear and ran to Michigan’s west coast and used super glow lures on several lakes. Lake Macatawa was easy fishing, Muskegon Lake was a tad slow, White Lake was reliable and Portage was simply hot for walleyes and whitefish. All experiments were conducted after sunset and while some lakes offered fantastic catches at sunset the action slowed then picked up an hour later. On two different occasions I had great fishing around 11 p.m. But being all alone on a bitter cold winter night can play with your mind. You start to hear distant coyote mournful calls, see owls flash by in the moonlight and you can get a cold lonely feeling only the solid strike of a monster walleye can overcome.
I’d love to test the glow lures on Lake Erie in search of a monster fish. But last year the ice was iffy and most years you can’t get out there when the prespawn monster hens congregate and snap at nearly any presentation. I’ve had ice fishing limits on Erie and all the fish were over 10-pounds. The Erie record walleye was caught through the ice in late December 1991 and pushed the scales at 17 pounds 7 ounces. Lord knows I’d like to test glow lures on Erie near Bass Island. A couple years ago I landed over 200 walleyes in two days, some were 13-14 pounds but we only kept a few three-four pounders for dinner. There is something addictive about unhooking a large female walleye, sides bulging with eggs and feeling her power and energy as she swims unharmed to the depths.
Night fish are different than day walleyes. Anytime you mark fish try to get them to move upward and their mood changes and they become more aggressive, as though instinct tells them they have a huge advantage over any food that is suspended above them within inhaling distance. Other times fish respond better to dropping the rod tip and allow the lure to flip on its side and flutter toward bottom. Sometimes you need to pound the lure on sand, stir up silt and make the presentation mimic a feeding baitfish. Then lift three-inches and pause then lift a foot and pause. The pause is deliberate as though a feeding critter is rising up out of the disturbance zone and stationary targets lifted off bottom represent food sources in a precarious position for feeding walleyes.
There are certainly tactics you can use for titan walleyes. Over the years I’ve probably taken more 10-pound fish on white Swedish Pimple tipped with two perch minnows. Two of my three monster Saginaw Bay Shiver winners came on a pearl Do-Jigger tipped with three minnows. In Bay of Quinte my hot bait was a chartreuse Swedish pimple in 23 feet of water. Quinte is where I tested lipless Rattlebait and pulled walleyes from 50 feet away. Guess I still prefer a Jigging Rap for limit catches in the Saginaw River and I’ve had good luck using Little Cleo spoons just about everywhere. But if my intuition is good and my field test work provided valuable information I’d have to say super glow spoons have won a place in my walleye fishing heart. They have provided fantastic catches in deep and shallow water, day or night and extended the bite into the realm of the night. While different waters require new colors and different approaches I’d have to guess if you give them a try you will be impressed with the results.