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Sure bet walleyes: Big baits

Big Baits and a jig tipped with a four to five-inch Kalin grub tail proves to be deadly on late season walleyes and an alternative when larger minnows are not available.

On a recent fall fishing trip, my partner admitted a jig and a rainbow minnow wasn't his presentation of choice nor was he particularly confident with it. Instead, he wanted to grab one of my larger creek chub minnows out of the minnow bucket to place on a live bait rig instead. The jig and a minnow combination I was using paled in size compared to the minnow selected, but it did produce the only walleyes up until that time. It was not long before my partner was into a walleye, then another and yet another. Was it the live bait rig or was it the larger minnow on the live bait rig, or both? A question to be answered on another trip; our daylight ran out.

A memory from a few years ago: I bumped into Park Rapids fisherman Dean Cumbers on an area lake. Just days before we saw a number of fish arcs in 30 to 35 feet of water on my depth sounder screen. I questioned Dean as to what I was seeing and how to catch them.

"Try a jig head tipped with a four- to five-inch grub body, slowly bounced along the bottom in that deep water. Bet they are walleyes. If you want to add some seasoning, tip the jig with small minnow for scent," Cumbers went on to say. "It works for northern pike and musky in deep water; no reason why not for walleyes."

Later that fall, days before freeze up, equipped with half-ounce jig heads and four- and five-inch grub bodies, I was anxious to give them a try. Seeing the arcs on my screen again in 30 to 35 feet of water, indicating fish; walleyes maybe, but yet to be determined. Lowering my jig head tipped with a grub body and a small minnow to the bottom, then going just a few feet, I felt a sharp thud, setting the hook and was into a decent fish. Northern was my first thought, as the fish appeared in the 45-degree, gin-clear water, noting the white tip on the tail. It was a plump, five-pound walleye. Landing it, then quickly releasing it, I went down again and another thud signaling another walleye on the line.

Recalling this experience of a few years back, I was excited to go to the lake my partner did so well on with live bait and a minnow. I wanted to revisit those spots. Again, I saw the telltale arcs in 27 to 35 feet of water. Determined, I put a half-ounce jig head tipped with a four-inch Kalin grub body on the hook. Sure enough, they were walleyes and into them immediately. Two fishermen in a boat nearby saw me land my fourth fish and asked what size red tail minnows I was using. "Not using red tails; instead, a jig head tipped with a four-inch grub body," I replied.

Our area bait dealers do an outstanding job keeping larger minnows, red tails and creek chubs on hand for late fall anglers. As the open water season draws to a close, it gets challenging for them to keep on hand nice large size creek chubs and red tails. A jig tipped with a grub body is a tried-and-true alternative method to catching late fall walleyes.

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