By Dave Miller
If you really want to be assured of bringing home a limit of walleye, take along a couple M1A1 Army grenades, pull the pin and throw them into the lake. If, however, you feel you must side with the majority and be honest, because it's the right thing to do — or because it's the law — then one of the following rigs should do the trick. But rest assured, nothing is guaranteed.
In most cases you will want to keep your lure just off the bottom. A good way is to attach an Okie drifter. I used them a lot when I lived in Missouri. Made in various sizes, they are a big help when conditions dictate. A size #3 will float you three to four feet off the bottom and a size #1 will keep you up six to 12 inches. Other good devices to keep you off the bottom are the floating jig heads in size #4, Mr. Twister floating jig heads in sizes #2 through #8, Glo Go in a #4, and Phillips Floaters size #2.
You'll need bobber slip stops (or you can tie your own), and night bobbers with extra batteries. Take along a supply of #4, #6 and #8 bait hooks for those early season walleye that love night crawlers. Trail the crawler behind a spinner or a bait walker sinker, or both, either plain or painted. Leeches don't work well in the early spring because the water is too cold and the leeches tend to ball up.
After the water warms, always take along a supply of leeches with you. I'd rate the leech one of the best, if not the best, bait for walleye that you can use here in Utah, since you can't use live minnows.
Regular jig heads from 1/8 to 5/8 ounce sizes, painted or unpainted, are fine, depending on where you are fishing. I like them painted in bright colors for Utah Lake. Buy rubber grubs or worms in three-inch lengths. (Take some longer ones if bass are in the area, like at Lake Powell.) Bring an assortment of colors such as black, purple, chartreuse, white, yellow and yellow/green. Also bring along a good supply of marabou jigs with soft rubber bodies in assorted colors.
Minnows are also very effective bait for walleye. Minnows and crawlers are even more effective when fished with a stinger. A stinger is a small treble hook tied by short stiff line (15-pound test) to a jig hook. Hook a minnow or worm to the jig hook, and then stick the stinger into the rear end of the bait. Short striking fish will hit the stinger and be hooked.
Here in Utah you have to use frozen minnows because live minnows are illegal. I keep stressing this live bait law because its darn hard to break old habits if you've moved here from a state where its perfectly okay and you have done it all your life.
Light leader is a must in 4, 6 and 8 pound test for these finicky fish.
No matter how you are fishing, either from a boat or float tube, you will need a little marker buoy. You can buy them for $3.69 at your local tackle store. Once you locate that school of fish you don't want to lose it. Throw out a buoy and stay in that area until you aren't getting any more hits.
Other items that you may want to have include egg sinkers, bait walkers, split shot and an assortment of swivels. Remember, when fishing with weights, you will need 1/8 ounce of weight for every 10 feet you want to get down. So at 30 feet you would need 3/8 of an ounce — and a little more on windy days.
If you are float tubing you will want to have a small anchor. My personal choice is a four pound, plastic coated type. The plastic isn't as abrasive as lead on the side of the float tube when not in use. With a couple of snaps attached to your anchor line you can hook it to the Nan rings already on your float tube. Works great and you can store the extra line in one of your storage compartments.
If you want to save some money then melt your lead and make your own anchor, and paint or dip it in liquid plastic that you can buy at your local hardware store.
I have given you a lot of tackle to take along, especially if you are fishing from a float tube. If you are, just take along the minimum. If you run out of something you can always go back to your car and get it — although that is a pain, especially if you are catching fish. One thing to consider is that you can buy a float tube a lot cheaper than you can buy a boat. And, surprisingly enough, you can cover a lot of territory in one. If you can't afford a boat, a tube is a great alternative, and you don't have to pay for a boat license either.
Whether you are fishing from a tube or a boat, a good fish finder will really help.