By Jason Mitchell

Early season post spawn walleye tactics often incorporate live bait rigging and jigging.  Particularly with states like Minnesota and Wisconsin that have a walleye opener, crankbaits often get overlooked on many fisheries and they shouldn’t.  Many anglers associate presentations with water temperatures.  Rigs and jigs, perhaps live bait early in the season with faster and more aggressive presentations kicking in when the water temperatures warm up.  There are some elements to these general assumptions that do seem to hold true.  What also determines the presentations however is the location. 

If you are finding fish stacked up on one side of an offshore reef in twenty-five feet of water on a spot the size of half a tennis court, trolling crankbaits is going to be inefficient.  Both rigging and jigging are excellent presentations for pinpoint location.  Here are a few scenarios however where I absolutely clean up trolling with crankbaits on natural lakes early in the season.  Large expansive sand and gravel flats that come off shorelines often hold a lot of fish.  When these locations are big, say a football field or bigger, crankbaits allow you to find fish faster.  We also find that these fish are often moving or scattered so crankbaits really shine because you can breakdown water.  Now you can also snap jig these locations as well at a faster speed to find and catch fish.  What I like about crankbaits however is I can control the running depth much better if there are emerging weeds starting to appear.  If weeds are starting to grow in clumps that range between one to two feet off the bottom, I can run my cranks precisely at three feet off the bottom and feel I can cover distances more efficiently. 

Don’t overlook crankbait trolling patterns on natural lakes early in the season.  The author Jason Mitchell with a beautiful walleye caught slow trolling a Salmo Bullhead 8SDR.