|Berkley Gulp! Alive Minnows|
Every fishing boat worthy of the name should have — safely tucked away in a compartment — an assortment of items that can be trip savers. Things like an extra drain plug, spare fuses and a basic first-aid kit. I carry these, plus another important item: a bucket of Berkley's Gulp Alive minnows.
Like a lot of walleye anglers, I rarely carry live bait anymore. This is especially true when I'm on sprawling Pymatuning Lake, a 16,000-acre impoundment on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border. Walleye-rich Pymy is an ideal lake for trolling tactics, particularly during the spring when fish are in the post-spawn, and as such are usually scattered. But during the finicky weather of the early season, when cold fronts blow through with regularity, the 'eyes sometimes shun trolled crankbaits.
I recall a trip last spring. I'd been enjoying consistent success during prior outings trolling the 7- to 15-foot depths with small Rapala Shad Raps and Cordell Wally Divers but not this blustery day.
After nearly three hours with nothing to show but a couple short fish, I told my partner Andy that it was time to stow the trolling gear. I grabbed two spinning rods, tied on lead head jigs, and tipped them with 4-inch Gulp Alive minnows that I'd scooped from the boat's cache. Soon we were using a controlled drift to present the jig-pseudo minnow combos over a mid-depth flat covered with stumps. An hour later the livewell sported a half-dozen plump walleyes. Not a great catch but one I was happy with under the circumstances. And one we'd of likely missed out on without the 12-ounce bucket onboard.
I keep a supply of both 3- and 4-inch Gulp Alive minnows in each of my two boats. Productive colors have been black shad, smelt and chartreuse shad. They couple up well with Bass Pro Shops' XPS Walleye Jig.