In my last blog, I talked about the tadpole diver, a weighted diving system that brings your baits down to the river bottom. Now I would like to talk about the baits.
One of the most common ways to catch walleye in a river is to jig -- either vertical jigging or pitching jigs up to the river bank, and working them back to the boat. However, when the summer starts to grow longer and the water temps start to rise, the jigging bite starts to fall away. That’s when it’s time to troll!
Small shad body baits trolled on the river bottom can be a killer tactic for river walleye in the “Dog Days” of summer.
While there are a bunch of crank baits that fill this build, I would like to tell you about one of my favorites. The Worden’s Timber Tiger made by Yakima Bait Company is my go-to crank bait, and here is why: The Timber Tigers have an anti-snagging system built into the body of the crank bait. Built into the side of the baits are these small wings or humps, so when the bait comes up to a log on the river bottom, the bill of the bait will hit the structure, pulling the nose down and the hooks up and away from the snag. And as the bait rolls over the structure, the wings deflects the bait, almost turning the bait upside down, and keeps the hooks away from snagging the structure.
The Timber Tiger comes in a variety of sizes. The shallower model numbers are DC-2 through DC-8. I prefer these smaller-billed, shallower-running baits for pulling behind the tadpole diver talked about in the first blog. Timber Tiger also has larger-billed, deeper-diving bait called DC-13 and DC-16. I like to troll the DC 13’s and 16’s with no extra diving system.
If I’m targeting a river flat in the 10- to 15-feet range of water, I just snap on the baits and let out 30 to 60 feet of line. I keep letting line out until I feel the baits start ticking the bottom and then keep them there.
When I’m targeting walleye in the 15- to 22-feet range of water, I like to use the tadpole diver with a 5-foot leader towing the smaller-billed, shallower-running Timber Tiger, like a DC-2- or DC-3.
Why the shallower bait for deeper water? Because you are now using the tadpole diver to bring the bait down to the bottom so the shallower-running bait will stay in line with the diver better and will not try and dive down below the tadpole. You don’t want your crankbait to fight your diver. So that is why the shallower-running baits pulled behind the deep-diving tadpole diver is the best setup in the deeper areas of the river bottom.
Both models of the Worden’s Timber Tiger can also be casted and retrieved. If you want to fish a 4- to 6-foot deep rock shelf or weed bed, casting the DC-3 and DC-5 can be extremely effective.
I hope these tips will help you put a lot more walleye in your boat this summer. Until next time, happy fishing.
Written by Dan Hassevoort