Trolling for walleye on Bull Shoals Lake
Trolling for walleye on Bull Shoals and Norfolk lake can be an effective method, if you understand a few basic principles and understand how to read a lake contour map and thermocline report. Shallow trolling usually begins after the walleye have finished spawning and are beginning to transition into deeper water. Shallow trolling in 12 feet to 15 feet of water at dusk over lake points can be productive using Flicker Shads, Deep Little Ns and just about anything that will dive to the needed depth on its own. An extremely effective trolling strategy is to go shallow early in the spring.
Some of our well known and successful members will use a spinning rod and throw the lure out the back of the boat pulling the bait over points and shallow areas, while others use trolling rods and line counter reels. When you’re this shallow, the simpler the better. Your ability to control your boat speed is one of the most important pieces of your success. As a rule of thumb, 1.8-2.2 mph is the speed you should try to maintain for proper lure dive.
As the water warms, and the days get longer the walleye will begin to gradually move into deeper water. And you’re more likely to catch walleye during the day trolling. This, of course, means you will need to get your lure deeper and will likely need to add line weights or use lead core to get down to 25-35 feet of water. As the thermocline begins to set up in the lakes, the fish will usually be very close, and usually within the thermocline. This is where the Twin Lakes Walleye Club shines. We publish a monthly thermocline report for our members showing you exactly the water temps and dissolved oxygen. This is very important information to walleye fishing in reservoirs because that’s where we need to pull our baits.
If you are new to fishing the thermocline, you might be wondering how to know exactly how to get your lure to the depth needed, and what speed to troll at. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds with the correct tools. I personally use the Precision Trolling App. It’s available for free download in the google app store.
Within this app, you can search your favorite baits, purchase the ones you want for $1.99 ea. And they are forever yours. You simply pull up your baits, pick the ones you will be using, and it will give you options on line size, speed, and needed depth. A hard copy of the Precision Trolling Manual is no longer available, so before I go out for the day, I look up the baits I’ll be using and load them in my phone. This really takes all the guesswork out of trolling a certain depth.
Long line trolling also includes using line weights. Line weights are also in the trolling app. You can calculate the depth needed by adding line weights to your line and its also a good method for getting the bait down into the thermocline.
And last is lead line. Many of our members use lead core trolling because it’s straight forward and easy to be exact. Lead core line also follows the boat better than using line weights when making contour swings.
The best thing you can do as a newcomer to the trolling scene is to ask club members questions and go out and practice. There is no one best way, but the most important things to remember is trolling speed, boat control, depth of the bait and last of all is probably lure color. Many professional walleye tournament fishermen will tell you that color comes last. If they troll over water where fish are and not getting bites, they always adjust the boat speed first.
Controlling your speed:
Speed is critical and maintaining a constant trolling speed between 1.8-2.2 mph will be the speed you need to maintain. I personally use my 9.9 kicker motor to push my boat and my trolling motor to guide my boat. This allows me to be very accurate with my speed. But you may not have a kicker motor, or you don’t have a remote control on your trolling motor. My last boat was a Bass Tracker, and I used my 60 Hp motor in idle to push the boat, and a drift sock to keep my boat at the correct speed. Regardless of your situation, you can use different techniques to control speed.
Another issue is trolling with the wind, because your boat might try and run sideways, and you could eventually run too fast. This again is why I’m a stickler over boat control. Try and troll into the wind, especially if you don’t have a kicker motor and watch your contour very carefully to keep your boat in the correct depth.
I look forward to seeing your fishing reports!