Some of us can`t walk and chew


Some of us can`t walk and chew
Some of us can't walk andchew
gum at the same time. Some fish experience
rthesamedynamic-walleyes can't eat and fight
Curr€nt:atthe same time. Thus our fascination
with Wing dams,current breaking structures
that attract and hold walleyes all year long,
warm weatherand cold.
darns hold back water so fish can feed there,"
saysJeff Lahr, tournament angler and guide on the Iowa
"They stop baitfish movportion of the Mississippi River.
ing up and down river and divert them to walleyes. A
wing dam is a big serving table, where fish can wait for
food and be rewarded for it."
TonTmySkarlis, winner of the 2008 FLW Champi"wingmen" on earth.
onship, calls Lahr one of the best
doing things I never heard of before," Skarlis says.
"Stringing two cranks on one line is an example. He's
using one crank to reduce the action of the other one.
This allows fish to tell him which action is preferred at a
given time on a given day."
Meanwhile, Lahr is just as respectful of Skarlis.
"He knows his stuff.
fished with Tommy," Lahr says.
He's at his best on rivers."
Together these two are introducing new win-win
wing-dam options. Starting right here.
, ;r': ]i'}affia$_!.{.$
"The first step is knowing where wing dams are,"
"You need to get all the paper maps availSkarlis says.
able for that river, plus Navionics chips and other charts.
And you need to have them in sonar units front andback,
so no matter which power source is running the boat you
can find those wing dams.
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a w i n g d a m p i r r p o i n t t ' d . l . i . i . . , , L rrt. L ' i erence poilrts on sltort, tlr,tt .r , r'.\ \ ( 'Ll
l o s r ' lu p o n i l i r rl l r t . t r t r u '
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in a scrir',. I
t i , r o , l , t t t t - ,t t r , r r , r i r ' - l r . .
t l r c m o s t f i s h i t - ri o r r r r , r t LI
says. "In high water, tlre op'rpositt:is
true. I I'I can't hold with rnv erlectric,
thereare no fjsh on that portion of
a wirrg clan:r.I start at the tail end of
a series ir-rhielr water, n.hcre I can
get right on top of thc fish and fislr
a Imost vcrtically."
Once a wing danr is locaterdand
o u t l i n c d , S k a r l i sg o c s i n t o s t e a l t h
. .o L r c a n r r rn t l r r . , t r o l l r n g m o t o r a n d c a s t , " h c s ; r 1 , s",f 1 1
reposition the boat to cover every
inch of thartportion of a wirrg dam.
You might l.raveto re-anchor a tirne
or two to fish the entire clam.
like to fish from the shallows
ciut,so I position the boat above the:
c e n t e r o f t l r e w i n g d a m , r c s bt l r c
anchor carefnlly on bottom, slorvly
drift back,and turn the big rnotor
s o i t r u d d e r s t h e b o a t a w a r yf r o m
shore.Jf shore is to port, put tJrercpc
, l l t ' r i. 1 . r ' r i l i c , r 1l , ,L t r , . . : . ,r r r c h r r r . o n t h c
s t a r b o a r dc l e a ta n d s l i d c i h e
ort a lot-tg r()pc so y(rLr cilit r;i;rce it
boat trtr,r'arclshorc, with tlrc rucltlc-r
r r , ' l l . r l r o r t , l l twt 'i r r q , l , r r r . I . 1 , . { r n t ( ,( t h c n T a i ne n g i n r ) k e e p i n g
it fronl
r r i , . j i -r rc t l v " [ - J s g1 . 1 1 1 1 1 ' I o ;'r1 r ' ; , 1 f l51,y swineing too far. Afte_-r
covering tl-re
The Skarlis Method
-d- t l-'.'r.
3/8- to
wing da
starboard cleat
port cleat
1/8- to 1/A-ounce
A- p;
I N I. F I S H F R M A N I
'U formed by the wing dam meeting
shore, work toward the middle of the
dam. Then retie the anchor rope to
the port cleat and slide out toward
the deep end of the dam.
"I fincast the face of the wing
dam. The more aggressivefish hit
cranks, but I have rods rigged with
jigs, too. On that L-corner near shore,
I start with l/8- to 1/4-ouncejigs. I
make the first cast at a 4S-degree
angle to the spot where the wing
dam meets shore.Current washes it
down into that slack-water cup, the
vertical eddy where most walleyes
sit. That's the sweet spot. Wttrking
o u t i n t o d e e p e ra n d s w i f t e r w a t e r ,
jig. Change
I switch to a 3/8-or-rnce
whenever your jig blows out in tl-re
cnrrcnt and yclu cnn't find bottom."
Skarlis helped dcsign the
L i n d y X - C l - r a r r g eJ i g t o f a c i l i t a t e
quick changesin weight ancl color.
Jigs allow changing
heads and colors without retying,"
s y s t e mr e a l l y w o r k s
he says.
w e l l i n r i v e r s ,w l t t ' r ev a r i , t t r c t t' sr r
d e r p t ha n d c u r r e n t f o r c e s o m a n y
"But whenever conditions allow,
I use the 3-way. I tip the lig with a
4-inch Kalin Grub or Berkley Powe r B a i t R i p p l e S h a d d r e s s e dw i t h a
leechor a crawler."
Lahr molds his own jigs. pour
mine with 4/0 and 5/0 hooks," he
"That way I can slide on a plassays.
tic body on and l'raveroom for a leech
or a crcrwler.If I'm fishing a shad
bodv I pr-rta leech on it. I use half a
crawler lvith a plastic grub. In cold
water I don't bother with bait-just
plastics.As the water
go witli prlair.r
warms I like thirrgsto move more, , ' , : ,. , a : 1 , ' ,
R i g s h e r v ea p l a c e r ,e s p e c i a l l y livebait bccomesessential."
Rathertl'rana 3-way swivel, l-ahr
when they coverrtwc'rclcpths ar.rd
options at L l s e sa rs l i d i n g t w o - s w i v e l s e t u p .
two potential presentatic-xr
the sametime. Lahr usesa modified Iowa, lllir.rois,and Wiscc'rnsin
l)ubuque rig, with a jig at the bottorn fishing tr,r,oltrrespcr rod, so he uses
of tr 3-way rig to take a bait down, Dubr.rquerigs in i,r'artnwater,switchgiving walleyes two choices.Whcn i n g t o F l o a t r n g R a p a l a si n c o l d e r
snagsare a problermhe switches to water.He savstl'rcsticklraitbite dies
l i r r e b ; r i to n a r i s a n c i r o r e d w i t h a a t a b o u t 6 2 " F .L. i v e r b a iot t r a N o r t h l a n c lP h e l p sF l o a t er i s h i s c l r o i c ci n
Lincly No-SnaggSinker.
u s e l / 2 - o r 3 / 4 - o u n c e N o - warmerwatel. ln lr'.rllvlon'r,r'rrter,
Snaggsto pre'sentleechesanclcrawl- usesa plain #2ttt #?/t)\/ N4C()ckrptrs
e r s o n f l o a t i n g j i g h e a r i s , "h e rs t r y s . hook. No beadsor other arttractors.
changesthroughout the day.
"l don't worry about fish see"I
ing the line," he says. use bright
green 8- to 10-pound Fireline or Spiderwire Stealth tied right to the jig.
Fish are making snap decisions as
current sweeps things past. I step
up to 14- or 20-pound where I'm losing a lot of jigs. The best cadenceis
to lift-drop and follow tlre jig back as
current takes it. That allows you to
sweep jigs acrossthe face,often over
a 3O-footarea."
\\'l r
f1 r
_ r
f \\ l-
rT . l
( (l
l l
Livebait Rigging*
Dubuque Rig
s n e l l e d# 2 D a i c h i
O c t o,o u s H o ,o k
m a i n l i n e1 0 - t o
1 5 - p o u n dS p i d e r w i r e
4- to 8-foot leader,
#12 swivel
#12 swivel
one or two
B -t o 1 2 - i n c h
4- to 5-foot leader
leech or crawler
#12 swivell
palomar # 1 2s w i v e l
1 0 - i n c hd r o p p e r ,
1 0 - p o u n dT r i l e n eX T
I N - F I S H E R M A N . C O M
1 1 2c r a w l e r
or leech
c h a r t r e u s eo r r e d
1 0 - p o u n dS p i d e r w i r e
Dlahr's tandem rig
in action.
8 feet,"he says."If l'mfishing wing
dams in skinny water I get rid of the
floater. I like to use 10- to 1S-pound
Spiderwire Stealthfor malnline
when rigging, with 12-pound Trilene
XT for droppers and leaders.In high
water, use a longer leader. In low
water you have better boat control so
you can lighten the jig and shorten
the leader."
Skarlis uses a livebait ris on a
deadstickaround lr ing dams. "A
plain Lindy rig lvith lir.ebait works
as well as anything," he savs."I use
the same 14-to 20-pound braids for
mainline, and a 2-fooi leader tied
with 15- to 20-pound fluorocarbon
becauseof the lebra mussels.Typically, I'm working u'ith a 3/-l-or,rnce
Lindy sinker.
finesse; it's ail offense..I tip
with a leech,a creek chub, a redtail,
a nightcrawler, or a willon' cat (the
deadliestlivebait of ali). I'm fishing
another line at the sametime, so I put
something big on a size#2or size #.1
Daichi Octopushook. Add beadsor
floats to suit your fancy.I usr-rallvjust
go with a plain red hook.
the rig straight behind the
boat to the faceof the wing dam, put
it in the rod holder so the rod's oointing out toward mid river to keep it
out of your way while fishing shallow. Then point it the other way
when you switch to fishing deep."
Lahr often uses a unique a tandem rig consisting of two Floating
Rapalason the same line. The rig is
mostly trolled, but at times he also
castswith it, using a 36-volt trolling
motor to position the boat.
"I like
mono leaders
because it's easier to tie lures on.
Next, I work the wiggle of a Rapala
by varying knot placement on
the nose eye. When it's cold, I like
the plugs to just shiver, so I tie an
improved clinch knot and cinch it up
tight dead center on the nose.To get a
slightly wider wobble, move the knot
up just slightly. For a wide, rolling
wobble, move the knot up even a little more.
first Rapala is tied on a
S-foot leader. Then I tie a 3-foot
leader to the back eye of the first
Rapala and add a smaller Rapala
in that position. In fall I run a #13in
front with a #1! or #9 as a tailgunner.
In spring I use smaller lures; often a
#11un front followed bv a #9 or a#7.I
mighi experiment with leader length
to seewhat the fish want, but mainly
I'm working with the wobble of the
lure. You must reposition the knot
4- to 6-foot
6- to 10-inch'.'r
12 - p o u n d
#9 to#13
#5 to #11 Rapala
3 feet o{
Z- to S-ounce
I N - F I S H E R M A N . C O M
it, it tells you they
almost no action, so at that poiht
make sure that back bait isn't wobbling much by adjusting knot placement. When they're hitting the
tailgunner, they're telling you they
want more action."
The weight of the rig is critical,
so Lahr uses pencil weights, trimming them to the perfect weight. The
rig needs to be just heavy enough
to maintain bottom contact while
swimming the jig or Rapala rig. You
don't want it to drag or blow out.
)Wing Tools
hooks," he says. "If you can'tmove
the bait on the hook-set, you're
toast." He prefers casting reels with
a flippin' switch so he can let out
line and lock it back up with one
hand. He uses the same rods and
reels to present his tandem stick'double-dipala"
bait or
Since the Rapala setup is a coldwater application, he believes scentis
critical and applies Kickin' Walleye
to his lures. He uses his kicker motor
to neutralize the current, setting the
curient with the wing dam behind
this point I'm three boat
lengths from the dam in high water
and right over the top of it in low
watet," he says. "In an upstream
wind, you see the turbulence line
where the water is diverted upward
by the dam. That's the best wind
for wing dams. It slows the river
down and you get distinctive boils
that make it easy to identify the hot
spots. I have my sonars linked, so
X - C h a n g eJ i g s
Sandit l-i.:res
$eries 300 Fnctloose
Ae nr lr
I N - F I S H E R M A N . C O M
the transducer in the back is feeding
units front and back.
smaller jigs and cranks
when the water gets really low. With
the boat right on the end of the dam,
cast perpendicular to the bank and
retrieve right dolvn the slot. I use
d e e p d i v e r s ,c r a n k i n g t h e m d o r , r ' n
until I hit rock, pause,and let it float
up. Walleyesoften tr r, to pin .1.-t'..rlp
against the rock.
"I use
B a n d i t sa n c lt l r t ,l l o r t r b c r
Fat As-lures r.utrstanglt'rsthirrk of
a s ' b a s sc r a n k s . '\ 1 L r : t. r n g i c r sn s e
s h a d - s h a p e dc r an k r . 1 r 1 1d l l e y g 5
d o n ' ts e et o r rl l , r t r r l ; . r r . .tj. , r r l r i c h
w o b b l e b i e a n t l J i r L '. 1 r ' r , 1q.L r i c k .I
c a n s t u t t e r - s t e 1, r. 1 1 , , ' , 4 r, , i i i c j c n t l y
least be
FieldEditorMatt Straw
has morethantwo decadesof experience workingon In-Fisherman
n C T O S Sd L l . l i l r . '
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d a m s , t t l o , 1 - r 1i .''ft , j' r r g t i r r , I i n t l 1 ,
S h a d l i r r igr rr l r r . l. - l i , , 1 . 1...1 ,. , 1 - s
p i u g s w o r k t o o . 1 - r1, 11 1 . , . , 1 , rt1l r1t 'r. . , \ ,
7 A .T l r t ' i (1, . . 'l .r . , . . - 1 , , , ' p .
C r a w f i s h w o r k s . t f t h r , r i r , i ' l r , rr , n d
o f t h e w i n g d a n ' r .! \ i h c n t l r , . . ,i.i r . l ' s
b l o w i n g u p s t r e a n r , i t ; . . t . 1 . , -- , , , , , - ,
a g a i n s tt h e b a c k o f t h c r r i r . t , j . t n r
a n c lc r e a t e a
s n a g g r e s s i v t , b r tT
t ,1. . , t:t
w h e n c r . r r r k sr c . a l l r s, ,i t i n t , \ \ l r . , n
r v i r r , l ' l:) l \ r \ \ ' l t S
r r P r i \ ' ( .\r\' l r ' * , : . r i l aiwaysseer.rr
to hold fish.
t t s e t l - r es a m e t . t c l .l r. , i r r r c r a n k s , " S k a r l i s s a v s ." \ i r L r t l r , r rt
n e e d a l o t o f l i n e c a p a c i t r ,s, o s n r . lrl
reelsare good. The 30-sizePf1r-rcgt,r
President and the Abu Clarciaijt)l
are two of my favorites on a 7-foot
medium-power St. Croix rod. Ii
you're going to err, do it orr tht:
heavy side. In current, you have a
bow in the line, even with superline. You need power to set hooks.
Most of the time you get a goliath
thump-they just stop it. Other
times you have to sensewhen something happens, even with cranks."
Successon wing dams is all about
reading current correctly. In addition to the tips already offered, Lahr
instructs to look for notches in the
dams. Ice flows often rip holes or
gouge the top of dams and the fish
hold in the slower water right along
side a the chute.
No surprise, catching walleyes
on in these situations is all about
details in location and presentation.
Add patienceto the mii. Skarlis:'At
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