To become a more successful fisherman whether you are a casual weekend angler or a die hard tournament veteran it is important to keep some sort of fishing log. It is not only important to store your own successful outings but also to jot down how your neighbor did or the results of a tournament. These entries will help you to put patterns together during different times of the year. It is just as important to keep track of any information of areas of your favorite lake that you don't usually fish so that you are prepared when a trip is planned. I depend on my notes when it comes time to prepare for a tournament on any lake in order to put a specific game plan together. Some important details to journal are weather, water levels, water temperature, presentation, bait, depth, size of fish caught and of course area fished.
While preparing for a professional tournament on Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota during late summer a big fish pattern jumped from my log. While it seemed that live bait rigs was the preferred technique for catching numbers of walleyes; however, my notes told me that many past tournaments in late summer had been won trolling deep diving crankbaits for walleyes in and around the Douglas Bay area. All my information pointed specifically to the chain of islands located on the western edge of the mouth of Douglas Bay and the creek arms where underwater points protruded out into water as deep as 40 feet. With my game plan set I headed out the next morning with one goal and that was to find and catch big Sak suspended walleyes with deep diving crankbaits.
I began my hunt for suspended walleyes along the chain of islands located near the western shoreline at the mouth of Douglas Bay and continued my trolling pattern west to Five Finger Bay. I immediately noticed numerous arches (walleyes) and clouds of baitfish suspended down 25 feet over 30-35 feet of water. Using planer boards to help spread my lines I mixed up my presentation by trolling Bomber Long A's and Reef Runners. My excitement and confidence at this point was awesome; although, my state of excitement was soon overcome with confusion and frustration. I had trolled most of the morning only boating a few small walleyes. I decided it was time to put my Aqua-View camera down for a more up close and personal view. My Pinpoint graph wasn't playing games with me, there were big walleyes suspended and feeding on smelt. Again, I went to battle with these suspended walleyes. I tried everything from different speeds, colors, and wide s-shaped turns and still nothing was happening and I became very unsure of my trolling abilities. That evening back at camp I went back over my late summer notes for Lake Sakakawea and they were telling me to stick to my game plan and continue to pull deep diving crankbaits.
The next morning I began by using my Pinpoint 7520 searching for walleyes along the outer edges of the points located in one of the large creek arms of Douglas Bay. It didn't take long before I was graphing fish. The difference was that these fish were tight to the bottom in 15-20 feet of water rather than suspended. I quickly modified my presentation by shortening the amount of line let out behind the boat. This allowed me to continue to use the larger baits but fish them in shallower water. As the baits on my inside rods began pounding bottom both rods "slammed" back and each had a tournament size walleye hanging on the end. I quickly adjusted my setup so that all my crankbaits would hit bottom periodically and the rest is history.
With the help from my fishing log I felt very confident that I could catch bigger fish trolling crankbaits, and I did. My tournament partner and I continued this pattern and cashed in on some big Lake Sakakawea walleyes.