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Rod, Gun and Game: Walleye and bass anglers share passion for fishing

Sonar units like this one can make finding the fish a cinch, whether fishing for bass, walleye or other species.

HAMBURG — If you talk to walleye fishermen about bass fishing, they squirm and look at the ceiling, smile, seem to get shy, trying not to be somewhat offensive about their position, which is – “bass fishing is a waste of time!”

If you ask a bass fisherman about walleye fishing, most will admit to one thing - the like to eat them, but not necessarily fish for them. They hate the usual fishing methods for walleye. These include long hours of trailing a 300 foot-long troll line off distant planer boards. These require physical effort just to reel in the lines to check for fouling.

Then the bass fisherman secretly confide, “And there is just a small glimmer of hope that a walleye will get hungry enough to mistake their artificial lure for tasty forage while you are trolling open water with no visible or measureable structure. Seems like a waste of time.” They all pretty much think this way.

There is not enough instantaneous action for them. They really enjoy their pursuit of bass. They cast a lure, reel it back in, hold the rod, hold the reel, set the hook to a reaction strike from the fish and then test their own capabilities to cast for accuracy and follow with their best fight to land the fish. Their wish is that the hook holds, from the moment of first introduction to their finny critters.

With walleye, it’s a matter of the boat speed moving forward and sharp hooks that set the hook. The angler is required to reel in the fish…all 300 feet, somewhat robotically according to some, when they are not sleeping. So, why do walleye anglers have an army of followers?

The answer is that walleye anglers not only enjoy the fruits of their fishing labor, they are even more serious about conquering the challenge of finding the fish and filling their allowable daily creel limit. Most walleye anglers are passionate about walleye fishing, but above all, my observations during the ongoing Southtowns Walleye Annual Walleye Fishing Contest is that they enjoy the camaraderie of fishing contests.

Walleye anglers know that when the walleye are biting, anyone can catch them. When they are not biting, especially during contest events, they share secrets about their equipment, tricks about leaders, action modifications to their lures, special rigs, special tactics and lake limnology, which includes their understanding of wind direction and resulting lake currents.

Lake currents affect everything about walleye fishing, because changes to lake currents affect forage location, trolling direction, predator alignment beneath the surface and the thinking that follows to allow an angler to be effective when he goes to fish for walleye.

Overall, bass are easier to catch than walleye, but weather changes usually can be charged with turning the bass species of Western New York (largemouth and smallmouth bass) fish on or off. When bass are “off,” or not biting, professional bass catchers will share that the fish will not look at a casted lure or even live bait.

Walleye are little different, but since walleye are a lake-roaming species, anglers can always blame the “size” of the lake for their ill-success while fishing for walleye. On the other hand, there may be a strategy for walleye anglers that bass anglers may not be able to share: having friends that fish different sectors of large lakes, like Lake Erie, who are willing to share information with their fishing friend’s network – especially during competitions.

My experience is that walleye anglers talk more with each other (maybe tell more tall tales too), trying to confuse their opposition as much as help them with laughter from jokes of the moment.

Both angler types need good equipment, good line, rods, reels, lures and the long list of accessories. For bass and walleye anglers, new technology has developed their focus regarding where to fish, how deep, how far away (laterally) and provide much more information such as water temperature, boat speed, GPS, estimated time of arrival for boaters and so much more.

Today, we have low-cost, highly accurate, down-scan sonar and side-scan sonar. These devices find fish, eliminate wasted time and allow the angler to tighten efforts near high potential fishing areas. The lowest cost units run around $100; the best sonar units, however, are about $3,000.

The two most popular sonar companies are Hummingbird and Lowrance, though it appears that Hummingbird has taken the lead in the underwater sonar market with regard to anglers. Lowrance sonar was once the standard by which all others were measured, but today, anglers everywhere seem to concur that Lowrance appears to have not advanced their once-high-stature acceptance with anglers around the globe.

One stop at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops to review all sonar manufacturers will quickly identify that Hummingbird sonar units are considered a superior choice, for multiple reasons. From my view, as I do not have a latest technology Hummingbird unit, I need one, I want one and I am saving for such a unit now!

Having the most efficient sonar makes sense because the devices translate to catching more fish and wasting less time looking for them. A good book and a comfortable chair along a stream or lake with kids or grandkids might also be time well spent.

Happy Father’ Day to all our outdoor dads.

Boaters using department of environmental conservation boat launches are now required to clean and drain their boats, prior to launch. As part of an aggressive effort to prevent invasive species from entering and damaging New York water bodies, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has enacted new regulations that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching from DEC lands. The regulations pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing access sites and other DEC lands where watercraft such as boats, kayak or canoes can be launched into the water.

Boaters should visually inspect their boats, trailers and other fishing and boating equipment to remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to it. Materials should be disposed of in one of the Nuisance Invasive Species Disposal Stations installed at many DEC boat launches, in the trash or at an upland location away from the launch ramp. Boaters must also drain the boat’s bilge and any other water holding compartments such as live wells, bait wells and bilge tanks. The new law does not apply to water associated with sanitary systems or drinking water supplies. Drying boats is also highly recommended, but is not required under the new regulations.

Outdoor calendar

June 26-27: BASSEYE event, benefit for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For more information, call 204-2535

Send outdoor information for the calendar to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, via email to


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