“You could predict within seconds when a big walleye ….”

Walleye and Live Bait
Walleye and live bait - a combination for fishing

Minneapolis, MN – Professional angler James Holst has spent plenty of time both in front of and behind the camera lens. Host and producer of the TV fishing program In-Depth Outdoors, Holst recently aimed MarCum underwater video cameras at some true freshwater trophies. During a filming trip to an undisclosed lake, Holst captured footage of numerous bruiser walleyes as they investigated lures and live minnows fished in just 6-feet of gin-clear water.

After several days of fishing and filming, Holst had watched dozens of 6 to 10-pound walleyes both eat and ignore his offerings, landing an impressive number of these outsized predators in the process. The immaculate clarity of the water and shallow depth provided a rare glimpse into the underwater feeding habits of these coveted sportfish. “We like to think of walleyes as fairly easy-going animals that feed with the utmost care and finesse,” said Holst, in reference to his amazing underwater footage. “The reality is, these shallow water fish were just as active and predatory as bass or pike.”

“Most amazing to me,” Holst continued, “were the absolute opposite ways in which these big fish reacted to the minnows, depending on the bait’s action or lack thereof. I think most anglers would be surprised by how often their minnows aren’t swimming in ways that attract fish. Every time our baits failed to show signs of life-kicking their tails and trying to swim away-walleyes coasted by without even giving the little morsels a look. I think they literally viewed the hook and motionless minnow as an inanimate object.

“On the other hand, when we had an active minnow down there, reactions were strikingly aggressive. Even though the walleyes were actively hunting food, they absolutely would not consider biting unless our baits were lively and kicking. Whenever a minnow pulsed its body, these big walleyes lost all inhibition and became deadly hunters.”

Holst continued: “These fish were mostly honing in on the vibration of pulsing baitfish, rather than visually inspecting their movements. We captured several live strikes that show walleyes facing completely away from the minnow; yet as soon as the bait gave a little kick, the fish executed a lightning fast 180 and engulfed the meal. The vibrations of active baitfish are super powerful triggers for walleyes, and these ‘blind strikes’ really drove the point home. It was a pretty amazing lesson on the power of using healthy, lively bait. It’s hard to appreciate this until you see the difference on the screen of one of these MarCum cameras.”

Another fascinating observation made by Holst related to schools of small baitfish that frequently appeared on-screen. “You could predict within seconds when a big walleye or two on the hunt were about to swim through, because all of a sudden the baitfish school would vanish off the screen. We quickly learned this meant it was time to pay attention to our baits, as within seconds one of these wolf-pack walleyes would shoot into the frame and attack. You don’t often get to do this kind of sight-fishing for big walleyes. It was truly a thrilling experience that proved again the power of lively, active bait.”

Holst’s footage of walleyes zipping in and out of frame will air in an upcoming episode of In-Depth Outdoors on the Fox Sports Network.

Jim Shepard

The Fishing Wire

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