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  • Boards for More

    Boards for More

    By Jon Thelen

    It does not seem to matter where my travels have taken me over the last several years; the latest craze throughout the walleye world is trolling.

    While this is obvious from the Missouri River, East through the Great Lakes, it becomes even more overwhelming when visiting any outdoor product retailer. Fishing departments have doubled in size due to the trolling craze. Crankbaits line aisle after aisle, the television on the end-cap is showing technique tips for the trolling spinners in open water and 8-10 foot planer board rods stand tall above 6-foot jigging rods.

    This trolling trend has exploded for several reasons. For one, it is no secret that trolling allows an angler to cover more water at a faster rate of speed than any other technique. Secondly, in many, if not most bodies of water, trolling simply catches more and bigger fish.

    In most states across the Midwest there is yet another reason. The ability to run more than one line per person, two and sometimes three lines each can easily be accomplished by using Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer Boards. Numerous lines can be run off each side of the boat, tangle-free with multiple yellow Off Shore Boards often resembling airplane wings out each side.

    I do not need to explain any more for the angler in multiple line waters, it is simple, if you are not using boards, you are not catching as many fish as you should, or could be!

    Let us look at the less obvious, what about the angler residing in a "one line per person" state? This so happens to include myself and although a lot of my fishing would simply allow me to throw two lines over the gunnel and take off; there are reasons for which boards are almost always over my shoulders!

    For starters, let's talk shallow fish. From early spring through the first part of June and again in late summer through fall, lakes throughout the Midwest host a shallow water bite. I am talking 10 feet or less, but there are variables. Take the typical Minnesota Lake with a weed line which forms in 9-12 feet of water. Early in the season running small crankbaits along and over this emerging weed growth can be deadly.

    Even if I am fishing alone, with the use of an OR12 Side Planer board, I can get my bait to run above the weeds, out to the side of my boat, without spooking the baitfish which the walleye are keying on or the targeted walleye themselves. As friends and/or clients are added to my boat, I can run multiple planer boards out to the weed line side to keep all of my lines equally productive.

    When fishing weedy areas, converting your boards with the OR12TF Off Shore Tackle Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit is a must. There is no better way to tell if you have a "fish on" than being able to watch a flag go down. But for me the Tattle Flag serves another equally important role. It is no secret that a lure inadvertently pulling weeds will be ineffective. With the OR12TF Tattle Flag Kit installed, I can tell if my lures have picked up any debris. When fouled, the flag will slightly pull down or pull down and pop back up. In either of these scenarios, I know that I may have picked up some weeds and I need to reel in and clean my baits.

    Deep water presents altogether different challenges and scenarios. Lakes like Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota boast clean and clear water. With water clarities being what they are, schools of roaming walleye suspend as if they were transplanted from the Great Lakes. There is a simple rule of thumb here. The clearer the water - the more a walleye is apt to rise up and use the whole water column to feed.

    The solution seems easy, simply throw out a couple of lures and pull them several feet over the top of these suspending fish and you should find success, right? Maybe, maybe not.

    Fact is, suspended fish can be both the most aggressive and yet the most spooky at the same time. Aggressive, in the sense that they will explode in chase of a fast swimming crankbait from long distances away, although, spooky enough that the shadow of a boat or noise of an outboard can send them on an equally explosive retreat.

    It's time to get the boards out again. I use the same Off Shore Tackle OR12 (yellow) Side Planer boards although I do make one slight adjustment. I replace the standard OR14 Releases with either OR19 Releases or the OR18 Snapper Adjustable Tension Release. Either one of these higher tension releases will handle the ferocious hit of a larger suspending walleye which has quit often come full throttle from a long distance.

    It doesn't matter whether I am alone or have 4-5 people in my boat, when in open water I run all of my crankbaits behind boards. I use the fish that I graph under my boat to figure the correct depth at which to run my lures at. I also know when I am graphing fish that others are scattered out below my boards and that more are spooking from under my boat out towards my lures.

    Here is another seldom thought of factor. If I make a pass through a school of fish without a bite, I go through my list of most common changes, lure color and/or size and speed adjustments. These changes often produce bites but if they don't, I adjust my distance between the boat and my planer boards.

    There are times, especially when the fish are really high in the water column (I am talking about the top third), that walleye may be spooking further to the sides of the boat than which I am running my boards. By the time that my baits reach the zone, the fish may have already spooked to the outside of my line sets.

    In this situation I simply send my boards out further away from the boat. I work in 10-20 foot increments. While this in 100% trial and error, this additional adjustment has made a difference for me on many occasions. Adding this trick to your trolling arsenal will undoubtedly pay dividends, especially on bright sunny days in clear lakes!

    All said and done, Off Shore Tackle planer boards will help every angler catch more fish. It does not matter what state I may be in or how many lines I am allowed to use. When I am trolling, there are almost always boards over my shoulders!

    source: https://www.offshoretackle.com/artic...l#multipleline

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