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This week's Feature Blog

Learning Never Stops

By: Mark Romanack

Captain Eric is about to scoop another Lake Erie walleye. Note how stained the water is. In stained water the more visible a bait is, the more strikes it’s likely to produce.

The day I stop learning new things about fishing is the day I call it a career. I’ve been chasing walleye professionally for more than three decades. Admittedly some times it feels like the learning curve has flattened out. Other days a new nugget of knowledge promises to rewrite the walleye “how to” directory.

​ Recently, I had the pleasure of fishing with Captain Eric Hirzel of Erie Gold Fishing Adventures. I’ve known Eric for many years. We talk fishing often, but had never enjoyed the pleasure of sharing a boat together.

​I finally got my chance to fish aboard Eric’s boat thanks to Bill Lewis the manufacturer of the Precise Walleye Crank and Precise Walleye Crank Lite. In an effort to showcase these new crankbaits, Bill Lewis sponsored the “Dream Walleye Trip” contest and the winners were treated to a Lake Erie walleye charter. Jake and I got to tag along to help set lines and net fish as they came to the back of the boat.


​We trolled PWC and PWC Lite crankbaits using Off Shore Tackle OR12 boards to spread out our lines and cover more water. That part was pretty much as I expected.

The PWC Lite is offered in five color patterns that feature a chrome lip. Chrome lip baits produce extra flash that is important when fishing in heavily stained water. This Chrome Huff n Puff pattern has taken countless fish this spring. 


What Captain Eric does that surprised me is he runs diving crankbaits off the corners of his boat using the Big Fish Tuff Tru-Trip Diver.

​I’ve fished divers off the corners for walleye many times over the years. This is a simple and easy way to get a couple bonus lines in the water that are quick to set. Normally it’s a spoon or shallow diving stickbait that gets used on these divers.

​ “I’ve been having such great success running the PWC Lites on boards, I wanted to get more of them in the water,” says Captain Eric. “Adding a couple more on my corner diver rods has produced a pile of bonus fish for my customers.”

​ When the water has some stain to it, Captain Eric uses the Tru-Trip 50. This diver reaches depth quickly, helping to keep leads short making it super fast to land hooked fish and reset that line. The Tru-Trip isn’t a directional diver, but when the water has some color to it, walleye have no hesitation hitting baits positioned just a few feet away from the boat.

​ When the water clears up, he switches to a standard size No. 1 Dipsy Diver without the ring set on the No. 3 setting. This set up works nicely to get baits out away from the boat.  

This chrome lipped PWC Lite has been literally tearing up the Lake Erie walleye. Captain Eric Hirzel of Erie Gold Fishing Adventures fishes this bait on a Tru-Trip 50 diver off the corners of his boat. This set up produces countless bonus fish day in and day out.


​ This spring has been exceptionally windy. Lake Erie has been turned upside down over and over again thanks to high winds and heavy seas. “Normally we look for “green” or lightly stained water when pulling crankbaits, but this spring we have been forced to fish in down right dirty water most days,” explains Captain Eric. “The PWC Lite features five color patterns with a solid chrome bill. That chrome bill gives off a lot of flash and has really helped us consistently produce fish in water that only has a few inches of visibility.

​ The five PWC Lites with chrome lips include SeaSick Frog, Chrome WonderBread, Neon Perch, Chrome Blue/Orange Belly and Chrome Huff n Puff.


​ Targeting walleye has always interested me because there are so many ways to skin a cat. The more I fish for walleye, the more I realize the learning curve never ends.



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