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The Walleye Spoon Bite Begins

By: Mark Romanack

Jake Romanack of Fishing 411 TV fights a summer walleye while Gabe VanWormer captures all the action for a Fishing 411 TV episode. Lake Erie is the king of spoon trolling bites, but spoons are also popular walleye lures on places like Green Bay, Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

​ Soon the walleye spoon trolling bite will kick into gear. In places like Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay, spoons amount for a significant percentage of the walleye taken during the warmer months of the year. The spoon bite kicks in when the water temperature hits about 60 degrees and lasts in earnest until the water temperatures drop again in the fall.


​ When it comes to catching walleye on trolling spoons, just any spoon is not going to get the job done. Spoons designed for trolling walleye need to be sized accordingly. Because walleye routinely feed on small “young of the year” forage minnows in the late spring and summer, a small spoon is required to entice the maximum number of bites.

​ For decades my “go to” spoon for walleye trolling has been the Wolverine Tackle Jr. Streak. Designed especially with walleye in mind, these small spoons have just the right “kick” in the water to trigger aggressive strikes. The Jr. Streak is a slender spoon that is designed to imitate the emerald shiner, a common forage species all across the Great Lakes region.

​ Available in more colors than you can count, the paint finishes on the Jr. Streaks are second to none. Also, the cup side of the Jr. Streak is available in silver, copper, gold or a wide variety of painted finishes. In short, when you start adding up all the combinations of color and flash available with a Jr. Streak spoon, it becomes apparent why they are so consistently good at filling the live-well.

​ As the summer wains on, a second spoon is important to consider. The Mini Streak is a little longer and wider than the Jr. Streak and it does a great job of imitating larger forage species such as gizzard shad or alewives.

​ The Mini Streak also comes in a wide assortment of colors and plating finishes.

​ Both the Jr. Streak and Mini Streak have a wide speed tolerance, which means they can be fished slow, at moderate speeds or faster speeds. This feature alone is worth the price of admission because trolling speed is one of the key elements to triggering strikes from summer time walleye.

In the heat of summer, the author uses a slightly larger spoon called the Wolverine Tackle Mini Streak to target walleye. Bodies of water that feature gizzard shad or alewives tend to be the places where the Mini Streak gets red hot. When fishing places where smaller forage fish like emerald shiners are abundant, the smaller Jr. Streak gets the nod.


​ The biggest mistake I see anglers making when trolling spoons is using cheap swivels. To get the maximum action from a spoon requires an investment in ball bearing swivels. An ordinary brass crane swivel is simply not going to cut it.

​ Ball bearing swivels are expensive, but they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to getting the most from trolling spoons.


​ In most trolling situations I’m a firm believer in using monofilament line. When it comes to trolling spoons, I favor a super braid that has ultra low stretch. Low stretch lines give spoons more snap and action at all speeds. The ideal braid for fishing walleye spoons range from 10 to 15 pound test.


​ Since spoons don’t dive on their own, some sort of diving device must be incorporated to get the spoon to depth. Depending on what body of water an angler visits, the list of popular divers varies.

​ On Lake Erie most anglers who troll spoon use floating divers such as the Tru Trip Diver made by Big Fish Tuff or the Jet Diver produced by Luhr Jensen. Both of these divers float at rest and dive when trolled, making them ideal for trolling with spoons.

​ The braid main line is attached directly to the tow arm on the floating diver. A 15 pound test fluorocarbon leader about 5-6 feet in length is attached to the back of the diver, a ball bearing swivel is added and then the spoon.

​ In places where the water is fairly shallow like Saginaw Bay, the Tadpole Diver produced by Off Shore Tackle is a popular device for getting spoons to depth. The No. 2 Tadpole does a nice job of getting spoons down to that 15 to 20 foot depth range.

​ While floating divers and the Tadpole Diver are a couple of popular options for trolling spoons, there are many other choices including the Mini Dipsy, Big Jon Mini Disk, Dream Weaver Deeper Divers and lead core line can also be used to effectively troll spoons for summer walleye.

​ How a person chooses to get their gear to depth is a personal decision. The device that gets the spoon to depth is less important than knowing how deep that device will dive on respective lead lengths and trolling speeds.


​ Trolling spoons can be deployed using both in-line boards like the popular Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer or using tradition planer board mast systems. The choice here is again personal. Both options work well for trolling up summer walleye with spoons.


​ For anyone who is serious about trolling spoons in open water, the Precision Trolling Data phone app is an invaluable aid in predicting the running depth of popular divers and sinking lines. The PTD app is available at the Google Play store for Android devices and the Apple App Store for Apple devices.

​ Once the PTD app is uploaded to your phone, the data can be accessed anywhere and without the benefit of cell phone coverage.

​ Anglers who go “old school” and experiment with different lead lengths and trolling speeds until they find a productive combination will still catch fish, but they will waste a lot of valuable fishing time in the process. The PTD app is a short cut to getting your trolling gear to the necessary depths, quick and easy.


​ The spoon bite starts about the same time the lilacs are blooming and the action stays red hod until after a few frosts have cooled the water down. For those who have not taken the plunge into trolling spoons, there is no better time than the present to get on the “spoon train”.


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