The following account took place at an undisclosed location in the state of Washington sometime in the early spring of 2012. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Read at your own risk.
I have tried - and failed - to catch a walleye in both Wisconsin and Ohio. And I think I recently found out why. Walleye anglers, at least the ones who actually catch walleye, pursue their quarry and guard their secrets with a religious fervor that I haven't seen in any other fishery. I don't quite mean drink-the-kool-aid religious, but it's definitely passed the I'll-go-to-mass-on-Christmas-and-Easter stage. Somehow they manage to make it so that outsiders catch very few fish. Entrance to the walleye religion is by invitation only, and I was recently invited in.
A few months ago my buddy, let's call him JR, began telling me encrypted stories of catching walleye, or "undisclosed percids" as we called them when anybody else was within earshot (for you normal people, a percid is any fish in the walleye/perch family). He has a secret spot within driving distance of Moscow where he and his wife, who shall be called Calli, have caught undisclosed percids up to 14 lbs. This of course turned me green with envy so I jumped at the chance when he invited me to tag along one Saturday.
He and Calli picked me up at 4:00 am and we headed to the spot. By the time we got the boat in the water it was a little late for the morning bite, and to make matters worse, the wind picked up as soon as we got there which made fishing very difficult. We tried a few different places, all the while trying to get out of the wind, but it was no use, the morning was a bust.
At about 1:30 the wind died down just enough to allow us to fish the spot JR had his eye on. I was the first to hook up and after a short but unenthusiastic fight my first walleye ever was flopping on the deck (species 77 but who's counting)! He wasn't big, about two pounds, but he was surprisingly pretty. I wasn't expecting to see all of the bright yellow markings mixed in with the brown-gold background, and his dental weaponry left little to the imagination.
|Undisclosed percid # 1 for the day on our boat
|A face only a mother could love, or somebody in the religion...
|Did I mention that they have teeth?
I had struck first but JR and Calli didn't waste any time showing me how the devout do it. JR ended up catching two fish up to 5 pounds, and Calli also caught two nice fish in pretty short order.
The other boats that were there were full of people who were clearly also staunch members of the walleye religion. Instead of the friendly greetings and small talk that are usually exchanged when two boats pass in most fisheries, everybody did their best to avoid eye contact or any form of interaction for that matter, at all costs. On the rare occasions when words were exchanged, it was never more than a couple of curt sentences and only partial truths about numbers and locations of fish caught. No one even bothered to ask what the fish were biting on. They knew such questions were forbidden in the religion.
As soon as we started catching fish, the other boats took notice and several of them tried to move in on our spot (which for some reason, the devout are permitted to do). We had a couple of near collisions and one boat followed right behind us for about 20 minutes, but as if by some unspoken consensus, we ended up winning the spot - it could have had something to do with the fact that dinner time was soon approaching, or that we were the only ones catching fish, but whatever the reason, all the other boats eventually ended up leaving. Calli was the last to strike after everyone else had left. She rounded out the day with a big 6 lb female which she promptly released.
Even though I didn't get a big one, I have been shown the ways, and I'll be back. I have been permitted into the religion - even if I'm still just a low ranking inductee. I won't tell you where we were, or what we were using, but I can say that there's definitely a technique to catching these undisclosed percids.
Here is the video:
This message will self-destruct....