Jason Mitchell's Articles

August 2017


Structure Trolling Refinded
by Jason Mitchell
Historically, trolling structure come mid-summer was "big picture thinking" in that we chose long contours and consistent break lines where we could put lures behind the boat and go. Because of the amount of line behind the boat, we needed room to work for trolling to be effective. Large flats and or a long consistent contour line was a perfect candidate for trolling crankbaits. Big spots were ... more

July 2017


Shallow Crank Bites for Walleye
by Jason Mitchell
Walleye anglers have long loved crankbaits. Across many walleye fisheries, tried and true tactics incorporate trolling and for good reason. Trolling cranks allow you to break down big locations and cover water. There are several opportunities however where anglers can cast crankbaits and catch more fish. Casting crankbaits is predominately a shallow water affair for fishing in less than fi... more

June 2017


Guide Perspectives on Natural Lake Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Early season walleye patterns on many of northern Minnesota's most renown walleye fisheries often occur in less than twelve feet of water. While classic deep structure patterns will quickly emerge as the summer progresses, many anglers miss opportunities by looking too deep during early summer. Crestliner Boats Pro and guide Scott Seibert has spent a lot of time on these fisheries, particul... more
Power Rigging
by Jason Mitchell
Live bait is a critical component to catching walleye on many fisheries. Even with the advent of soft plastics and the fact that more walleye anglers have confidence with artificial baits, there is still a time and place for live bait. With today's presentations that have replaced live bait with soft plastics in regards to both rigging and jigging, the fall back to live bait often correlates wit... more

May 2017


Dragging and Slow Trolling Plastics
by Jason Mitchell
So often with walleye fishing, we get conditioned to think a certain way regarding a presentation. We fish life bait rigs below the boat. We troll crankbaits. We pitch jigs. We get locked into how a specific presentation should be fished. What can become detrimental to our own growth as anglers is we quit thinking and quit experimenting with the potential of how some presentations can be used.... more

April 2017


Early Season Checklist for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
For many walleye anglers across the upper Midwest, some of the first open water walleye fishing opportunities occur each year on river systems like the Wolf River, Missouri River, Mississippi River and Rainy River to name a few. While each system can have specific nuances that make that system somewhat unique, river walleyes also follow some of the same general rules regardless of where they swim... more
Opening Day Tactics
by Jason Mitchell
A new season of optimism awaits. In many states, the inland walleye seasons open in May. Even in states where there is no closed walleye season, the kickoff on many natural lakes and some reservoirs begins in earnest during the same time. What has always amazed me is how patterns and locations can sometimes vary from year to year. No two years are quite the same. Ice out dates flux, surface w... more
Turkey Hunting's Three Seasons
by Jason Mitchell
Arctic Shield Pro Staff Hunter Art Helin has hunted turkeys all over North America and has guided turkey hunters for over thirty years. With so many turkey hunts that blur together over the years and across such diverse areas throughout the Country, Helin is quick to point out so many regional nuances. "We have seen where osceola turkeys pitch right into the open field at day break because of ... more

July 2016


Walleyes in a Snap
by Jason Mitchell
Trolling patterns that cover water and break down big locations with crankbaits often seem to dominate the walleye scene come mid summer. As fish pull out over deep contours or basins and in some cases suspend over open water, nothing beats a crankbait for eliminating water. Part of what makes trolling crankbaits so effective as we move towards the heart of the summer is that a crankbait is th... more

June 2016


The Meanest Walleye
by Jason Mitchell
I make no secret for my love for shallow weed pattern walleyes. These fish are aggressive and will hit baits with force. Spend any time chasing muskies and sooner or later, don't be surprised to find your retrieve interrupted by a big old "Walter" smashing down on a bucktail or spinnerbait. These weed fish don't even act like the walleyes many of us were groomed to catch in our youth when we th... more

February 2016


The High Road for Panfish
by Jason Mitchell
Panfish can suspend anywhere in the water column and a big equation for locating fish and putting together a pattern is dialing in that productive zone. Before electronics, anglers often fished down through the entire water column. The edge that sonar gives us today is that we can speed up the process of getting back down to fish which makes us more efficient. What also happens as we race back ... more

November 2015


Night Shift Walleye
by Jason Mitchell
Not all bodies of water offer solid after dark fishing opportunities for walleye but there are so many notable fisheries where we have traditionally caught the majority of fish or sometimes the largest fish long after the witching hour when the sun sinks into the horizon. On many bodies of water, the best walleye fishing happens after dark. From Montana's Fort Peck Reservoir to the Finger Lakes ... more
Panoramic Panfish
by Jason Mitchell
There can be some surprisingly solid fishing for panfish on lakes and reservoirs that might lack the classic weed growth. From an ice angling perspective, good weeds in the wintertime often correlates with good water visibility. Poor water visibility, turbidity or exposure to strong winds might create panfish water that might offer at least shallow weed beds during the summer but by winter, most... more

September 2015


Walleyes In Formation
by Jason Mitchell
The advantage of trolling crankbaits for walleye is twofold. You can cover a lot of water and swipe through large areas and you can also trigger fish that might not respond to some slower and subtler presentations. On so many bodies of water, we see a transition that gains intensity as fall transcends into summer where crankbaits seem to trigger more fish especially if you are looking for big fi... more
Walleyes on Target
by Jason Mitchell
So many situations come late summer and fall where if walleye are present, they are going to show up on electronics. When walleye start stacking up on rock reefs, deep points and classic structure that is between fifteen and forty feet of water, you are going to see fish on the screen. Bare spots that are void of life are usually a waste of time. No arches, no clutter, no bumps on the bottom of... more

August 2015


Farm Country Whitetails
by Jason Mitchell
So much of the information written or said about whitetail hunting originates from big woods hunting. While there are lessons that can be learned or reapplied wherever deer roam, tactics and strategies can change dramatically as the terrain changes. What makes whitetails such remarkable animals is their adaptableness. What I found as I picked up a bow and pursued whitetails is that many of the ... more

July 2015


Jig and Pig Walleye
by Jason Mitchell
Note: This article was authored by Jim Cunningham who is a staff writer for Jason Mitchell Outdoors. Anglers often debate the merits of soft plastics versus live bait. When temptation is necessary to coax difficult walleye into biting, good live bait often trumps soft plastics but what many walleye anglers have discovered is that soft plastics can often work as good or better than live bait f... more

May 2015


Big Time Walleyes on Small Time Water
by Jason Mitchell
Larger established bodies of water get a lot of attention from walleye anglers. Well-known destination fisheries are some of the surest bets for experiencing great fishing. Locations like Devils Lake in northeastern North Dakota or Lake Sakakawea in western North Dakota are two premier walleye fishing destinations in North Dakota. I also love Fort Peck Reservoir in eastern Montana. Walker is o... more

December 2014


Walleye on the Edge
by Jason Mitchell
By midwinter on many bodies of water, walleye location can often trend towards off shore structure and in many cases, deep structure. With the advent of map chips, more anglers are discovering and fishing these locations. A mistake I have made in the past when fishing deep structure is relying too much on what the contour line on the map charts. What is more important than any contour is the tr... more

July 2014


Loading Up Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Like many anglers, I learned how to live bait rig for walleyes with the bail open and my trigger finger on the line. At the first indication of a bite, the though process was to let line peel off the spool giving fish line so that they could swallow the bait. Anglers insisted that the less a walleye feels your presence, the better. There are situations where giving to the fish whether it b... more

April 2014


Open Season Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Some of the earliest open water walleye fishing opportunities occur each season on river systems and flowages or bottle neck areas that open up because of current. Open seasons and open water are necessary and there are so many good early season fishing opportunities. The Mississippi River, Rainy River, Fox River and the Missouri River all come to mind. Each of these fisheries are drastically d... more

January 2014


Dead Sticking Revised
by Jason Mitchell
In a perfect world, we would always be able to fish for fish that make us look good. Fish that burn up to the presentation and rise to meet and greet you. Fish that are looking for a meal and want to eat. So often with fishing, we are dealt our hand of cards however and there are times when we have to react and make adjustments to what the fish are giving us. Massive cold fronts and othe... more
Hit and Run Perch
by Jason Mitchell
Schools of perch often seem to continually be on the move. When there are several mouths to feed, sitting in one location doesn't work. A school of perch can devour everything in its path. I would hate to be a minnow or crawfish when jumbo and all of his friends roll through. Because schools of perch are typically here today and gone tomorrow because of their nomadic lifestyle, finding and get... more

December 2013


An Eye For An Eye
by Jason Mitchell
Matching Up for Ice Walleyes When fish are moving, you can sit on a good spot and catch fish as they push through. When fish quit moving, you have to push through a spot to keep contacting fish. This can really be evident when targeting both walleye and perch. Especially with shallower water patterns on many lakes where we are finding fish in less than fifteen feet of water, these fish mov... more

November 2013


Walleyes on the Rim
by Jason Mitchell
Each early ice season is almost a space race in regard to reaching spots further out on fishable ice while still being safe. Simply put, there are just spots that we know will be good and usually, the first people on those spots are going to catch some really nice fish. This phenomena happens on Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs, Devils Lake and several other major walleye fisheries. The spot we ca... more

September 2013


Cool Down Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Cooling water temperatures often make the classic fall bites better. As water temperatures steadily cool come fall and sink below seventy degrees, solid patterns seem to develop. My favorite patterns are classic breaks and hard bottoms over deeper off shore structure, along with current or bottlenecks and shallow rock and weeds. What is kind of interesting regarding fall fishing is that the tri... more

July 2013


Short Line Cranks for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
No two lakes are ever the same so there is no rubber stamp that covers all situations when it comes to fish location. That is the beauty of fishing, you can put together a pattern that works really well on a given fishery and then travel twenty miles and find a completely different set of rules. Even on a given lake, different parts of a lake will have unique characteristics that set each area apa... more

June 2013


Hot Patterns for Cool Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
This 2013 season looks to be a later spring where everything is behind schedule from a biological perspective. Colder water temperatures can be a double edged sword. Some patterns happen later or don't happen at all. When we have had cool, late springs in the past, good solid patterns for shallow water held on much longer than usual and resulted in overall good fishing conditions. Overall, so... more

May 2013


Inside Angles on Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
No secret that walleyes use weeds an awful lot and despite the fact that walleyes are known to use weeds so often, many walleye anglers still avoid fishing weeds. Take a quick look around many good walleye fisheries from the opener on through summer and the armada of boats are typically dangling lines over classic structure. Even on lakes with slot limits where the same fish can be caught seve... more

April 2013


Skinny Water Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
No secret that walleyes move into shallow water come spring but a lesson I have had to relearn a handful of times over the years is simple, don't be afraid to look for fish in a foot or two of water come spring. Many anglers will fish shallow particularly early in the year but often stop at that three foot mark. There are probably many reasons that cause walleyes to position themselves into a fo... more

March 2013


Bug Brained Perch at Late Ice
by Jason Mitchell
There is no silver bullet with late ice perch regarding location but make no mistake, some of the most impressive catches and fishing for the whole calendar year take place in march. Late ice is prime time for jumbo but the tactics and patterns can run the gamut. On so many lakes, perch move relatively shallow and become more aggressive as the ice rots. Large sand flats or gently sloping f... more

February 2013


Punching Bluegills
by Jason Mitchell
If there is a general rule of thumb, water with decent to excellent visibility often has good weed growth that can remain through the course of a winter. Granted, snow cover can eliminate light penetration which in turn can knock down vegetation but if there are weeds, typically there are bluegills. Most lakes have a variety of weed types and we have found bluegills around just about anythi... more

January 2013


Jumbo Perch Talk
by Jason Mitchell
When we look at catching jumbo perch through the ice, I dare say that we typically catch ninety percent of the fish in a ten percent window. Perch fishing on most bodies of water consists of drilling holes to get on fish and getting that one or two flurries that fills the pail. You can go from zero to hero in about twenty minutes when you finally strike pay dirt. The key to putting the sm... more

December 2012


Fish Posture and Strategy
by Jason Mitchell
When you watch fish on an underwater camera, you can usually tell if that fish is going to eat just by how the fish is postured. Let's take walleyes for example, walleyes that are in attack mode typically have a different posture… the fins are up and the back is arched. All fish including bluegills and crappie have that posture where they mean business. The fish are cruising and alert. These a... more

November 2012


Pull Position Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
I am convinced that in order to really catch walleyes through the ice, you have to be good at finding fish. The first people on a school score big. By the time word reaches the bar, the bite is over. People who are always hitting new ice and checking fresh spots are usually one step ahead of the crowds. By venturing out and finding fish, you can also fish much more aggressively for a few diffe... more

October 2012


Fine Tuning Decoys Spreads for More Geese
by Jason Mitchell
The formation of the decoy spread and how the pocket is positioned contributes tremendously to how birds approach and drop into the spread. Hunters as a rule worry about or place a heavy emphasis on many details that aren't nearly as important as the shape and size of the landing spot which needs to be adjusted accordingly to different situations that arise. Many hunters are familiar with th... more

September 2012


Classic Fall Crankbait Patterns for Huge Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
The fact that walleye fishing is good come fall is no secret. Realistically one of the best times of year for seeing solid patterns develops with great fishing. Big fish are often fairly easy to target with some consistency. Despite how good the fishing is late in the open water season, there are not that many people out fishing come fall on many major walleye fisheries. Just too many things t... more

August 2012


Trolling Programs to Catch More Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Catching more walleyes on crankbaits sometimes boils down to having a system or program in the boat that enables you to keep the lures in the water in front of fish. When you have a system in place that enables you to hustle and keep lures in the water and also enables you to either stack lures in tight formations or use multiple planer boards, you get lures in front of that many more fish. Ther... more

July 2012


Secrets to Catching Big Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Big fish will typically push smaller fish off of a spot if the big fish want to set up on that spot. Bass fishing is probably the best example of locations or spots that are typically big fish spots because so often, we can readily see what makes a location so attractive. Not all docks for example are the same. Some docks have a better scour hole from a big motor powering up on a boat lift. Do... more

June 2012


Slip Bobber Nuances for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
As a guide, I believed that the most effective game plans just kept walleye fishing straight forward and simple. There are plenty of folks in this business who try to make fishing really complicated and you can make fishing akin to rocket science if you wish… I however made a living as a guide by dumbing the process down. I found that by keeping the process simple, I could accommodate people wit... more

May 2012


Rethinking the Trolling Game for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Trolling for walleyes used to be regarded as more of an intimate affair. The boats twenty or thirty years ago were typically much smaller so we sat closer to the water. Before specifically designed trolling rods and line counter reels, crank baits were often trolled with low profile bait casters or spinning reels. All an angler needed was a six foot medium action rod. Line was watched, lure vi... more

April 2012


The Deep Adjustment for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
We often find walleyes at late ice in shallow water. We often find walleyes at some point each spring in shallow water. Walleyes typically spawn in shallow water and there are all kinds of reasons for fish to be shallow early in the season. Warmer water, the right bottom composition for spawning and enough memories from catching fish shallow in the past makes looking deep early in the season ha... more

March 2012


March Transitions: Run and Gun Perch Tactics at Late Ice
by Jason Mitchell
Strong perch patterns occur across the board at late ice. Typical locations include gravel and sand, subtle rolling structure that is connected to the shoreline is often productive. During the late ice period, perch often move shallow and if there is atypical rule of thumb regarding shallow perch, it is that they are aggressive and on the move. These fish run in packs and don't stick around. T... more

February 2012


Catch Walleyes All Winter
by Jason Mitchell
Many ice anglers associate the end of January and beginning of February with mid winter doldrums. Many anglers believe that first ice and late ice is the best ice for fishing and the in between ice… not so good. There is some truth to the midwinter doldrums particularly with smaller lakes. Now not to say a lake less than five hundred acres cannot be red hot in the middle of winter because they ... more

November 2011


First Ice Tactics that Work
by Jason Mitchell
We do much of our filming on late ice. We take a lot of our photos at late ice as well. The reason is simple, long relatively nice days on the ice where you can expect sweatshirt weather. When the sun begins to rot the ice, you can expect to get some work done if you are in the business filming television shows as you typically get good fishing and weather that doesn't freeze fingertips and cam... more

October 2011


Fine Tuning Decoys Spreads for More Geese
by Jason Mitchell
The formation of the decoy spread and how the pocket is positioned contributes tremendously to how birds approach and drop into the spread. Hunters as a rule worry about or place a heavy emphasis on many details that aren't nearly as important as the shape and size of the landing spot which needs to be adjusted accordingly to different situations that arise. Many hunters are familiar with th... more

September 2011


Trophy Gators of Fall
by Jason Mitchell
As an angler, I find the distribution of northern pike fascinating. Pike basically inhabit the northern latitudes of the entire globe spanning from North America to Europe and Asia. In some high mountain lakes and the arctic shield, pike are considered an invasive species. The predatory appetite these fish possess is incredible. While pike are indeed common across the upper Midwest and much of... more

August 2011


Late Summer Surge for Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Many anglers struggle to catch walleye as late summer progresses into fall. Fish can be scattered and patterns can seem inconsistent. Typically on many fisheries where several forage options exist, there can be a lot of different patterns happening at once with no single pattern dominating fish location. There might be fish scattered both shallow and deep. What we often find ourselves doing is... more
Mud Line Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
Wind and chop on the water often makes or breaks walleye fishing success. As wind directions and velocities change through the course of a day, adapting to the opportunities created by wind requires some flexibility. Mid summer often finds extended periods of stable weather with varying wind. One of the top patterns particularly for shallow or aggressive fish is rolling with what the wind deals... more

July 2011


Walleyes on Flats
by Jason Mitchell
If there is one spot, one pattern that is capable of producing a lot of walleyes for us each season early in the summer, my vote would go to large shallow flats that protrude to deep water. Shallow is relative along with deep but what we are looking for are flats that are generally at least one acre or sometimes several hundred acres that might be in anywhere from five to fifteen feet of water. ... more

June 2011


Live Bait Rigging Defined
by Jason Mitchell
Live bait rigging is all about angles. The amount of weight on the sinker combined with the amount of line out determines the angle that the line takes from the rod tip to the water. The direction that you hover or move either across structure or up and down through structure determines the angle that the boat has to cross structure to catch the most fish. Master the angles and you catch way mo... more

May 2011


Long Lines for Spring Walleye
by Jason Mitchell
Over the years, an incredibly effective tactic for us is to long line a light jig or split shot rig through shallow water. In states where we could use two rods in particular, we often used the long line rig on the extra rod in the rod holder. There are probably several reasons why this set up works so well at times but I can attest to the fact that I have been out fished several times by the ro... more

April 2011


Fast Forward Spots for Spring Walleyes
by Jason Mitchell
There is a general rule of thumb that fish are often located in shallow water during the spring and fish progressively move deeper as the year progresses. There is often some merit to this general rule of thumb but remember that there are always factors that can change or alter this generic migration. Weeds for example may hold walleyes shallow well into the open water season. Wind or rising wa... more

March 2011


Shallow Water Details
by Jason Mitchell
The fact that fish move into shallow water during the early part of the open water season is no secret. This general pattern is fairly universal with both warm water and cool water fish that spawn in the spring. Whether the targeted species is bass, walleyes, northern pike or even pan fish, anglers are often finding fish shallow providing that the weather is stable and that this shallow water is... more

February 2011


Deep Panfish At Late Ice
by Jason Mitchell
The late ice period is often a prime window for anglers targeting panfish. Bluegills, jumbo perch and crappies often stage in somewhat predictable locations as the ice begins to rot. A top strategy for locating fish is to identify weed beds and structure that is located between wintering holes and massive basin areas where many fish winter and shallow bays that typically see spawning activity. ... more

January 2011


The Art of Drilling Holes
by Jason Mitchell
When you look at some of the best ice anglers, there often is some strategy in how and where they drill holes. Ice anglers might not be able to drift or troll but they can drill holes in a pattern and discipline themselves to fish the holes in a set time to cover water. There is a method behind the madness and successful anglers often have a strategy behind the drilling. Just drilling a bunch o... more

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