Just when youthink there’s nothing new in walleye fishing, along comes Mike Kulm. Theaccomplished walleye tournament angler from Rapid City, S. Dak., fishes fortailwater walleyes in the fall and winter with a shallow-running minnowbaitsuch as the original Rapala or a Smithwick Rogue. What’s unusual is that Kulmdoesn’t fish the lure anywhere near the surface. Instead, he attaches it to abottom bouncer with a 5-foot length of 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene XTmonofilament and sends it deep along current seams where faster and slowerwaters meet. The walleyes love it.
To fish theminnowbait-and-bottom-bouncer tandem, Kulm slowly pulls the rig upstream withhis boat or drifts the lure and weight downstream with the current. Both trickscan be used in the same place but they’re different in terms of application.Kulm uses only one rod at a time, holding it constantly. The rod must besensitive enough to feel the weight ticking the bottom, as well as walleyestrikes.
The strength ofthe river current dictates the weight of the bottom bouncer, which also variesin size depending on whether the angler is heading upstream or driftingdownstream. In heavy current, Kulm might start with a 4-ounce bottom bouncer.The goal is to allow the line to pull back at an ideal 45-degree angle whilethe bouncer barely touches the bottom. If the current is slower or faster, Kulmswitches to a lighter or heavier bouncer to achieve and maintain the 45-degreeangle.
When Kulm has goneup the seam as far as possible, he grabs a second rod sporting a lighter3-ounce bottom bouncer and drifts downstream.
To prevent thecurrent from washing the rig ahead of the boat, Kulm backs downstream as thebouncer sinks to the bottom. After the rig touches down and the boat ispositioned directly over it, Kulm uses his outboard to drift with the currentwhile maintaining the proper angle and constant bottom contact.
Kick the outboard motor into and out of gear to adjustthe drift and keep the bottom bouncer and the lure down.
When the current is really boiling below a dam, theseam between faster and calmer water is usually easy to spot. Look for the areawhere surface agitation and foam from the current play out. Such areas areprime feeding stations for walleyes.
Kulm favors a 7½- or 8-foot graphite trolling rodfitted with a Quantum bait-casting reel filled with 14-pound-test Fireline.”Fireline slices through the water better than anything else I’ve tried,” saysKulm.
WHEN TO TRY IT
Kulm’s deep minnowbait trick for tailwaters works fromlate fall through early spring. He also says that walleyes nab his minnow lureseven better after dark, especially in clear water.