Chad Maloy / Special to The Forum, Published July 30 2013
Pro anglers to get test at upcoming tournamentDEVILS LAKE, N.D. – The Masters Walleye Circuit will be making a return visit to Devils Lake on Friday and through Sunday. But the professional anglers will be tossed a curveball with a change in the rules.
In a departure from walleye tournament norms, no natural, live or prepared baits – including minnows, leeches or night crawlers – will be allowed for the tournament. Only man-made baits will be allowed – including soft plastics, Berkley Gulp-type products, crank baits, spinners and other artificial presentations.
The big question is: How will anglers adapt to conquer Devils Lake?
“A large, lively leech dangling under a slip bobber has been the bread and butter for those tying up in the flooded timber,” pro angler Don Denning said, referring to Devils Lake. “The artificial-only rule won’t totally eliminate the bobber bite, but it will make it more challenging. If we are able to get a little ripple on the lake, slip bobbers can still be a factor.”
Anglers will need to look hard for those baits that are soft and supple. Tails need to be able to twitch with just a slight movement from the main line and bobber. Some of the baits that will be used include the new Berkley Power Bait Twitchtail Minnow, Gulp Leeches, Northland Tackle’s Impulse Jiggn Leech and Jig Crawler.
Other popular live bait tactics will have to be adjusted as well. Anglers in recent years have been putting more focus on the Dakota tactic of bottom bouncing on Devils Lake with a spinner and crawler.
Focusing on medium to deep weed edges, a favorite choice of bottom bouncer last year was the Northland Slick Stick. Made from a virtually snag-free 12-inch stainless rod, it transmits signals from the bottom very well when rigged with a super line like 14-pound Berkley Fireline or 15-pound Northland Bionic Braid.
Bottom bouncers allow for many different presentations such as pulling a spinner crawler harness rigged up with the new Berkley Gulp Alive Spinner Crawler or a Northland Impulse Night Crawler. Slow death will be another popular presentation pulled behind bouncers. Slow death hooks provide a spin that drives walleyes crazy when rigged up with shorter Berkley Gulp baits like the 2-inch Pinched Crawler, 3-inch Killer Crawler and 4-inch Crawler.
Casting swim baits such as the Northland Tackle Mimic Minnow are perennial shallow water producers. Denning says, “Pitching a Mimic Minnow up into shallow water has to be my most favorite tactic on Devils Lake.”
To round things out, anglers will be using lots of crank baits. Trolling Berkley Flicker Shads with leadcore over sunken road beds or trolling them with Fireline over shallower drop offs using Off Shore boards to get the baits away from the boat.