An angler can have all of the pieces of the fish catching puzzle put on the table, but if they are missing just one, the puzzle will not be complete. In the case of many walleye trolling trips, my puzzle was not completed until the trips were almost over because I failed to trust my electronics. Even though the following trip is from the summer months, the importance of temperature gradients plays a key role in almost all angling situations throughout the year!
When fishing, anglers are presented with a variety of different situations and problems that they need to figure out in order to catch fish. In the case of a recent walleye outing, I was presented with the issue of water temperature variations of more than 10 degrees at different depths. We began the evening fishing 25-30 feet of water fishing roughly 15 feet down and immediately caught a walleye. We thought that we had the puzzle figured out, but we went the next 2 hours without a bite. We decided to head into deeper water in order to try and locate more fish. When we arrived in the 70-80 foot water depth, we noticed a blur on the fish finder that was about 35 feet below the surface. We set out our lines, and ran Dipsy Divers at 65 feet down, and then clean diving crankbaits at 25 feet down. To our surprise, we hooked up on a fish on one of the clean diving cranks 25 feet under the surface. The blur on the screen turned out to be a temperature gradient from the colder 59-61 degree bottom water and the warmer 68-70 degree surface temperature. The baitfish and the walleye were stacked right on the blurred line on the fish finder. We brought all of our rods in, and ran our program at 25-35 feet down depending on where we saw the fish and the temperature blur. We ended up finishing the night strong and landed a large amount of fish.
The overall takeaway from this night for me was that the temperature of the water can mean a world of difference in just about any fishing situation. Anglers should learn to trust their graphs and what they are telling them because even though it seemed strange that there were fish suspended in 25-35 feet of water over 70-80 feet of water, there were large numbers of fish holding on the temperature gradient, ready to strike!