Korey Sprengel’s win at the Cabela’s National Walleye Tournament Championship at Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on September 20 netted him a new Ranger 621FS boat and all the trimmings, including the envy; admiration and good-natured ribbing that accompany a come-from-behind win over veteran anglers.
It also earned him a few days of fun fishing for Green Bay’s fabled walleye and smallmouth bass, and I was happy to join him.
Though Sprengel admits a fondness for traditional spinner and crawler harness trolling, much of his recent success has hinged on aggressive presentations with artificial lures commonly found on the front decks of bass anglers. In fact, during his practice fishing on Winnebago, Sprengel caught more largemouth bass than walleyes on the jig and Powerbait Rib Worm combination that helped him to his tournament win.
I learned that jig-and-worm combos aren’t the only common tools of bass and walleye anglers these days. As we eased up on a long mid-lake hump on Green Bay, Sprengel pulled out a Fenwick Aetos spinning rod rigged with a blade bait, a Johnson ThinFisher, a lure that he calls one of his “go-to” options when casting for walleye on deep structure.
Now blade baits are deadly on cold clear waters like the Great Lakes and deep clear Ozark reservoirs, and I can usually count on some of the hottest smallmouth fishing of the year fishing them in mid to late fall. But while I’m generally looking for water temps on the downside of 55 degrees to signal “blade time,” Korey claims that he wields blades for walleye right through the summer season.
Who was I to argue?
Despite our 59-degree lake temperatures, out came one of my two “hot metal” boxes—the one filled with Nories Jaka Blades, Sebile Vibratos, and two relatively compact blade baits, the Ecogear VX and, yes, Sprengel’s favorite, the Johnson ThinFisher.
The latter two baits are ideal for spinning tackle, which is what we used to hurl our prized metal to the hump.
My second cast with the Ecogear VX drew a solid thump, and we were soon sliding fat walleye into the net.
With evening temperatures now hitting the low 40s and even upper 30s, prime-time bladin’ will be upon us soon.
Get ready for the metal celebration! Gold walleye and bronze bass are already feeling those hot metal vibes!