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Walleye Fishing with Johnnie Candle

Johnnie Candle from Devils Lake, North Dakota, a member of the Mossy Oak Fishing Team, was born into walleye fishing. 

“My granddad was a walleye fishing fanatic, and my father was a Lake Erie charter boat captain,” Candle said. “So, walleye fishing always has been in my bloodline.” 

Candle is also a tournament walleye fisherman and currently fishes the National Walleye Tour. Before he started fishing this tour, he fished the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), and the Professional Walleye Trail. He's won six walleye tournaments. In 2010, he won the World Walleye Championship and $50,000. His biggest walleye ever weighed 12-3/4 pounds and was caught in Tobin Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada. 

Johnnie Candle walleye awards

I've learned in tournament fishing that one of the deadly sins of is having a favorite technique, tactic or lure, because we have to use different walleye lures and various strategies on each lake we compete on just like bass fishermen do. But for fun, fishing for walleye, I love to cast small jigs with plastic tails or grubs and fish shallow when the walleye move up on the rocks in the springtime. 

Right now, my favorite jighead is the VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig Head. If I'm fishing shallow, I like the 1/8-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig Head. Some of the plastic tails I put on my jigs include Berkley PowerBait minnow. I also use an AuthentX Moxi minnow from B Fishn’ Tackle. The walleye seem to prefer the 3-inch size. I like a white-colored tail, and I've learned that white works well in all walleye waters. Often I’ll contrast that white-colored tail with either a solid chartreuse head or a chartreuse and orange head on my jig. 

Walleye don’t school-up like bass do. They definitely feed in groups like a wolf pack, but I'm not absolutely certain that they feed as a team. When you find walleye, you'll usually catch more than one in that same location. In most states, you can keep five walleye per person, but you'll need to check with the Fisheries Section in each state and each lake that you fish. 

In most walleye tournaments, you only can weigh in five walleye. The best bag of walleye I've ever weighed in was 50.54 pounds - a little over 10 pounds per fish - that I caught in a Lake Erie tournament in 1995. The Lake Erie walleye are somewhat different from walleye in other places. They tend to suspend and feed on giant schools of baitfish.

I was actually trolling in that tournament, which is legal in some areas, and fishing very shallow diving crankbaits over deep water. I was fishing in 25 feet of water, and my crankbait was running 5-6 feet deep. I was using a shallow-running Reef Runner lure. When the walleye are suspended like that, they're moving with big schools of baitfish, so we had to continue to troll at about 1-1/2 to 2 mph, making circles and figure eights to try to stay in contact with the schools of baitfish and the walleye. The two colors that worked well during that tournament were Texas red and mud minnow. During that tournament, the water was fairly off-color, and of course, the Great Lakes are always windy. I used darker-colored crankbaits, so the walleye could see them better than the lighter-colored crankbaits.

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