Bottom Bouncer Rigging
Bottom Bouncer Live Bait Rigging is a great tactic to use when walleyes are relating tight to deep structure and are considered to be in a neutral or negative feeding mood.
The weight of bouncer you choose will depend on the depth you're marking fish at, but a typical range would be 1.5 to 2.5 ounces. A six-foot snell tipped with a crawler or leech will trigger bites, but large minnows often are more productive especially on western reservoirs. This is a slow and methodical technique for targeting walleyes that are tight to specific structural elements such as deep breaks, cups and points. This is not a search technique, but rather a tactic used once you've located a tight concentration of fish on deep structure.
Use your electronics to scan likely points, cups and deep structure. Working from the bow and using the bowmount trolling motor to position the boat, lower the bottom bouncer rig when you locate fish, making sure you let out just enough line so that the bouncer's leg just touches bottom.
As you slowly work the immediate area, make sure you're keeping the bouncer as vertical as possible. This will give you much better control and help allow you to feel even light bites. Often, when using large minnows, particularly large Creek Chubs, you'll be able to feel the bait get very active when a predator walleye is close. The bite may feel like nothing more than the rig getting heavy, or you may feel a "tug". At that point, drop the rod tip slowly toward the fish, giving it time to take the bait and turn its head. When you feel the fish has the bait and the line is tight, set the hook with an upward sweeping motion and fight the fish in.
Make no mistake, this is a finesse technique, demanding precise boat control and a sensitive touch. A good quality set-up for bottom bouncer rigging would include a 6'6" to 7' medium action baitcast rod and reel combo spooled with 10 pound test Berkley FireLine tied to a bouncer rigged with a 6 foot leader of 8 pound test Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon and a super sharp live bait hook. The rod coupled with the no-stretch FireLine give you excellent feel of what’s going on below, and the Vanish Fluorocarbon makes the leader virtually invisible to the fish.
It's a deadly technique for those situations where walleyes are tough to catch by most any other method.