Joe Landolfi has more experience vertical jigging walleyes than I do, so when he told me the action begins in September, not mid-October when the lake is just about, not quite, turned over throughout its depths, I listened. And I was very surprised that we marked fish at 33 feet today. All week it's been in the 80's, surface water temperature was as high as 66, but it was relatively cool at the end of August and much of September, at least some of the month. I suppose, however, that so much rain has to do with it. Laurie Murphy at Dow's Boat Rentals said the same after we came and discussed it.
After an hour of fishing my graph recorder went on the blink. Joe got it back up for a short while. We tried again and gave up on it; it was useless, some electrical disconnection. But in no time at all he didn't miss the device. Wind kicked pretty hard, so we snapped on 2 1/2-ounce striper bucktails and confidently judged depth, as well as kept a tight, vertical line with a fast drift.
Instead of worsening, wind softened. I jigged up a perch from 20 foot depths just east of Sharps Rock, having changed back to a half-ounce Gotcha jigger. But the real action came west of Raccoon Island, in the area of the ledge. First Joe jigged up a pickerel from 15 foot depths, then I missed a hit, and finally he caught a three-pound, five-ounce walleye, straight from the drop in about what clearly seemed 15 feet of water.
It had been a dark day, threatening and chilly, great walleye weather, and at the end of our last drift, at Nolan's Point, rain began to fall! Laurie assured us it's early yet for jigging. The Fisherman is still reporting catches after dark on live herring. But even for one walleye in the middle of day, I hand it to Joe, or photographed him anyhow, who's been catching them with his friends from September on for years.