Valentine’s gift: Teaching anglers to catch walleye

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Hey Mr. Fisherman, if you think simply turning an electronic depth finder on is all there is to it, think again.

That’s exactly what several anglers attending Lance Valentine’s Walleye 101 fishing seminar learned recently when Valentine brought his popular walleye fishing school to Ravenna Marine. And schooling walleye guys is what Valentine does.

According to one fisherman who had attended the school a year ago and returned for another go at it this year, the information is so in depth that a person can’t retain it all the first time.

“That’s not unusual at all,” Valentine said, adding that he often greets the same fishermen more than once. Valentine’s mission, it seems, is to make good walleye fishermen better.

A full time fishing guide and instructor, Valentine created the Walleye 101 concept in 1998, and the program has been so well received that he is in demand full time. That is, full time when he’s not on the water guiding and teaching clients who keep him booked nearly daily in the spring and summer months.

Valentine guides on the Detroit River, Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie. His 101 classes are offered in several states at various off-season times.

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Valentine’s reputation as a teacher and ace fisherman has grown so large he now has four additional guides to help him meet demand. Not just any guides with a boat, but “Walleye 101 approved” professionals who, according to Valentine, can preach the 101 sermon as well as he can.

“My life has become all about watching others get better at walleye fishing,” Valentine said, and for sure, he has taken that philosophy to a new level, admitting that when he or other “Walleye 101 approved” guides have clients on the water, the teaching and learning never stops.

“If we are sure that one technique and skill set is learned we will switch to another technique so that our anglers can learn more and make better decisions,” he said.

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Walleye 101 is taught in several segments, the first concentrating on electronics. He baits students in his opening monologue by stating the most obvious of truths.

He starts by declaring the average fisherman spends most of his time fishing where there are no catchable fish, and if more time were spent locating catchable fish, more fish would be caught.

And in the next couple hours he firmly hooks each and every student with a carefully practiced and refined set of lessons on finding the fish through the window of electronics, the tool we all have but fail to use properly.

Key element

Valentine makes it perfectly clear that it all starts with the correct placement of the transducer, the sending and receiving gadget mounted most often on the transom of a fishing boat.

“If it isn’t in the right place it won’t read correctly. You should to be able to search for catchable fish while running at full speed,” he announced, adding that the smallest of adjustments can make a huge difference.

Then he explains how easy it is to see the underwater world clearly through electronics — if the sonar unit is correctly tuned. With the correct settings, a color sonar unit will show it all, even the kind of fish below, according to Valentine.

He even suggested that graduates of Walleye 101 are encouraged to spend one day one the lake without rod and reel aboard. He said if anglers would invest a whole day learning how to get the most from their electronics, they would catch more fish from then on.

“You can’t do this if you have tackle on board, because you’ll want to start fishing instead of continuing to learn,” he predicted.

(Readers may contact this writer at mtontimonia@att.net.)

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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