By Dan Johnson

Yesterday we touched on the topic of targeting pike and walleyes in flowing water, especially relatively shallow water on small river systems. Today I’d like to follow up with a pair of patterns perfect for taking walleyes and crappies from the depths of larger waterways.

Once again, ice safety is paramount when plying moving water. But with the right precautions, such as checking with local guides and bait shops, and following well-traveled ice roads, big rivers are a great place to enjoy hardwater adventures.

The big-river walleye pattern hinges on structural funnels such as the edge of a shipping channel. On the St. Louis River at Duluth Harbor, for example, fish houses often line up along key depths over the channel edge in 20 to 25 feet of water, which often produces reliable action this time of the winter.

I’ve fished the bite with local guide and Lindy friend Charlie Nelson. He favors a two-fisted approach for midwinter ’eyes, wielding a ¼-ounce Rattl’n Flyer Spoon in one hole and a minnow under a slip bobber in the other. Tipped with a minnow head, the Rattl’n Flyer generates flash, sound, smell and vibration, attracting nearby walleyes to the area. Fish that don’t strike the spoon often inhale the minnow rig.

Another border water separating Minnesota and Wisconsin—the lower St. Croix River—also hosts a deep-water bite most winters and provides an example of what to look for on iced over waters near you. Slab crappies often school in deep water in slack-water areas of the main river. Sometimes structure such as deep sand bars and points attract fish, but often you have to search for the fish.

Once atop a pod of crappies, 1/8-ounce jigging spoons including the Rattl’n Flyer and Frostee Jigging Spoon tipped with a minnow head are top producers. Vary your jigstrokes from foot-high, lift-drop maneuvers to subtle shakes and mid-range pounding. Don’t be afraid to drop a Lindy Darter into the fray, either, as beefy river-run crappies aren’t shy about taking on a big meal.