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Ever meet Tom Means?

Rapala Tail Dancer

OUTDOORS NIAGARA EDITORS NOTE: This is a story about 41 year old Tom Means, raised in the Town of Tonawanda N.Y., he moved to Corydon Township in Pennsylvania in 1989, just a mile from the Willow Bay boat ramp [on Kinzua Reservoir] The story was written by Will Elliott of the Buffalo News on May 5 2007 and was found to be a pretty interesting interview and hoping the Outdoors Niagara viewers will find some new things to work on for catching 'eyes whether from Lake Erie or at their favorite vacation Lake.

"Patience and determination are valuable traits, but switching to the right tackle and the right place and time makes a big difference while in competition or just out fishing for a few good fillets.

"Lake Erie walleye anglers can enjoy a couple of extra fillets this season and year.

TOM MEANS CREDENTIALS: His tourney credentials are impressive for a 41-year-old. He ranks as the most successful walleye competitor in the area for the past five years. He has keyed on walleye since childhood, and he credits his success to fishing since a young age with his late father, Tony Means.

In Western Pennsylvania Anglers, Kinzua-Allegany Walleye Association (K-AWA) and other competitions to date, he has entered 40 tourneys, taking nine firsts, finishing in the top five in 25 and taking home money in 33.

He has qualified the past five years for the Cabelas National Team Championship and in 2006 took the K-AWA Team of the Year honors while fishing with Susan Wilcox.

Along with competing, he has also devoted much time to coordinating two walleye tourney circuits: New Easter Walleye Circuit (NEWC), with six events in three states; and Kinzua Outdoors (K-O), which has been running for five years, with a 100 percent payout to benefit handicapped children.

With blocks of hours taken up with organizing and competing in tourneys, he still finds time to just get out and catch walleyes.

EARLY SEASON TIPS: He offers some advice for earlyseason ’eye angling. “I like to start out in the shallows. At Kinzua, I’ll run jigs with crawlers or Twisters [whites or pinks] in 6-12 feet,” he said, explaining that the light colors work well on post-spawning walleye that hang out on shallow flats.

“Flats with gravel will warm up faster and give walleye a post-spawn recouping area,” he explained.

His tips apply to most popular inland walleye lakes such as Oneida, Honeoye, Chautauqua and Kinzua.

“You can find active fish any time of day at the start of the season, but boat pressure will move them deeper and walleye just coming off spawning will be on the move,” he noted of fishing during daylight hours.

He works jigs out to depths as great as 35 feet. After that, he switches to trolling gear, running Off Shore side planers and lead core lines.

“I’ll start at trolling speeds of 1.5- 1.8 mph over targeted spots,” he said. “If they’re not active, I’ll bump it up to find their speed. Reef Runners lures run well up to 2.5-2.7 mph, and after that I switch to Rapala’s new Tail Dancer for faster speeds.”

In general, Reef Runners trigger strikes while running straight or making turns; Tail Dancers, with a slim, tapered minnow body, shimmer just right when trolled fast.

Daytime trolling at the start of the season and during spring outings calls for movement. “The fish may go deeper (15-18 feet) but stay suspended while feeding. I use Lowrance sonar to pick up these varying depths,” Means said.

WARMER SUMMER WATERS: During the warm-weather months of the summer, walleye may move up 10 or more feet to hit a suspended rig, but Means suggests pinpointing trolling depths to no more than 3 feet over the strata walleye are holding during spring outings.

As dark approaches, he switches to floating Rapalas, mainly the J-9 size. On Lake Erie, walleye cruise the shallows from Barcelona to Buffalo, but the trick is to find shoreline shallows where they move in to bulk up on baitfish after their spawning cycle.

Means switches gear constantly to find the right terminal tackle, casting and trolling angles, motor or retrieval speeds, bottom structures, feeding depths and all other variables that result in bigger and better walleye catches.

Remember: Patience and determination are valuable traits, but switching to the right tackle and the right place and time makes a big difference while in competition or just out fishing for a few good fillets.

The regulations, previously set at four daily from Erie waters, has been returned to the statewide limit of five ’eye effective Oct. 1, 2006.

With that abundant crop of 2003- year class walleye seen everywhere in Lake Erie, the 2007 walleye season could be bountiful.

For more information about the two walleye circuits Means coordinates, go to:  and

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