Tips to help make you a better Walleye fisher:
* In late winter or early spring, walleyes in many lakes make spawning runs up major tributaries.
This occurs when the water rises into the lower reaches of the 40-degree range. Not all fish make
these runs, but enough of them do to make them worth targeting. They may migrate for miles or
just a few hundred yards, depending on the type of feeder stream they're ascending. Sometimes
rapids or dams will concentrate them on these runs, usually just slightly downstream from the
obstruction and in calmer water.
* Try bucktail or marabou jigs on these spring-run fish. White, yellow, chartreuse and pink are good
colors; the proper sizes can range from 1/8 to 1/2 ounce, depending on the current and depth.
Both plain jigs and those adorned with either a soft-plastic tail or a pork-rind strip are deadly. Cast
the offering out and across or slightly upstream, let it sink near the bottom and reel back slowly and
steadily with an occasional twitch or lift of the rod tip. If strikes are slow in coming, add half a night
crawler or a live minnow as enticement.
* One of the best ways to catch spawning-run walleyes is with a floating/diving thin minnow plug
rigged with extra weight. Tie the lure onto an 18-inch leader off of a three-way swivel with a few split
shot trailing on a short 6-inch dropper leader fastened to the third eyelet. Cast and retrieve this
offering slowly and steadily near or just off the bottom. If you hang up, you'll usually lose just the
split shot and not your
* Try a plain live minnow for spawning-run walleyes. Yes, jigs and plugs are fun to fish, but
sometimes - particularly in clear, cold water - a plain live minnow is the way to go. Hook a 2- to 4-
inch minnow through both lips from the bottom up on a size 1 to 4 hook and add a couple of split
shot a foot or so up the line. Cast across and slightly upstream and allow the bait to settle near the
bottom. When you think it's close to bottom or it actually touches, begin a slow, pumping retrieve.
Reel a turn or two, lift the rod and let it settle back down. Don't expect dramatic strikes, but rather
sudden extra weight on the line followed by a slow bucking as the walleye feels the hook and
comes to life.
* Crankbaits are great casting lures for walleyes in lakes and rivers, but you need to be aware of
the different actions available. Lures with subtle action include Rapala Husky Jerks, Smithwick
Rattlin' Rogues, Bombers and similar models. Moderate action types would include
brands such as the Excalibur Shad-R, Rapala Shad Rap and Rebel Shad-R. Even more extreme
are those with aggressive actions such as the Rapala Risto Rap or Excalibur Fat Free Shad series.
Stock a variety of these different actions and several brands of each; then, experiment with them
on any given day on the water. Watch for fish that follow your lure but don't strike. Or switch to a
different action when your combing of a prime piece of water doesn't get results.
* Normally, a slow, steady retrieve is best for casting crankbaits to walleyes. If that doesn't work,
though, try moderate and even fast retrieves. Also, experiment with the stop-and-go approach:
Reel a few turns on the handle and suddenly stop. Wait several seconds; reel again. This jerky
action is sometimes the key to a heavy catch.
* Don't ignore the shallows when fishing for walleyes. Fish up to 6 pounds or more can sometimes
be found in water just a few feet deep, sometimes 2 feet or less. This is particularly likely in the
spring as waters start to warm in backwater bays in lakes. Try areas with extended points,
weedbeds, sunken timber, rockpiles and reefs.
* If the shallows don't produce, head for deeper water. Look for primary and secondary points that
jut out into deep water and also humps, underwater islands, rock bars and dropoffs. Steep breaks
or sudden depth changes near a channel are hotspots for jumbo walleyes in summer and fall. Use
sonar to locate these prime holding spots.
* Trolling, where allowed, is a valuable tactic as well as a learning tool. Whether you're just getting
into walleye fishing or are checking out a new lake, trolling's a great way to teach yourself about
the water you're on and, while you're at it, to catch a few fish. This method puts your bait down
deep in the productive strike zone almost continuously, upping the odds of finding fish and drawing
a strike. Study a good topographic map and use a depthfinder as you troll to stay over good
structure and, ideally, baitfish or game fish as well. Work a contour line or troll in a lazy-S pattern
near the edge of points, reefs, dropoffs or rip currents, keeping the plug constantly wiggling
through the level at which you think you may find fish.Simply trolling a crankbait on a flat line will
take many a fish. Good choices include the Bomber Model A, Storm Wiggle Wart and Hot 'n' Tot,
Rapala Shad Rap, Rebel D.D. Shad, Lindy Deep Baitfish and Cordell Wally Diver.
* If walleyes are in shallow water and skittish, use a side-planer board to carry a crankbait, spoon
or jig 40 to 80 feet away from the noise and shadow of the boat. These planers also let you probe
a wider swath, with some lures running directly behind the boat on flat lines while
others are carried off to the side with the planers.
* For deep midsummer and early-fall walleyes, few techniques can top trolling with downriggers.
With these devices you can set your lure exactly at the depth you want it to run, depending on
where the structure, baitfish or game fish will be seen to show up on the sonar. Attach the lure 10
to 40 feet behind the cannonball if fish are aggressive; run them 50 to 100 feet behind the lead ball
if they're tentative and
At times walleyes are finicky biters and won't snap releases well. If this proves a problem, switch to
thin rubber bands. Simply half-hitch one end on the downrigger cable or a snap-swivel just up from
the ball and attach the other end to the line. Use fat-bodied plugs or, better yet, long thin-minnow
plugs such as Storm ThunderSticks, Bomber Long A's, Smithwick Rogues, Rapalas, Rebels,
Cordell Red Fins and Lindy Shadlings. Green, orange, blue and chartreuse are good colors.
* When fish are deeper than 15 feet, consider vertical-jigging. Position your boat directly over the
structure or a spot where you've pinpointed game fish or baitfish on the sonar. Lower a spoon or jig
to the depth that fish are holding, or slightly above that; then, begin
pumping the rod tip up and down anywhere from 6 to 24 inches. Be sure to lower the rod tip just
fast enough so that the lure falls freely, but no slack forms in the line. Strikes will often come on the
drop, and if too much slack gets in the line, you won't be able to detect the subtle hits or set the
hook quickly enough.
* A variety of lures will work well for vertical-jigging, but some of the best are jigs and spoons. If
strikes are slow in coming, try adding a pork-rind dressing, a soft-plastic curlytail or a live bait such
as a piece of a worm or live minnow.
* On spring and summer nights, walleyes often head to the shallows after sunset. Try wading,
fishing from the bank or using a small, quiet boat to cast for these skittish fish. A thin-minnow plug
from 4 to 6 inches in length is best, but shallow-diving crankbaits can also produce well. Cast and
retrieve these slowly and steadily over shallow points, reefs, humps, and the edges of islands. And
hang onto your rod! Some real brutes roam the thin water under cover of darkness.
* For daytime summer walleye fishing, key in on these favored types of structure: reefs, primary
and secondary points, humps, rock bars, flooded timber and depressions in the main lake. Also
pay attention to inlets and outlets where the current can attract baitfish and walleyes.
* Walleyes love weeds such as coontail, sand grass and cabbage. They can hide in the vegetation
and ambush minnows swimming nearby. Weedlines with a sharply-defined edge are the best of all.
Position your boat parallel to the break and cast your lure so it runs right next to the vegetation.
Fish will lie along this edge and lunge out to grab passing baitfish - or your offering.If the aquatic
weeds lie several feet below the surface, you can also cast shallow-running crankbaits or spoons
right over top and work them back so they run above the weeds, nicking the plants occasionally.
Fish will surge up out of the salad and smash your offering from below.
* Many factors figure into where you'll find walleyes. The presence of baitfish is certainly one of
them, but all things being equal, you'll do best over sandy, gravel or rock bottoms rather than
* Drift-fishing with a live-bait rig and slip-sinker is one of the most consistent ways of all for catching
walleyes. Tie a size 4 to 8 hook to a 24- to 60-inch 4- to 8-pound test leader, and then attach it to a
barrel swivel. Thread an egg or Lindy sinker on the main line from the rod with a bead above and
below it; then, attach it to the barrel swivel. Use a live minnow, crawfish, leech or night crawler.To
improve this rig, use a floating jighead for the bait instead of a plain hook. This keeps the offering
up off the bottom so that it's less likely
to hang up and is more visible to the quarry. The extra color and bulk of the jig also adds to the
attractiveness of the live bait offering. Another way to suspend night crawlers off the bottom is to
use a worm blower (syringe) to inject air into the bait.Be sure to adjust the size of the weight
according to the speed you're drifting at and the depth of the water. You want the bait to stay on or
just above the bottom. One-eighth to 1-ounce sizes are typically best. When a fish grabs the
offering, feed line for several seconds and set the hook. Try sunken islands, reefs, bars, points,
weedbed edges and sharp river channel dropoffs for this productive fishing method.
* Maintain precise boat control when drift-fishing. If you drift too fast, your bait will lift off the bottom.
Even if you use enough weight to keep it there, it may be moving too fast to appeal to finicky
walleyes. A speed of about 5 to 10 mph is about right for a good drift.
If winds are too strong, use an electric motor to slow the drift. Back-trolling may be required. This
means running your motor with the boat pointed backward, the idea being to slow your progress
and allow more precise boat control. Walleyes generally want the bait just barely moving past them,
and this offers the perfect way to present it in that slow, tempting manner.
* Try slip-bobber rigs when walleyes are positioned near or on a reef, point, gravel bar or other
structure but are proving finicky about taking a bottom rig. This setup consists of bobber, hook and
split shot. The only difference between this rig and a basic float rig is that a bobber stop is tied or
slipped on the line and adjusted to block the free-moving float when it slides up to the appropriate
position for the depth you want to fish. When walleyes are deeper than 5 or 6 feet, this is the only
efficient way to cast and use a float. Try leeches, night crawlers and minnows. They all work great
with slip-bobber riggings.
* Choose your bait according to the season. Minnows are productive at any time of year. In
summer, go with night crawlers or leeches. In fall, minnows, especially large ones, are the best
choice for attracting and catching hungry walleyes.
* Color can sometimes be important in lure choice - and sometimes it's insignificant. To cover your
bets, be sure to stock your favorite lures in a variety of hues. Always carry a few lures in bright
fluorescent colors. Those are particularly good in murky water.
* Don't shun windy days for walleye fishing. Wind helps to move your boat along if you want to try
drift-fishing. It also oxygenates the water and pushes baitfish schools into tight groups, enabling the
predatory walleyes to ambush them. Look for walleyes actually feeding out on
windswept points, bars and reefs, and on the windward side of the lake.
* Trolling speed is critical when going after walleyes. At times these fish will nail a fast-moving bait,
but they usually want it creeping along. Add a trolling plate to your motor, drag a bucket from a
rope, or turn the boat backwards and run the motor in reverse to present your lure slowly enough if
* A good rod for jig-fishing walleyes should be about 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet long and stiff in action. You
want some flexibility in the tip, so you won't throw off the bait that's often used to tip the jig, but
plenty of backbone in the rest of the rod for setting the hook. Medium or medium-heavy-action rods
are best for this fishing.
* Keep a marker buoy handy when drift-fishing or trolling for walleyes. Chances are good that more
fish are holding where you hooked that last one. Drop the buoy over immediately when you get a
strike; then you can drift or troll through that same area again.
Jigging up late season walleyes
by Ron Anlauf
One of the most endearing aspects of late season walleye angling is its simplicity. In this
complicatedfast paced world we’re living in it’s nice to get back to the basics. Successful fall fishing
requires aminimal amount of gear and thought. With a handful of jigs, a few minnows, and a good
depth finderyou’re in business. Before fall gives way to the onslaught of winter anglers have the
opportunity to cash inon some fantastic fishing.
The ravages of the fall turnover can turn a walleyes world upside down and make for some awful
tough fishing conditions. Even shallow lakes that don’t "officially" turnover still go through a cooling
off process and it can take a little time for a fish’s body to adjust to the new, colder water temps.
But soon after things start to settle down, and walleye anglers can expect to see definite
improvements in walleye activity.
After the fall adjustment walleyes go on a feeding binge that can last right through the early season
ice fishing season. One of the shortcuts to finding fall walleyes is knowing where they are
historically caught through the ice. Instead of waiting for hard water; open water anglers can beat
the ice brigade to the punch and cash in on peak fishing conditions. Early season ice action can
center on drop offs, deeper hard bottom areas, weed edges, as well as transition lines where hard
bottom meets soft. Those are the very same spots where late fall walleye anglers should begin
Fish that are holding on or near any of the aforementioned spots can be readily scanned with good
electronics like the Humminbird 997c. The 997c is a color graph with side scanning capabilities that
can allow you to run a break or dropoff and quickly see if and where any fish are trying to hide out.
Because late fall ’eyes are easily marked they can be relatively easy to find. Instead of wasting a lot
of time fishing where they’re not, anglers should key on classic spots that are definitely holding fish.
A good plan of action incluides slowly cruise over the best looking spots, and keep going until you
Late fall walleyes tend to bunch up and if you’re making one here and one there you’d probably do
better by keeping on the move until you’ve marked at least a few fish holding close together. Once
you’ve located a potential hangout you may elect to drop a marker to help keep your bearings. It’s
easy to get a little confused, especially if your concentrating on your electronics. If you’re worried
about other anglers moving in on your marker, try dropping a black one. They’re almost impossible
to see, unless you get real close.
One of the most consistent producers come late fall is vertical jigging. Working a jig and minnow
straight up and down is a slow methodical method that allows an angler to really work over an area.
The technique is simply a lift and drop of a jig, and you can actually walk the bait along the bottom.
Although they may be active; late fall walleyes are not usually aggressive enough to chase down a
fast moving bait.
The lift and drop of a jig tipped with a minnow can be just the ticket for triggering cold water ’eyes.
Medium sized minnows like fatheads, rainbow chubs, or shiners are perfect for tipping a jig. All will
do the job but the shiner has the edge when faced with dark water conditions. The extra flash a
shiner can provide seems to get more attention from deeper, dark water walleyes.
Round headed jigs like a Northland Fireball in sizes _ to 3/8oz are the way to go. To tip the jig run
the hook through the mouth and out the top of the minnow as far behind the head as you can. This
method will help hold the minnow in place, especially when it’s exposed to the rigors of vertical
jigging. A little twist on vertical jigging includes replacing the jig with a Buckshot Rattle Spoon, the
very same bait you would use for ice fishing. Instead of the rhythmic lift and drop, the Buckshot
requires more of a snapping motion to be effective.
If you can legally fish with another line you may want to deploy a live bait rig on a "dead rod". A
dead rod is nothing more than a rod rigged up and in the water but resting in a holder, instead of
It’s difficult to concentrate on more than one jigging rod, and the dead rod let’s you effectively fish
two baits at the same time. Longer softer action rods in the seven to eight foot range are
recommended, like St. Croix’s Legend Series 7’6" spinning rod model TWS76MLF. In most cases
you’ll know when the dead rod has been hit when it doubles over. Instead of letting a fish run you’re
usually better off setting the hook immediately. The long rod can buy you some valuable time, time
that may allow a fish to fully engulf the bait before it feels an unnatural resistance and rejects it. All
of the aforementioned minnows can be effective when used with a live bait rig but if they’re
available you can’t beat a red tail chub. Red tails elicit viscous strikes from every species of top of
the line predators. I don’t know if it’s love or hate, but whatever the reason they really hit red tails
hard. They will also let you know if there’s a predator close by. When you’re in the presence of
hungry ’eyes red tails really start pumping, trying to swim to safety.
You can see the action in the tip of your rod. If the rod tip starts throbbing; hang on. If you don’t get
hit you may want to spend a little more time working the area over.
Look for late fall walleye fishing to become more and more consistent the closer you get to ice-up.
Some of my best days have occurred when the lake I was fishing had a thin layer of ice starting to
develop in the shallower bays. Another attractive aspect of late season angling is the fact that you
can have an entire lake to yourself, and that’s as good as it gets.
Copyright© 2006 BobberStop.com
|"Even eminent chartered
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and ten inches, half a pound and
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dozen fish." William Sherwood Fox