50% of all walleye catches are in the spring. Biological surveys and experienced walleye fishers confirm this. Why is this so? For the answer to this and more walleye fishing tips, read on.
Walleye Fishing 101 : Walley Fishing Tips
I have been fishing walleye for 25 years. Through the years, I have learned a few tricks. Today, I share with you some of my time-tested walleye fishing techniques.
Success of a walleye fishing trip boils down to three things;
Choices for the three are affected by seasons. My walleye fishing tips and tricks take this into account. I give advise on all three across the seasons.
A Brief Overview About Walley
Walleye is a species of fish that is native to the northern United States and Canada. They live in freshwater and are hatched in the late spring. Walleye are pretty solitary fish, usually found resting close to the bottom of the water searching for prey or resting. They are very easy to identify from their olive and gold colors. Walleye fishing is usually done with a variety of jigs, lures, and jig techniques.
What Is The Best Way To Catch Walleye?
Allow me, first, to clarify something. This question is incomplete. Seasons are crucial to walleye fishing. A full query should, therefore, include a season.
What I mean is this. A question on walleye fishing should also refer to the season of the fishing.
Our question should read, "What is the best way to catch walleye during the XXX season."
Like the question, a complete answer should be season specific. Lucky you! You will only get complete answers from me. I will advise you on how to fish for walleye across all seasons.
Before that, let us understand the seasons. Seasons affect habits of the walleye. The overall effect is the fisher’s different choices of bait, location, and technique.
Let us look deeper into the effects.
1. Best Bait and Lures For Walleye Across Seasons
The walleye have very dynamic feeding habits. The time of year advises their food preferences. The same should inform what to use to catch walleye.
- a. During The Spring: The fish eat minnows, red tail chubs (small ones), and fatheads.
- b. During The Summer: Preference is for leeches and the night crawlers.
- c. During The Fall: Preference is for red tail chubs (big ones), minnows and small suckers.
- d. During The Winter: The fish eat all red tail chubs (big and small), minnows, small suckers, and large shiners.
For bait, you have a choice between live bait and life-like jigs. Live bait should strictly follow the fishes' feeding habits. The best lure for walleye fishing should also do the same.
Simply put, the best walleye lures differ across the seasons. They must bear a close resemblance to the walleye's preferred prey. Keep this in mind when shopping for walleye bait. But some suggestions may include :-
- When it comes to the best lure for walleye fishing, the Cordell Wally Diver is definitely up there. It's one of the most legendary lures for a reason.
- Its red color attracts walleye, and this is a trustworthy walleye lure.
- Another great option is the 6.5-inch TriggerxNightcrawler. This lure is loaded up with pheromones that the walleyes love to feed on.
Let us start things with a good cliché. 'LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!' This overused statement holds the secret to walleye fishing. A good position translates to a good catch.
Walleye positioning changes as the seasons change. Various factors control the changes. We can site them as;
- Water Temperature: Walleye love the cooler waters.
- Sex Of The Walleye: Females, which are bigger, are found deeper in the water.
- Spawning: Walleye move to the best sites for their eggs when it is time for breeding.
Here is where and how to catch walleye across all seasons:
a. Where and How to Catch Walleye During Spring:
- 1. Water is cool, and, walleye are close to the shore. I recommend fishing 3- 11 feet from the coast; 3-9 feet from the surface.
- 2. For the bigger females, go deeper. 8-15 feet has always produced good results for me.
- 3. Spring is the spawning season. Walleye love the cover offered by floating objects when breeding. Look for floating tree barks or branches. Sandy areas are the best bets at this time of year.
Fishing for walleye in the spring means you will need to look close to the shoreline. Since walleyes spawn along the shore, they are usually near their beds by the time fishing season opens. If you try fishing in the middle of the lake, anything more than ten feet out, you likely won't be able to catch any walleye — at least not until the weather warms up. As the walleye will still be protecting their spawning beds when you are fishing in the spring, they will be more aggressive than during other times of the year. Be prepared to cast and retrieve quickly, and use jigs with vibrant colors that will aggravate the smaller, male walleyes who are defending their beds.
The best walleye lures in the spring are bright colors like:-red-chartreuse-white-or yellow You can find walleyes in the spring by trolling slowly along the shoreline, but be careful not to go back and forth too much or you will risk spooking the fish. Generally, you can find walleyes within two to four feet of water and they will be eager to protect their spawning beds, making them fairly easy to catch with the right tips and tricks in mind.
b. Where and How to Catch Walleye During Summer:
Due to high surface temperatures, walleye go deeper. They have a tendency to hide among the weeds. That is at about 18-36 feet deep.
At night, however, the fish will come to the shore to feed. It is the only time you can find big walleye close to shore in the summer. Now you know how to catch walleye from the shore. Fish at night!
For the best summer fishing experience, let me suggest four zones:
- River Mouths.
- Rocky Points.
- Gravel Shores.
How to troll for walleye in the summer is by dragging the lure within one foot off the bottom at all times, giving little jigs every so often to clear the lure of any mud or weeds. Keep in mind that in the morning, you can jig for longer as the fish are more aggressive, but they will get lazier as the day goes on and your jigging should be slow.
However, keep trolling slowly — walleye are on the hunt for their prey, and their prey will constantly be on the move.
I would recommend using a slow back-troll, which will get you the best results.
Walleye fishing lures in the summer should be natural-looking:-brown-silver-black-or white The fish will be more receptive to that than bright, flashing colors. Without a spawning bed to protect, summer walleye are more relaxed and less aggressive than they were earlier in the season.
c. Where and How to Catch Walleye During Fall:
Fall is one of the worst times to fish! Walleye are, seemingly, invincible. Due to the cooling waters, the fish move into deeper waters. They are also to be found farther from shore.
For fishing depths in the fall, I suggest 10-30 feet deep. Do your fishing far from the shores. I have found the middle of rivers and lakes to be convenient.
The cooling waters also play another role. They result in the death of weeds. Walleye, therefore, miss their favorite hiding places. The decay of the plants also releases gasses that the fish can't stand.
They move away from the weed beds towards the fresher water. Because of this, I suggest the following areas when fishing:
- At the edges of weed beds.
- In the open waters.
d. Where and How to Catch Walleye During Winter
Walleye will be found where they were during the fall. This relative immobilization is as a result of the lowering temperatures of the fall-winter transition.
Low temperatures affect fishes. Their metabolism lowers. Movement is, therefore, minimal.
This reduction in activity reduces chances of walleye biting. You are least likely to catch walleye in the winter.
I do not imply it is impossible. You can grab a few here and there.
It will, however, not be as easy as during the other times of the year.
e. How to Fish for Walleye in Lakes
- Keep the season and time of day in mind - fall time or summer days are the best time to go out in the lake. If it's night time or spring, it's best to stay close to shore
- Make sure you have depth-tracking on your tracker
- Fish for walleye when the atmospheric pressure is highest
- Plan for your trip — make sure you have the proper jig setup, lures, and tracking systems for a lake trip.
- If possible, use live bait.
- If you're getting zero success out on the lake, it may be a good idea to come back to shore and try there, even if it's a time when walleye don't usually hang out there.
f. How to Catch Walleye from Shore at Night
- When you're catching walleye from the dock or shore, it's best to do it at night
- When it comes to how to jig for walleye at night, use a light jig (1/8-oz) and cast along the shore, retrieving it rather aggressively
- Bright colors work best for this like chartreuse, red, yellow, or white.
g. How to catch walleye from a dock
Catching walleye from the dock can be done by looking for spots where minnows might be feeding and start from there, but you can also follow some of the other tips and tricks to catch walleye discussed in this article to see what works best.
If you want to know how to catch walleye from the shore, it's easiest in the early spring or in the late summer — but keep in mind that the fish you will catch in the spring will likely be smaller males, and in the late summer, you'll be bringing in larger females.
The method should of fishing vary with season. It should match the behavior of the fish at the time of the fishery.
The most important aspect of the technique is manipulation of the bait. You need to move the bait accordingly across all seasons.
You can do things slowly or speed them up. Adjust this depending on the walleye's overall activity.
How do I mean? Read On. I will show you what I mean.
a. Spring Walleye Fishing Tips/ Early Summer Walleye Fishing Tips.
Spring and early summer have very similar, high, temperatures. During the spring, and much of the summer, therefore, walleye are very active. They are active enough to chase attractive bait. You use quick manipulations of the bait.
The increased reactivity is due to the warmer water temperatures.
b. Late Summer Walleye Fishing Tips/ Fall Walleye Fishing Tips/ Winter Fishing Tips.
Due to cold waters, walleye are very inactive. Retrievals of the bait should be slow. The reason is that walleye will not chase down even the most attractive jigs.
When the fish move into the deeper waters, trolling may be necessary.
We have seen that the entirety of the walleye fishing tackle is dynamic. We have answered the question as to why it is so. Let us now unite the best tips for each season.
******In A Nutshell!******
I promised a full 'how-to' didn't I? Here it goes.
The Most Successful Walleye Fishing Tips For All Seasons in a Summary
1. How To Catch Walleye During The Spring - Proven Tips
- i. Choice Of Bait: Walleye see red and green colors. These colors should be the most prominent in your lures. If you prefer live bait to lures, go with minnows, red tail chubs (small ones), and fatheads.
- Integration of both live bait and lures is, however, much more advisable. Lures are easier to manipulate; live bait adds scent to the scenario. WALLEYE CAN SMELL.
- ii. Choice O f Location: Cast your lines 3-9 feet from the surface and 3-11 feet from the shore. The line should be taut to enable you to feel everything as it falls. When a walleye bites, yank the line back firmly to hook it.
The best bets for location are:
- Sandy Areas.
- Around floating branches.
- iii. Technique: Bait manipulation should be quick. The walleye are very active and up for a challenge. Jig rigorously.
Catching walleye from the docks is also easiest during the nights of spring. Only remember to cast very shallow and jig rather rapidly.
2. How To Fish For Walleye During The Summer Proven Tips
- i. Choice Of Bait: Minnows, red tail chubs (small ones), and fatheads are best for summer. If possible, make a hybrid of live bait and lure. The interesting thing with walleye is that they have thousands of taste buds on their lips.
You want them to feel prey when their lips touch the bait. Live bait brings this taste into the equation. Walleye will at times let go of bait when they do not taste prey on it.
- ii. Choice Of Location: Cast your lines at depths of about 18-36 feet. The fish go deeper during summers due to high surface temperatures.They, however, still come to the surface at night to feed. Casting shallow is always the best tip on how to catch walleye from shore at night.
For daytime fishing, try these four zones:
- River Mouths
- Rocky Points.
- Gravel Shores.
- iii. Technique: The fish are still very active. I advise you make your retrievals as quick as, or slightly faster than, what worked for spring.
3. Proven Walleye Fishing Tips And Tricks For The Fall
The fall sees the walleye move into the open deeper waters. Trolling is very necessary at this time.
- i. Choice Of Bait: Preference should be for red tail chubs (big ones), minnows and small suckers. Combine the live bait with jigs for the best walleye bait.
- ii. Choice Of Location: Cast your lines to depths of about 10-30 feet. The best locations are;
- At the edges of weed beds.
- In the open waters.
- iii. Technique: I advise trolling for the hiding fish.How to troll for walleye is a concept informed by many factors. Chief among them are:
• The Waters: If the waters are unfamiliar, move your rig slowly across the waters. Concentrate on the regions you get the most bites. That is also the best approach when it comes to how to fish for walleye in lakes.
• The Season: Trolling speed should be reflective of the season. Faster speeds when fish are most active; slower speeds when fish are least active.
For fishing depth, 10-30 feet works best. I also recommend the three locations;
• At the edges of weed beds
• In the open waters
During the fall, troll very slowly. The fish are not as active as during summer. Downsizing is chief among all walleye fishing rig techniques I can give. I have noticed that monster rigs spook the walleye into hiding.
I have covered almost half a lake without a single bite. All the while, guys around me in smaller rigs were reeling in 25-inchers! So I say this from experience.
Downsize on the rig!
4. Proven Walleye Fishing Techniques For The Winter.
- i. Choice Of Bait: The trick is to keep live bait lively. Winters are not good times even for bait fish. Actively wriggling bait is more attractive to walleye.
- ii. Choice Of Location: Walleye will be in the spots they were during the fall. I, therefore, encourage the open waters. Especially on mild winters.
- iii. Technique: Winters see walleye very inactive. Bait manipulation should be very slow. In the case of frozen lakes, cut the ice above the edges of weed beds. Walleye love it there.
Now winter will give you very few bites. Do not take this to mean zero bites. You just have to be more patient with the fish during this time.
So, to top it all up, patience is the key to success in winter fishing. Lose it, and you lose the bite!