Fishing for Walleye Tips
Knowing how to catch walleye means understanding their behavior in a variety of different settings and situations. Of course, this fishing for walleye tips page will grow over the coming months.
Most rivers hold populations of walleye year-round. However, they do move about between different staging and holding areas depending on season and conditions. So, it’s important to know where they are according to your locale and time you intend to fish walleye. For example, some walleyes may prefer to remain in lakes and only take to the river during spawning season.
Overall, walleyes prefer clean, hard bottoms of gravel, rock, sand, or clay. Dams, rock piles, underwater structures, sunken islands, and logjams are all spots where walleyes like to gather.
River walleyes can be taken in water as deep as 25 feet, though many rivers never reach that kind of depth. They can also be caught where they set up to feed, often in eddies/slack water on the downstream side of rocks.
Early in the spring, walleyes like to hang out close to shore or near sandbars. Weed beds or rocky points are also favorite spots for them to congregate, because they are likely close to sand, where walleyes prefer to spawn. Just before the spawning period, walleyes are particularly aggressive. If your timing is right, the chances of landing multiple fish are high.
Once summer arrives and the water warms, the larger walleyes will go deeper or hide in the weeds during daylight hours. This is a good time to fish the holes, right off the bottom. When the sun goes down, they will again move into the shallows to feed.
Walleyes are also known to suspend in deeper, open water at a depth of their preferred temperature range, generally between 15 and 25 feet. The big ones like to hang out in these areas, so this is where you stand a good chance at catching one of those trophy sized prizes.
This can be a great time for fishing for walleyes, but you’ll need to know where to be and then make the proper bait choices. The walleye spring season can be broken into three parts, pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. The timing of the pre-spawn period is linked to water temperature. In the earliest part of spring, when the water approaches the 40° mark, walleyes will migrate to their spawning areas over gravel, rocks or sand. This is a time when they are most aggressive and they will hit on almost any bait. The walleye’s favorite baitfish are likely hanging out in the shallows, so try fishing these areas in the dawn or dusk hours or at night.
Walleyes are too preoccupied during the spawning period, so this time may not be particularly productive for the angler. If you know when spawning has begun in your area, you can lay off for 2 to 4 weeks until the post-spawn period begins.
The post spawn stretch is also a challenging time to catch walleye, largely because the females are too tired from spawning to feed much. The males will eat more, but they aren’t particularly aggressive either, so bait presentation and patience are very important.
Trolling spinner-bouncer combinations or crankbaits can be effective, but take it slow. Somewhere in the 1.5 mph range is more likely to attract a walleye still trying to shake off its post spawn lethargy.
Then again, sometimes nothing beats live bait, especially in the spring. Night crawlers and minnows are often a good choice. If the fish seem particularly active, by all means go with the hard baits. But, if their bites are tentative, tipping a jig with a minnow or crawler can help pique ol’ marble eye’s interest to go for the easy meal.
Looking to land that 10-pounder? Night fishing during this season offers a great opportunity to catch a real trophy. While cooler spring days keep the males close to shore, it’s near and after dark that the large females move in from their deeper holding spots to feed in the shallows.
And, by the way, if you don’t have a boat or aren’t ready to haul it out yet, bank fishing or wading in the shallows can be very productive this time of year. Walleyes will be close to shore where the water is warmer and bait fish begin to proliferate. Need proof? Check out my nephew’s dusk catch.
Summer’s heat and abundant sunshine will drive the light-sensitive walleyes into deeper waters, holes, under weed beds or other shelters. Again, the hours around dawn and dusk to well into the night are the best times to try your luck.
As autumn leaves turn and the weather begins to cool, walleyes are on the hunt for all the baitfish they can fatten themselves on in preparation for the coming winter. They’ll spend much more time in the warmer shallows pursuing food. This is a good time to land some trophy sized fish, so try bigger baits. Shallow diving crankbaits or jigs with large minnows make good offerings. Mid-day until dark is the best window of opportunity.
Everything slows down in winter. The walleyes become sedentary and feed less often. They keep pretty much to the same areas as they do in fall, generally the deepest water. They also remain in their usual habit of feeding during the dawn and dusk hours.