Walleye can be found in many different type of waters and situations. This article will give you fishing tips and tactics for catching walleye in some more common situations. If you follow these simple tactics and tips, you will become a better walleye fisher.
Timber and brush
Walleyes in shallow water will use timber for cover and shadow as well as a supply for food. Flooded trees, stumps, logs on bottom, and toppled trees from an eroded bank are ideal spots for walleye to frequent. The best timber out of these to look for is any timber near deep waters for example; a timbered flat along the edge of a channel will have a lot more walleye.
Walleye will stay in timbered areas until the water levels rise, once the water gets higher they will move into brush. This will occur in the spring when the winter meltdown begins, flooding the lakes and rivers with excess water. As soon as water levels begin to drop back off, they will move to deeper water.
Preferred equipment in this situation are cone-shaped sinker rig with weed less hoods, brush and guard jigs or a 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jig with fine-wire hooks. These hooks are flexible enough that they will pull free if you become snagged. Other great lures include spinner-baits, spoons, slip-bobber rigs, crank baits and minnow plugs with clipped trebles.
The bigger walleye are usually where the water is the deepest so you might have to sacrifice a lure or two to get a good catch. If you are not willing to lose a lure, you will only catch small walleye.
Walleye go into weeds for shade, cooler temperatures and more food. Most baitfish use weeds for cover so a walleye swimming through the weeds can get an easy meal. Also on a bright sunny day, weeds provide cooler temperatures for walleye.
The best weed beds are in around or in deep water, very rarely will walleye go to a shallow weedy flat with no deep water nearby. Broadleaf, submerged weeds generally have a larger walleye population then weeds that are slimmer. Walleye are in the weeds mainly during the summer months, since the weeds keep temperatures cooler.
Weed walleye fishing is difficult, what may feel like a bite could just be your hook getting snagged on a weed. Live bait will also fall off your hook when you do get snagged and try to pull free. Also, you will finds yourself pulling weed bits off your hook as you fish. Working along the edges of a weed bed with long string weeds is best. Use a pyramid jig or a weed less jig with the attachment eye at the nose, the lure will then easily slip through the weeds without getting snagged.
A mono-leader type spinner with live bait while trolling above the weeds will also work well. Retrieving a spinner bait through dense weeds and letting it helicopter to the bottom once it hits a deep pack works to catch walleye in the weeds. Instead of a rubber skirt, use a minnow or plastic curly tail as an attractor.
If walleye are not aggressive cast a slip bobber rig in a pocket of tall weeds and let the bait dangle just above the weed cover. These rigs work well for fishing above sandgrass or along beds of long stringy weeds like coontail and milfoil. Use a floating slipper rig with a cone sinker for weedy fishing. Attach a float ahead of your bait or hook the bait to a floating jig so the bait will ride above the weeds.
Always try to keep your plug above the weeds so you do not spook the walleye if the weeds do not go to the surface. You might be better off casting in these types of situations and you may need to switch to a deep running crank bait or minnow plug for trolling along a deep weed line.
Jagged and broken rocks at the bottom of a body of water are often the best place to find walleye. It will also be one of the most difficult places to fish for walleye. Small jigs, floating crank baits and weight-forward spinners are the best choices for this type of fishing. Ordinary slip-sinker rigs will seem to get grabbed by the rocks as you troll or fish. To overcome this, follow these techniques:
- Suspend your bait from a slip-bobber and position your bobber stop so the bait will hang above the rocks
- If you are trolling lower your rig to the bottom then reel in one to two feet so the sinker will not drag. Drop your rod tip back until the sinker touches bottom occasionally, especially if the depth of the water changes
- Use a floating jig head or other floating rig to float your bait off the bottom. Your hook will be kept out of the rocks but this set-up will not prevent your sinker from snagging.
- Use a tube-shaped, snag-resistant slip sinker to avoid getting snagged if the rocks
- Keep your line as vertical as possible and when you troll with a light sinker let out a lot of line. The heavier the sinker, the better because you will be letting out less line and keeping your line at a better angle so it will not get snagged between rocks.
Walleye can be found most often in low-clarity water. Since less sunlight filters through and there are more nutrients, walleye can spend more time in food-rich shallow waters which is ideal for them. Fishing in these types of waters is very consistent; you do not have to change your tactics too often. Walleye are less affected by weather changes in these types of waters and they are easier to find.
Your strategy will depend on visibility. If visibility in the water is less than a foot, use artificial lures. It will be easier for a walleye to detect your lure because of the brighter color, the action and the vibrations of the lure. Fish in these conditions bite best between 10 AM and 4 PM on calm sunny days.
The best types of lures for fishing in low-clarity water are lures with high visibility and that produce a lot of action and noise. Fluorescent orange and glow in the dark colors are best. Lures that have a vibrating mechanism are also a very good choice in these types of water.
For water visibility between one foot and three feet you can use live bait with a spinner or other attractor. Fish in the morning and late afternoon but be aware that as the day wares on fish will stop biting.
If you know how walleye react in certain conditions in rivers, you will be able to adjust your tactics and catch more fish. Current and fluctuating water levels affect walleye in different ways.
Walleyes will not tolerate a fast current. They will swim in slight currents but unless there is cover, the will not go near a fast current. Walleyes are mainly found in eddies, slack pools, or downstream from a current break because the water moves less here. Do not fish only downstream of water obstructions because the deflecting water off a current bank creates a slack pocket where walleye love to grab drifting food. Walleyes will also suspend between slack and moving water, this way they can hold still in the water then dart out occasionally for food.
The more stable the water, the more likely walleye will be there. If water levels rise, walleye will move to more shallow water. They often feed in water only a foot deep and if the current in the main channel becomes too swift, they move back to oxbows, sloughs and backwater lakes. Walleye will continue to feed if the water level is rising or still but as soon as it begins to fall they will move to deeper water to avoid getting trapped in a dead-water pool. As soon as they move, they feed less often and fishing them become more difficult.
The best way to catch river walleye is with a jig. You can reach bottom in 15 feet with a 1/8 ounce jig in still water. The most preferred types are round head and bullet head jigs for fishing with a current because they have the least water resistance. Cast just upstream of a poll or eddy with your jig from an anchored position. If your slipping down stream, cast to pools and eddies as well or you can vertically jig while drifting with the current or jig trolling downstream.
Using a crank bait, minnow plug and vibrating plug while trolling against the current will help you to catch walleye as well. If the current is not too swift, troll along the edges of the main channel. Other good areas to troll are long riprap banks, edges of long sandbars and islands, and rocky shorelines. In these cases, weight down your line with heavy sinkers. Casting to a riprap or rocky shoreline while the boat drifts with the current using a plug will catch walleyes as well. If the bottom of the river is relatively clean you can use a slip-sinker rig to drift the bait with the current. Let out just enough line to reach bottom. Using a fluorescent spinner in discolored water will make a huge difference when fishing.
No matter where you are fishing for walleye, always remember that the action of the lure is the most important aspect of attracting fish. If there is nothing that makes them interested, they will not bite.