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How to Catch Walleye

Walleye fishing is well known to the Great Lakes and is very popular in other regions where walleye thrive. While fishing for this spectacular species is quite exhilarating, it is tough to master the techniques used to catch these beasts. Many anglers often get caught up trying to prepare new setups or “proven” rigs instead of understanding the fish and their feeding patterns. So, before we teach you some tips on how to catch walleye, it is important to understand this fish species. Often times, you will have to change your rig or try to solve problems as to why you are not getting any hits from walleye. Most of the time, you will need to take a step back and think about how the walleye behaves in its maritime environment.

Walleye Facts

Walleye is a freshwater fish native to Canada and Northern United States. These gold and olive colored fish grow to about 80 cm and weigh up to about 9 kg. Walleye are characterized as schooling fish, so if you catch one, you are bound to catch another. The problem is trying to locate these schools might be difficult. You are most likely going to find walleye schools at dawn, dusk or on cloudy or overcast days for the reason that walleyes have excellent visual acuity under low illumination levels. This enables them to use the competitive advantage over its prey in low illumination conditions. However, walleye will feed during the day if the water is dark stained allowing them to use their photosensitive eyes. In the spring or fall, walleye tend to be located in shallower areas due to their reproduction cycle and spawning grounds. They are also located in shallower areas during higher winds due to the murkier, higher oxygenated water. On a calm day, walleye tend to be located along the deep side of the shoreline drop-off. In fact, wind is such a factor for walleye fishing that the term “walleye chop” was coined. The walleye chop is an optimal walleye fishing condition with winds of 10 to 25 km/h.

Walleye Fishing Tips

Now that you’re an expert on the biology and behavior of the walleye, it’s time to catch these amazing fish! Keeping the behavior and feeding patterns in mind, we recommend using these techniques below to catch walleye:

  • Use live bait! Live bait can be used on just about any set up including slip sinkers, slip bobber rigs, spinners, jigs and more. The action of the live bait gives the angler more flexibility. Most of the time, anglers tend to use minnows, leeches or night crawlers for live bait. Below is a good seasonal guide referenced from
    • Spring: Minnows, Small Red Tail Chubs and Fatheads
    • Summer: Leeches and Night Crawlers
    • Fall: Minnows Large Red Tail Chubs and Small Suckers
    • Winter: Minnows: Large Shiners, Red Tail Chubs and Small Suckers

  • Fish with jig rigs! Jigs are commonly used by walleye anglers because it enables them to reach deep areas where walleyes inhabit on sunny days. The type of action you use depends solely on the time of the year or more specifically the temperature. When the water is warm, walleyes tend to be aggressive. So, you should use a much more intense jigging retrieve or motion. If the water is cold, make sure to use slower action because walleye tend to feel sluggish with slow reactions. All in all, you should cast out and let the bait sink to the bottom and use the proper action depending on the temperature.
  • Use slip sinker rigs! Slip sinker rigs are a special kind of bait set up that eliminates line resistance. This is important because walleye tend drop bait as soon as they feel resistance on the line. To create the slip sinker rig, we suggest referencing Line on Fishing. They have an excellent step-by-step guide on how to set up this rig.
  • Use Slip bobber rigs! Walleyes tend to swim or suspend at particular depths on certain structures. The slip bobber rig is designed to suspend bait at a certain depth easily placing the bait right in front of the walleye’s face.
  • Spinners! Spinner rigs have been used for centuries because they tend to yield fantastic results. To adequately use a spinner rig, we suggest weighing it down to get to the bottom of lake or river. For more information on how to create a successful spinner rig reference Lindy Fishing Tackle.
  • Trolling! Trolling is a fishing technique where anglers commonly throw one or more lines behind a moving vessel and operate the boat at slow or fast speeds depending on the fish species. It is common for many successful walleye anglers to troll with crank bait and spinner rigs. If you’re using a crank bait make sure it matches the forage of the particular lake or river.

Remember, be patient and poised when you fish for walleye. If you decide to use a boat, ensure an easy launch with a Jet Dock boat lift. Our boat docks and lifts are designed to provide you with a quick launch while keeping your boat clean and ready to take out on the water. If you have any questions about our boat lifts or docks please contact us today!

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