No doubt about it, we here in the Midwest are in for a different sort of
early open-water fishing in 2013 due to the cold temperatures and snowfall here
in late April. Whenever conditions are so out-of-sync, I review basic fish
biology. In this case, that means walleye biology, specifically as it relates
to the spawn.
The pre-spawn timeframe, which can be good fishing, occurs when water
temperatures are in the low 40s. Spawning begins and runs during the 43- to
49-degree range, and this occurs quite quickly, though all fish don't spawn in
same place at same time. Once the water temperature hits the high 40s to around
50 degrees, fish enter the post-spawn period, when they're recuperating. This typically
is tough fishing, especially for larger female walleyes.
When temperatures hit the mid-50s to low 60s, we're in that prime pre-summer
period when fish become more aggressive. Most of us consider this the best
walleye fishing of the year.
We're clearly not even into a pre-spawn water-temperature range. For the
sake of the days immediately following walleye openers, let's assume we'll have
open water in most areas.
My basic approach will differ this year because I'll start shallower than
during an average year. Fish could very well be in a pre-spawn or spawning mode
across much of the Midwest come opener in mid-May.
If approaching a new lake, mark likely shallow locations for finding fish.
Look for sandy areas, gravel areas, or transition zones between the two where
spawning activity might be taking place.
Now, most anglers will be targeting the shallows early this open-water
walleye season. That fishing pressure will make fish skittish, especially in
shallow water. They may very well retreat to deeper water, which will require a
more finesse approach.
Try and find shallow areas with likely walleye habitat that other anglers
aren't working. Don't fish boats, fish fish! The key to walleye fishing success
any spring is finding your fish first. Do your homework!
For a fine assortment of fishing gear, click here.