Here are some tips to help you catch early-season walleyes. For starters,
always have a game plan and pre-rig your rods!
Generally speaking, you can toss small jigs in the shallow areas you're
likely targeting for walleyes this open-water season. Say 1/16-ouncers, because
we don't want to spook fish with big hardware. Tip your jig with a minnow or a
When casting out and retrieving a jig over shallow, gravelly, or sandy bottoms, raise your
rod, then raise and drop it all the way back to the boat. Mix up your jigging
technique, and work with different dressings. Many times in May, you can drag a
jig on the bottom and pick up fish. It doesn't always have to be lift-drop,
Slip-bobbers also could be productive this spring. Over deeper water,
vertical jig or use live bait rigs. Crankbaits are a
good idea, too, casted into the shallows. Small, slow, and subtle should be
your dominating presentation.
Keep your lures at the right speed and right depth. If you pick up a fish on
the locator, then hover over that fish (say in 10 feet of water) and then work
a jig or a livebait rig. Usually you'll coax that
fish into biting.
Try A Split-Shot
Another top technique is using a split-shot ahead of a
live bait rig. Tie your line directly to the hook, then
add a split-shot above that hook. This is a finesse rig. A variation is to take
a torpedo weight and peg it four feet ahead of your hook. That allows you to
bounce over some rocks without snagging.
With live bait rigs, I'll twitch them or move the rod tip forward three
feet. Constantly move them and change things up a little bit instead of always
drag, drag, drag,
As for live bait, with minnows, a 2-1/2-inch fathead is
most effective, but mix up the size. You'll see fatheads spawning this
time of year, when the males turn almost black, and have bumps on their heads.
The female fatheads are more productive because of a negative scent factor with
With leeches, if it's a tougher bite, use a medium-size leech. I prefer black
leeches over those less active, lazy brown leeches. Whatever the color, healthy
bait is best, and never use half-dead bait!
Female walleyes are a tough bite fish during the spawn. Males will be
leaking milt and likely will be a little more aggressive. Remember to release
spawning fish, especially females carrying the next year-class of eggs.
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