Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting out, learning how to catch Walleye can be both a fun and rewarding experience . Walleye are an extremely sought after species as they are not only an extremely tasty table dish but can be quite challenging to get onto the hook as well.
So, with that welcome to my 5 tips for catching Walleye this year as we see what we can come up with to assist you in getting them into the net…
What are Walleye?
Walleye are a freshwater gamefish native to the United States and Canada. Also known as also called the yellow pike or yellow pickerel, they live predominately at the bottom of lakes and rivers and are known as one of the most prized freshwater table fish you can catch.
Walleye have a long, thin body that is primarily gold and olive in color with a white belly. They posses two dorsal fins on the top of their bodies with a large mouth and sharp teeth. Their name comes from their eyes which are cloudy-looking which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment.
Tips for catching Walleye
Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for catching Walleye below…
1. Choose the right times
As above, Walleye can be a tricky beast to get around so my first tip is about making sure you are there at the right time. And in this case, the best times for catching Walleye are in the hour window before and after sunset. This is when they can take advantage of their exceptional eyesight to chase bait fish as they start to settle for the evening.
Alternatively, if you wish to go out in the daylight hours, a cloudy day will suit you best and try is you can to start at dawn.
2. Walleye like structure
Walleye live predominately in large lakes and rivers and like to stick to structure and deep drops offs where they can corner or ambush their prey. In general, look for areas that have some variation in underwater conditions such as:
- Drop offs
- Ridges and humps
- Stoney points
- Weed beds
Another consideration here is that unlike Largemouth Bass that hide under logs and rocks etc., Walleye tend to run in schools so structures need to be large enough to accommodate their movements.
3. Use your tools
As Walleye are best found in schools in large lakes where water movement and structure can play a large part in where they will be, my next tip is around using extra tools at your disposal to locate them quickly. This includes:
- Use a map – The last thing you want to do is travel around a large lake trying to find a good school Walleye to get amongst. If possible, find a map that highlights where the types of structure3 listed above will be. This way you can map out a few good places to try without wasting time elsewhere.
- Use a fish finder – One good thing about schooling fish is that they can easily be located with electronic tools such as a fish finder. So once you have located where relevant structures can be located in your chosen body of water, these will help you locate the fish once you get there.
- Ask a local – Want to know all of the above – ask a local. Lake or riverside bait and tackle shops are a good starting point here.
- Look for bait fish – And if all else fails, look for ‘bust ups’ of bait fish on the water surface once you get out there as well.
4. Match baits and lure
Like most wild animals, fish will chow down on whatever is available to them in their local environment. So if you want them to nibble on your bait, make sure that the live bait you are using is the same type as they find naturally in the body of water that you are fishing in. This way you are not trying to get them to take something that they are not used to.
And when it comes to Walleye, presentation is also critical so whether you are trolling or bouncing along the bottom on a Lindy Rig, make sure your presentation is up to scratch.
The same goes for lures – we all have our favorites but if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing yourself a cloudy eye’d beauty, then I would strongly suggest finding out what lures are popular in that area. Admittedly there can be a science to this and many seasoned Walleye fisherman will swear by using different lures at different times. Others only use certain types (or fresh bait) and won’t hear of anything else.
5. Move around
And finally, as we mentioned above Walleye like to congregate in structure etc. in lakes and streams. They do however tend to move around in schools a bit looking for live bait. So like other faster moving species, if there are no bites in your chosen location, then maybe move to another spot – trolling along the way if you can.
You can of course try a different bait or lure behavior but if still nothing then move somewhere else – especially if you are ice fishing. Again speak to the locals as they can generally tell you where the fish will be at certain times of the year and where to go if they are not in the spot you thought they would be.
So there you have it, my 5 Walleye fishing tips for those looking to get amongst them this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.