Fishing Walleyes

Courtesy of Mepps Lures

The walleye, once only a Northwoods delicacy, is now abundant in many of the reservoirs of our southern and western states. It's become one of our most sought after game fish.

A "keeper" walleye will weigh 1-3 pounds, depending on where it's caught. A 6-8 pounder is "braggin"' size, and anything bigger can be called a trophy. Walleyes spawn just after "ice out" when water temperatures reach 45-50 degrees. Following spawning, males feed heavily. Females, however, rest for about two weeks, then go on a feeding binge. This is the best time to land a wall hanger.

Daytime Walleye

Walleye, by nature, are night feeders but don't be lulled into thinking this is the only time to fish them. Water color has a definite effect on the feeding habits of the walleye. Many lakes are dark water lakes. High noon is a good time to fish for walleyes in these waters.

Keep in mind, too, that walleye are gentle feeders. They hit light. Use a s-l-o-w retrieve.

The #3 copper Mepps Aglia can be deadly when fishing lake inlets and gravel bars. Underwater, copper takes on the color of a nightcrawler; especially following a heavy rain. Gold is an excellent choice on overcast days.

On especially bright days a genuine silver plated blade is a must. Don't use nickel or chrome. Genuine silver plating reflects "white," while chrome or nickel reflect "black."

Lake inlets have already been mentioned as excellent walleye structure. Walleyes will lie in wait for the river current to bring them food. Many times these currents will deposit sand, gravel or debris on one or both sides of the channel. When fishing from a boat, these provide excellent places to anchor while casting to the deep channel. Following a heavy rain, the current in these channels speeds up. When this happens, switch to a Mepps Aglia Long, or a 1/4 ounce Timber Doodle tipped with a Mister Twister Split Double Tail.

Suspended Fish

Walleyes are basically bottom feeders, but don't ignore those fish that suspend over drop-offs, in deep lakes. Some of the best summer walleye fishing is provided by suspended fish.

The best way to go after these fish is with a 1/2 ounce #1 Timber Doodle or a 5/8 ounce single hook Syclops. Try silver or "hot" colors on sunny days and gold or black when it's overcast. Tip the hook of the Syclops with a gob of nightcrawlers a minnow or a leech. Lip hook a small minnow to the Timber Doodle before attaching the Split Double Tail to the Keeper hook. Drift through the area while casting. Count the spinner down, varying your depth and retrieve until you start catching fish.

River Tactics

River fishing requires a different approach. Seek out deep holes that contain large rocks or sunken logs. It's from these holes that big walleye are consistently taken. The Aglia Long, in sizes 2 and 3, is ideally suited for river bank fishing. Look for a likely holding area, and position yourself slightly behind it. Tip the spinner with a nightcrawler and cast upstream as far as possible, letting the spinner fall back into the holding area following the natural flow of the current. Twitch the spinner lightly as you begin a slow retrieve. This is also an excellent tactic for smallmouth.

Walleyes may love big rocks, and gravel bars. But this late evening predator also likes to prowl the weeds. Don't ignore weed-beds near lake inlets at any time of the year, but especially on a cool summer evening, these weeds can provide lots of action.

Mepps Combos, including the weedless Timber Doodle are extremely effective under these conditions. In the hour preceding and just after sunset, fish a 1/4 ounce black Timber Doodle or a #4 Black Fury Combo rigged with a chartreuse Mister Twister Split Double Tail. You may also want to try a #2, 5/8 ounce hot fire tiger Syclops tipped with a small minnow.