Post date: Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 19:33
Updated date: 11/21/13


The walleye is the largest member of the perch family in North America.




The largest of the perch, the walleye is revered as a true game fish by most people. Fishing pressure on walleyes is so high that the government has to spend a lot of money replenishing the stock each year. But on to walleye fishing! I will speak first about the traditional way to fish walleyes, and then expound upon some interesting alternatives. For most of the year, walleyes spend their time in deep water. They relate to submerged structure. Mid-lake humps, gravel bars, rocky points, deep flats, and dropoffs are key places to target. Since fishing pressure is very high on walleyes whenever they are found in populated areas, locating walleyes can be tough. Sophisticated electronic equipment is almost a necessity these days. Once the walleyes are located, however, catching them is usually a simple matter of putting a live bait, either on a jig, hook, or floating jighead, in front of it. Light or ultralight tackle is best. The walleyes is a poor fighter, and even large walleyes can be subdued on 4 pound test line.  Walleyes are most active at night, and at dawn and dusk. Typical baits for walleyes are minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers. In rivers, walleyes can sometimes be caught on fly tackle, which makes the most of their limited fighting ability. Look for them around rip-rap and gravel near deep water. The Clouser Minnow, with it's fast sink rate, is the fly of choice. Build your Clousers to match the local forage. Full-sink or sink-tip lines may be helpful. Small rivers can provide excellent fly-fishing for walleyes, especially in the spring and early summer. Look for concentrations of spawning minnows, and you may find hundreds of walleyes stacked up in the fast, foamy water. In these circumstances, a properly presented Clouser Minnow will produce a walleye unfailingly on every cast. At other times, eddies and current breaks will hold fish. In June and July, the giant mayfly Hexegenia limbata wreaks havoc with traditional walleye anglers. Ignoring the tasty leeches and minnows that anglers offer them by day, the walleyes wait for nightfall to gorge themselves on the succulent giant mayfly. Fly-fishing at night with large Hex patterns can provide excellent sport from these fish. By and large, walleyes are not targeted by fly anglers, but a good roughfisherman will very often find him or herself in a situation where walleyes are striking on every cast. In these situations it can be a lot of fun. Scale down your tackle and have at it!


Ice Fishing for Walleyes


While it generally takes a big boat and a lot of work to be consistently successful with walleyes in the summertime, winter brings walleyes more into the realm of the generalist angler. A ten-dollar pole and a cheap ice auger can be all that you need to put some delicious walleyes on the ice - if you know where to look. Once again, there is so much pressure on these fish that you are best trying to concentrate on populations that are protected from the majority of anglers. This means targeting small lakes and rivers, lakes where motorized vehicles are not allowed, and remote lakes that are hard to get to. Once you've located them, the standard jigging spoon, swimming lure, or a live minnow is all you need to get them to bite.


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