The Way to Walleye

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2009

Last revision: Dec. 15, 2010

thoroughly. Use a troll motor to drag a jig baited with minnow or night crawler along the sides and tip of the point. Fish right below the boat, and be alert because walleyes sometimes just swim along with the jig in its mouth. All you feel is a kind of heaviness that wasn’t there before.

Cast and slowly retrieve the jig across the point to catch fish up on top. An even slower, but not necessarily less productive technique is to anchor atop the point and wait for the fish to find your jigs or baited hooks. Even bobber fishing works on flattish tops of points, as long as the bait is kept fairly close to the bottom.

My favorite technique is to drag spinner rigs along drop-offs. This works best where the drop isn’t sudden, but gradual.

Spinner rigs have a blade and some beads in front of a hook or series of hooks that are usually baited with night crawlers. You can buy manufactured rigs or fascinate yourself by devising your own. The simple ingredients—clevises, blades and beads—are available at most bait shops. You can fish spinner rigs behind a three-way swivel, with a pinch-weight ahead of them on the line or behind bottom bouncers.

Experiment and let the fish tell you how fast to drag them. You wouldn’t think so, but sometimes barely moving a spinner rig, with a slight lift-drop works best; other times you’ve got to speed the rigs along to attract walleye. No matter how fast you go, make sure you keep your rig near bottom.

Go With the Flow

Don’t overlook walleyes in rivers. They may be the most underfished populations of all. Our big rivers—the Missouri and Mississippi—have plenty of wing dams, jetties and riprap, all of which attract walleye. The fish also relate to sand flats, rock ledges and clam beds at different times of the year.

The same trolling and casting techniques used in lakes work well in rivers. The fish are generally shallower than they are in reservoirs, but fishing near bottom is still a must. Look for current breaks, where something interrupts the flow. Seldom will the fish be in the fastest water.

You’ll learn all this and much more on your own as you come closer to your goal of becoming a better walleye angler. The journey requires study, discipline and experimentation. That sounds like work, and it would be if it wasn’t so much fun.

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