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Published on: Jan. 16, 2014

water temperature and water flow. Spawning activity of males is typically initiated as water temperatures approach 50 degrees, but figuring out when females will move to the spawning shoals is difficult. Spawning typically begins in the first part of March with Missouri’s southernmost walleye populations and can continue through the middle of April in northern Missouri.

After the spawn, walleye are hungry and on the prowl. At this time, anglers catch walleye in a variety of habitats and at different depths. In reservoirs, this timing often coincides with the crappie and black bass spawning periods. Thus, a lot of walleye are caught by crappie and bass anglers as walleye cruise the shallows in search of food. During this time it is important to remember “find the bait, find the prey.” Walleye in Missouri impoundments prefer to eat shad and sunfishes. Locating these fish can be key to finding walleye in the spring and summer.


As water temperatures warm and summer patterns set in, walleye move to deep water in search of cooler temperatures. In reservoirs, knowing the location of the thermocline is a major key to finding schools of walleye in the summer. The thermocline is the layer of the water column where oxygen levels plummet to a level that cannot support fish. Walleye are a cool-water species, and they tend to hug the thermocline to stay in the coolest water that still has adequate levels of oxygen. Focusing on locations where the thermocline transects underwater humps, depressions, timber, and other structures often yields the best walleye catches in the summer. Walleye are a cool-weather species, so as water temperatures rise in the summer, they will move to deep water in search of cooler temperatures.


When fall arrives and water temperatures start to cool, the thermocline breaks up and walleye once again can be found in a variety of habitats. In late fall, walleye are again caught in shallow habitats and in tributary arms, following schools of shad. With the coming of winter, walleye tend to follow two major patterns. In mainlake areas, walleye can be found below large schools of shad in deep-water areas. In tributary habitats, walleye move back into large-pool habitats.

Points, Wind, and Light

In addition to these seasonal patterns, there are a few key factors that veteran walleye anglers keep in mind. These are points, wind, and light.

Walleye anglers know that point

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