Show Me Walleye
the lower end better for feeding walleye and the upper end for triggering “reaction” strikes.
Bottom bouncers are probably the most popular bait of Missouri walleye anglers. They trigger more strikes due to the use of live baits such as night crawlers, minnows, or leeches. A bottom bouncer is a large weight that keeps the bait at or near the bottom of the lake. Attached to the bouncer is a line and lure, which is trolled at a speed slower than 1 mph. A quick Internet search will result in dozens of methods and baits used with bottom bouncing setups.
Fishing a jig head tipped with a crawler, minnow, or soft plastic is a great option when fishing a location known to hold walleye.
Summer offers some of the most consistent fishing patterns for walleye angling, especially in daytime hours. As mentioned before, location of the thermocline is key.
During summer in particular, when you catch a walleye, continue to fish the same depth and habitat type to find more walleye. Trolling deep water for suspended walleye is a favorite of veteran walleye anglers in the summer. This type of trolling takes a lot of experience to perfect. Getting the right speed and equipment setup to put your crankbait into the narrow depth range that suspended walleye are using is critical. The biggest factors that deter-mine lure depth are type of crankbait, type of line, and length of line unspooled. Tools such as line counting reels, metered line, lead-core line, and crankbait diving charts can be found with a simple Internet search. Fishing with spoons can be really effective in the summer, once suspended walleye are located. With this method, you simply lower your spoon vertically below the boat, rip the bait upward, and let it fall back through the suspended fish. The falling spoon looks like a dying baitfish falling through the water column. Perhaps the best place to use spoons is in or near standing timber where crankbaits and jigs would become snagged. As in the spring, bottom bouncers and jigs tipped with live bait are hard to beat when wall-eye are found near the bottom of the lake.
When walleye move shallow in the fall, a favored method is casting shallow crankbaits. Just remember to keep your trolling motor run-ning and to not stay in one location too long. Walleye are on the move, and you should be, too. Fishing in the fall can be some of the most action-packed angling, as other species such as black bass and white bass are also shallow and feeding aggressively. As always, try mainlake and secondary points, but also be on the lookout for congregating baitfish in tributary streams.
With the onset of winter, walleye feeding behavior slows, but they can still be caught with specialized tactics. Walleye will often be very deep. Vertical fishing with spoons, jigs, and other heavy lures below schools of shad in the main lake can be effective. This technique is similar to summertime spoon fishing. Let the bait fall to a desired depth, jerk it upward, and let it fall downward through the fish.
If you don’t enjoy cold weather, winter is also a good time to clean out your freezer. Use up tasty walleye fillets in preparation for the new year’s walleye spawn and the start of the new season.
Where’s the Walleye?
With walleye, nothing stays the same for long. However, using the patterns and presentations discussed here, you will have a better chance of success the next time you’re on their trail. By also keeping a fishing journal, you will be able to track the times and conditions when you were able to locate walleye. These observations will help you quickly and effectively locate walleye in the future.
To learn more about walleye fishing and fishing prospects for your area, visit our Walleye Fishing Web page at mdc.mo.gov/node/5769.