Transition Walleyes

May 9, 2016 by  

In many areas of the Midwest, walleye fishing for the next while will be kind of in-between seasons depending on where you’re fishing. In the southern and middle regions of walleye country, the fish have completed their annual spawning ritual and are starting to move in the direction of their summer feeding areas. However, this movement usually takes a little while. While they are in this period of moving away from spawning areas and to feeding locations, the fish can be a little difficult to stay on. They could be in one spot today and somewhere completely different a couple of days later. Here are some ideas for catching more walleyes during this transition period.

Remember that the male fish usually start biting a little sooner than the females after the spawn. The spawn is more exhausting for the females so they take longer to recover from it. The males go on the bite right after the spawn. Males are usually smaller than females in the fish world, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch any big fish. You might, but it’s more likely that your catch will be dominated by smaller fish.

Clear Lake Walleye

Bill Bunn took this Clear Lake Iowa walleye with a leech under a bobber late last spring.

It works well to continue to fish near the areas where the spawn occurred. Walleyes generally spawn on sand or rubble areas that taper gradually. Current is good. After the spawn they’ll hang around these areas for a little while. If you can find a drop-off or an emerging weedbed near the spawning area, be sure to work that area over.

There are several presentations that will get walleyes to bite this time of year. I prefer to use a faster presentation to locate the fish, then once they’re located it works well to slow down.

The fish will still be shallow, especially in stained water lakes.  Casting will often be most productive, but if you prefer trolling or drifting, get your baits away from the boat to prevent spooking.  This is even more important in clear water.

Start off throwing a crankbait to shallow areas that you suspect hold fish.  Much of the time seven or eight foot of depth and even less will be where the fish are holding.  A #5 Salmo Hornet has become my go-to crankbait this time of year, although the newer 4.5 Rattlin’ Hornet has also been very good.

When you find an area that has some fish, and when the aggressive biters have all been caught on the crankbait, work a jig/plastic combination through the area. This slower presentation will take some fish that wouldn’t respond to the crankbait. A Rock-It Jig tipped with a three inch Impulse Swim’N Grub or Paddle Shad will catch those fish, as will the new UV Mimic Minnows. In fact, the UV Mimic Minnow accounted for my biggest jig-caught walleyes last year. The Pink Tiger pattern was my most productive color.

When that action slows down, put a leech under a slip-bobber and let is swim around in the area a little while. That will take even the most lethargic walleyes.

Right now, or least very soon, the walleyes are or will be moving from their spring areas to their summer locations. You can intercept that movement if you keep these simple ideas in mind.

To see all the most recent episodes of the Fishing the Midwest television series, new fishing related tips and fishing articles from the past, visit fishingthemidwest.com. If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.


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