Walleye Fishing, A beginners Guide

Fishing for Walleye, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide will help anglers new to walleye fishing catch more fish. Walleye are extremely popular in the northern states and in Canada. While walleye put up a respectable tussle, the reason for this popularity is their value on a dinner plate. Walleye are probably the best eating freshwater fish that swims!

walleye fishing tips

Walleye are originally found in Canada and the Midwest. The Mississippi River basin and Missouri River basin had good concentrations of fish. Walleye are nocturnal feeders but many fish are caught during the day. They prefer cool, clear waters of lakes and rivers. They have been successfully transplanted all over North America, as long as the water quality and temperature are conducive to their survival.

Lake Erie is a prime example of a walleye success story. Fishing there has been very good for decades. Recent spawns were historic and anglers fishing for walleye are experiencing outstanding fishing for both numbers and trophy fish. Fish over 10 pounds are caught with regularity. Many other lakes and river systems have excellent walleye fishing as well.

Walleye habits

Walleye spawn in the spring when the water temperature is in the upper 40s to 50 degrees. They migrate from their deeper wintering areas shallow to do so. River walleye migrate into creeks and rivers to spawn on rock and gravel bottom areas. Lake walleye move inshore to spawn on shallow, windswept rock and bars. Many productive walleye fisheries have spawning fish both on the flats, reefs, and in creeks and rivers.

walleye fishing

Once the spawning ritual is completed and the water begins to warm up, walleye will move out and school up in large numbers around deeper, offshore structure. Underwater humps, bends in river channels, steep drop-offs, main lake points, bridges, and any submerged structure can hold walleye in the summer time. They will also school up in open water with no structure around under schools of bait fish.

It is best to target summer time walleye early and late in the day or at night. Fishing can be tough in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer, especially with no wind or cloud cover. A little breeze will put a chop on the surface of the water, reducing sunlight penetration. The same goes for cloudy days.

Summer and fall walleye patterns

As it cools off in late Summer and early fall, walleye will migrate shallow again. This is a great time of year to catch them casting crank baits and other artificial lures as the fish are in an aggressive feeding mood, fattening up for the upcoming winter. Once the water gets cold, or even freezes over, the fish will move back out deeper to areas similar to their summer locations.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Walleye have a fairly diverse diet. They prefer live forage and will feed on just about anything they can find in a lake or river. Nightcrawlers, insects, crawfish, leeches, and bait fish are their primary sources of food. Walleye normally feed on or near the bottom but will certainly feed on suspended bait fish. This is particularly true on large, open bodies of water.

One look at the marble eye of a walleye will let anglers know that this is a nocturnal feeder. However, this is not an exclusive behavior. Walleye can certainly be caught during the day and most fish are caught during the daylight hours. Like most forms of freshwater fishing, dusk and dawn and periods of low light such as on cloudy days can often times be the most productive days to fish.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; techniques

walleye fishing

The two primary angling techniques that are used when targeting walleye are spin fishing and trolling. Since the tackle used for both techniques is quite different, they will be covered in separate sections. Tackle and techniques used by anglers fishing for walleye with spinning tackle are quite similar to those used for other freshwater species such as smallmouth bass. However, the tackle used for deep water trolling is quite different.

Spin fishing for walleye

Anglers fishing for walleye use spinning tackle for the majority of the drifting and casting applications. Light spinning tackle is ideal for drifting rivers and lakes using jigs or live bait as well as when casting lures or live baits in the shallow waters.

walleye pike fishing

A 6 1/2 foot medium light fast action spinning rod matched with a 2500 series reel is an excellent all around walleye fishing combination. It will cover the vast majority of situations that anglers fishing for walleye will encounter. A “fast action” rod is one in which the butt or lower section is relatively stiff while the last couple feet of the rod tip is very limber and sensitive.

The reel can be spooled with 8 to 10 pound monofilament line or 10 to 15 pound braided line. Many anglers these days opt for braided line for the increased sensitivity and reduced stretch. Monofilament line is less expensive and knots are easier to tie. Braided line is more expensive, knots are more difficult to tie, however it will last a long time and has virtually no stretch.

Fishing for walleye in lakes

Anglers fishing for walleye on lakes have good success by drifting. The lure or bait is presented vertically as the boat slowly drifts over submerge structure. Sunken islands, sloping points, channel edges, and schools of bait fish in open water are all prime spots. Depths between 10 feet deep and 30 feet deep are usually the most productive. This is an excellent pattern from late spring after the spawn to mid fall.

walleye fishing for beginners

A live nightcrawler on a Lindy rig is a tough combination to beat for anglers drift fishing for walleye in open water. This rig consists of a special sinker that walks over submerged rocks and other structure. The hook floats a few feet up off the bottom where the bait hangs suspended, enticing the fish. This is an excellent technique for novice walleye anglers to use, as it is fairly simple. Other live baits such as leeches and bait fish can be used as well.

Jigs are an excellent artificial lure to use when fishing for walleye in deeper water. Again, a vertical presentation is often the most effective. It allows anglers to thoroughly cover the bottom as the boat drifts over the structure. The jig is dropped to the bottom and worked in short little hops as the boat drifts along.

Jig fishing for walleye

A jig is a hook with a piece of lead molded near the eye. This weight gives the lure both action and casting weight. The weight of the jig had will be determined by the depth of the water, current if any, and wind speed. The idea is to use just enough weight to reach bottom while the line is Relatively vertical.

walleye fishing guide

Jigs originally came with some type of hair dressing, with bucktail being the most common. Most anglers today use a jig head in combination with a grub body of some sort. This is an excellent system as the grub body can be changed easily to match the available forage. Darker colors such as black, green, and motor oil mimic leeches and crayfish. Lighter colors such as pearl and chartreuse are excellent bait fish imitations.

Grub bodies come in many different shapes, styles, and colors. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the variety that is available. Curly tail jigs and shad tail jigs have excellent action and the water and imitate bait fish. However, a selection of 2 inch to 3 inch grub bodies in both light and dark colors in a couple different styles will cover most angling situations. The same applies to jig heads; a good supply of various colored jig heads and weights from 1/8 ounce to 1/2 ounce is all that most anglers will need.

Cool weather walleye patterns

Walleye are found in shallower waters and lakes in the cooler months. Often times, they are quite active and in a feeding mood. Fish that have moved to the shallows in the spring and the fall from deeper waters will be found around rocks, points, fallen timber, docks, and other structure and water from 10 feet deep up as shallow as a couple feet deep.

This is a great time for anglers to cast artificial lures in search of feeding walleye. Crank baits are an excellent choice as they allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a fairly short amount of time. They also draw reaction strikes from aggressive fish. Crank baits come in many different styles, shapes, colors, and sizes. Every angler has his or her favorite crank bait.

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

Crank baits should match the relative size, shape, and color of the local forage. Lighter, wide body plugs mimic shad. Long, slender jerk bait plugs imitate other bait fish and work very well over suspended grass beds. Other crank baits, and crawfish colors and are deadly when bounced along rocky bottoms.

Shoreline fishing for walleye

The jig and grub combo also works very well for anglers casting shorelines and flats when fishing for walleye in shallower water. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink, and worked slowly back to the boat using a series of hops. As in all artificial lure fishing, angler should vary relive retrieve and the lure until a productive pattern emerges.

Live bait can certainly be used in this application as well. A live nightcrawler fished under a float is a simple angling technique that is still very effective to this day. A live minnow can be deadly when fished this way as well. In deeper water, up to 10 feet, anglers often use a slip bobber. This allows for easier casting while presenting the bait at the ideal spot in the water column.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; Ice fishing

ice fishing for walleye

Walleye can most certainly be caught through the ice! Ice fishing for walleye can be extremely productive and allows anglers without a boat to catch these fish in larger lakes. Most walleye are found between 10 feet deep and 25 feet deep in the winter. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. As with all fishing, anglers should keep moving until a school of fish is located.

Anglers ice fishing obviously must use a vertical presentation. Small artificial lures such as a jig, jigging spoon or specially designed jigging plug will all work well. However, it is tough to beat a live minnow when fishing for walleye through the ice. A live minnow hooked through the lips on a light jig head is an excellent combination and has put many walleye on ice over the years.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Fishing for walleye in rivers

Walleye are found in rivers and streams throughout the Midwest and Canada. Many Lake systems have rivers that connect the lakes. Often times, these are overlooked walleye fishing spots. Many of the techniques that produce walleye in lakes will work in rivers as well. However, there are some differences to take into consideration.

river fishing for walleye

River conditions are very important when it comes to fishing for walleye and rivers as well as for other species. The best time to fish rivers is when the water is at normal stage or a little below, clear, with a light to moderate flow. River fishing is not only difficult, it is quite dangerous when the water is high, dirty, and fast.

One advantageous aspect of river fishing is that fish are easier to locate. There is less area to search for them than there is in large lakes. Also, river fish tend to stage and hold in the same types of locations no matter which River is being fished. Current is the primary factor and will dictate where the fish will be found.

River fishing advantages

Rivers offer walleye anglers other advantages as well. Fish in rivers tend not to be as affected by weather systems as do fish in lakes. Walleye in rivers also get less pressure than do those in lakes. This can result in a larger than average sized fish being landed in rivers.

Walleye will normally be found in the deeper parts of streams and small rivers. Deeper holes between the riffles, especially if larger rocks are present, are prime spots. Walleye do not like a lot of current and will not be found in a swift parts of the stream. Small rivers and large streams can produce some surprisingly large fish.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

Walleye will spread out more in larger rivers. However, anglers can still concentrate on the high percentage spots. Anything that causes a break in the current is a potential walleye holding spot. Bridges, rip rap, points, wing dams, jetties, large boulders, and anything that will break the current and create an eddy will be used by walleye as a feeding station.

River lures and baits

The same lures and baits that produce walleye in lakes will produce in rivers and streams as well. The jig and grub combination is an excellent choice to locate fish. Anglers will inevitably snag on the bottom and these lures are relatively inexpensive. Darker colors are normally more productive. Shallow diving plugs can be used as well.

Live bait will certainly produce for anglers fishing for walleye in rivers. A nightcrawler, minnow, or leech bounced on the bottom through a pool is a very productive technique. Anglers can also fish the same live baits under a float in the shallower portions as well. A live minnow hooked on a jig head is another effective bait.

Fishing for walleye, a beginners guide; Trolling

trolling for walleye

Trolling is a very effective technique for anglers fishing for walleye. This technique allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple depths in the water column while covering a large amount of water in a relatively short amount of time. Trolling is basically the technique where lures or live baits are dragged behind a slowly moving boat. However, it is much more complex than that.

Trolling requires quite a bit of special equipment. Most anglers opt for conventional outfits when trolling. They are the best choice as these reels hold a lot of line, have smooth drags, and provide excellent power when cranking. Trolling rods are longer and quite limber as they must absorb a lot of energy from both the tackle being trolled and when a fish hits.

walleye fishing tips

Both artificial lures and live bait are used by anglers trolling for walleye. Plugs and spoons are the two most popular lures. They come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Spoons and plugs wobble enticingly putting out flash and vibration. This closely mimics a wounded bait fish and is very effective for producing strikes. A live nightcrawler on a worm harness with a Colorado or twin willow blades is extremely effective as well. A slow presentation usually works best.

Walleye trolling tackle

The best all round walleye trolling rig consists of an 8′ to 10′ rod matched with a Daiwa Accudepth 47LC or 57 LC reel in spooled up with 17 pound test mono or 30-50 braided line. Reels with line counters are crucial to consistently present lines at the same depth. Once a productive pattern emerges, reels with line counters make it much easier to duplicate the presentation.

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Anglers use several methods to get the lures down in the water column. The easiest method, and one that does not require any extra gear such as downriggers, is to use diving plugs. Plugs come with a plastic lip at the front. The size and shape of the lip along with the plug itself in the diameter of the line will determine how deep the plug will dive. Trolling speed and line diameter will also affect the depth to some degree.

Plugs can be presented at specific depths

Plug manufacturers have specifications that will give anglers an idea of the depth that which a certain lure will run. These steps can often be a tad optimistic. However, it is a good starting point. Anglers can run several different lures at multiple depths using various colors to cover as much of the water column as possible. This technique works very well when trolling in water between 10 feet deep and 20 feet deep.

walleye lures

Inline weights can be used to get the plugs down deeper than they were designed to run. These weights can be tied inline but also come as “clip on” weights. These are convenient and allow anglers to quickly and easily adjust the depth. Lure manufactures often supply charts that will help determine the weight needed to get a particular lure to a certain depth. However, experience is the best teacher.

Walleye fishing with downriggers

Downriggers are a piece of equipment that troll lures use when fishing for walleye. They consist of a spool and a crank, a short arm, and a heavy downrigger ball. Line is let out and then attached to a downrigger clip. The ball is then lower to the desired depth. A counter on the downrigger let’s the angler know how deep the ball is. When a fish strikes, the line is pulled through the clip and the angler fights the fish using just the rod and reel.

trolling with downriggers

Downriggers are expensive and a bit cumbersome. However, they are an essential tool for serious anglers trolling deeper lakes for walleye. Anglers can add multiple clips on the downrigger line, resulting in the ability to run several lures at various depths. Anglers can run just about any lure or bait from a downrigger. Some of the best lures to use are Stinger Spoons, Husky Jerks with a small lip, and Reef Runners. Every geographical area has it’s “favorite” lures. Anglers can monitor online message boards and join clubs to get this information. Local tackle shops are a great source and will usually stock the productive plugs for that region.

Dipsy Divers

Dipsy Divers are a clever little device that anglers use to get their lures down in the water column. It works a bit like a deep diving plugs. It has multiple settings which the angler can use to adjust the depth that which the lure will run. Anglers can also “offset” the Dipsy, which will result in the lure running off to the side. Anglers can then cover a wider path of water by using multiple rigs. When a fish hits, a little clip pops and the angler fights the fish without the drag of the Dipsy Diver.

trolling for walleye

The Dipsy Diver is tied directly to the running line of the rod. A 6 to 12 foot long fluorocarbon leader of 15-20 pound test is attached to the diver. The lure is attached to the other end of the leader. The best lures and baits to use when trolling with this rig are worm harnesses, spoons, and small lipped plugs. It is important not to use a plug with a large lip as it will “trip” the Dipsy Diver. Most anglers opt for braided line when using Dipsy Divers. It reduced the drag in the water while eliminating line stretch when trolling deep with a lot of line out.

Planer boards

Planer boards are used to take lines off to the side of the boat. They work a little bit like Dipsy’s except that instead of going down in the water column they ride on the surface of the water. They generally run about 45° off of the side of the boat. The more line that is let out, the further off to the side the planer board will run.

trolling with planer boards

The boards attach using little clips to the running line. Anglers let the lure out the desired distance behind the boat, then attached the planer board. The planer board is slowly played out off to the side as line is released from the reel. Once the planer board is the desired distance from the boat, the rod is put into a rod holder. These in-line planer boards allow anglers to run multiple rods with different lure combinations on each side of the boat.

Anglers fishing for walleye can run 3 to 4 planer boards on each side of the boat. The best spread has the outside lines being the furthest back and shallowest. Then, each line moving towards the boat is deeper and closer to the boat. This will allow anglers to work the fish up the middle, above the lines. If the fish dives, the lines may tangles, there is just not a lot that can be done about that.

Planer board trolling strategies

When a fish hits, the angler removes the rod from the holder and works the fish up the middle behind the boat. When the planer board nears the rod tip, the angler stops reeling while his or her partner un-clip the planer board. It is critical to keep steady tension on the fish while removing the planer board. Even the slightest bit of slack can result in a lost walleye. This is a bit of a procedure, but once mastered is relatively easy. It is also an incredibly effective technique.

fishing for walleye, a beginners guide

A single planer board can also be used. The planer board is put out the desired distance and then secured. Then, a line is put out. As with the clip on planer boards, the shallowest, furthest line goes first. Once the line is out, the rod is placed in a holder. The line is placed in a released clip and the clip is put on a ring. The ring slides down the planer board line. When a fish hits, it pulls the line from the clip. Multiple lines can be used on each side of the boat.

Speed is crucial when it comes to trolling for walleye. Every day is different and anglers must experiment to see what lure and speed combination will produce that day. However, most walleye anglers find that 1.5 to 2.3 miles an hour is the most productive speed to use.

Top US walleye fishing spots

Lake Erie

Lake Erie may be the best walleye fishery in North America at this time. It offers anglers both good action on smaller fish as well as an excellent trophy fishery. The action starts with anglers jigging the reefs in March and April, after the water clears advice. As it moves into summer, angler switch tactics and cast to the shallow shoreline structure as well as trolling and drifting the open water spots.

Water temperature and forage availability are keys to fishing Lake Erie. The schools of walleye will move east along with the abundant forage such as smelt. As it warms up into the middle of summer, successful anglers switch from crank baits to live bait such as nightcrawlers on a harness. It is important to cover the entire water column, as walleye will often be found at mid depths, especially if there is a little breeze.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods did not earn its nickname “The walleye capital of the world”without merit. This lake that borders the United States and Canada in northern Minnesota has over 1 million acres of water that offers excellent angling for walleye all year long. As with the other best walleye fishing lakes, Lake of the Woods offers both numbers and trophies.

Anglers divide Lake of the Woods into three sections. The rainy river feeds Lake of the Woods. Big Traverse Bay is basically 25 miles long and 25 miles wide. The Northwest angle is home to over 15,000 islands. All three sections offer excellent angling at one time of the year or another.

Anglers successfully target post spawn walleye and the spring at the mouth of the rainy River. Structure in this area is very productive, with jigs, crank baits, and live bait all produce. As it warms up, walleye will gradually move out to the main lake areas. Walleye are generally found on brakes and structure in 15 to 20 feet of water in late spring and early summer. Drifting or slow trolling with a crawler harnesses tough to beat.

Traditional summer patterns produce for anglers fishing for walleye in the warmer months in the open water sections. Trolling crank baits on downriggers and using heavy bottom bouncers with live bait are the two most productive methods. As it begins to cool off, the pattern will reverse itself and fish will move shallow once again. Ice fishing is very popular and very productive on Lake of the Woods.

Saginaw Bay, Michigan

Saginaw Bay is a fisheries management success story. While I were virtually extinct in the 1970s. However, due to the incredible efforts of fishing and sportsmen’s organizations along with the Michigan DNR, the population has rebounded. Saginaw Bay now offers anglers excellent walleye fishing all year long.

While I move into this area in the winter from the main lake. This results in excellent ice fishing for walleye as well as casting the shallow structure and early spring after ice out. Anglers casting jigs, plugs, and line spinners, and live bait should experience success. It is important to keep moving until the fish are located.

Just as in most walleye fisheries, as it warms up the fish head out to the deep waters of Lake Huron. Local walleye experts have found that there are two large concentrations of fish. One school of fish moves towards the tip of the “thumb”. The other concentration of fish normally migrates up the west side of Lake Huron to Thunder Bay. Trolling is a great way to locate these fish as a are constantly on the move.

Lake Winnebago chain

This is a large system in the state of Wisconsin that offers anglers super walleye fishing all year long. It includes four lakes; Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Poygan, and Winneconne as well as the Fox River and Wolf River.

Spring is the prime time for anglers fishing for walleye in the Lake Winnebago chain. These lakes and rivers are shallow and weedy, offering anglers the chance to cast lures in relatively shallow water. The rivers offer excellent fishing as well as spawning fish migrate up into them. Casting works well in the shallow, rocky sections while trolling is productive in the deeper stretches.

Traditional walleye summer patterns produce in the warmer months. Anglers trolling open waters do well with deep diving crank baits as well as nightcrawlers and leeches on harnesses. Shoreline weed beds will also produce fish for patient anglers willing to work a jig through the cover.

Green Bay, Wisconsin

While Lake Michigan offers excellent fishing for walleye south of Bays de Noc. Green Bay in Wisconsin is especially good, particularly for larger fish. Good numbers of average sized fish are available as well.

Starting in spring, anglers target spawning walleye on the shallow reefs as well as tributaries such as the Fox River and the Menominee River. April is usually the prime month to target spawning fish. Trolling flats in 15 feet of water to 20 feet of water is productive in May and into June. In the heat of the summer, fish are found in the deeper water. Anglers who prefer to cast will do well working points, channel edges, reefs, and drop-offs in 15 feet to 20 feet of water using jigs.

Upper Mississippi River, Minnesota/Wisconsin/Iowa

The upper Mississippi from its headwaters south into Wisconsin and Iowa is an excellent all around walleye fishery. This is an excellent option for anglers looking for numbers of fish and who enjoy casting. Most of the fishing, and catching, is done in fairly shallow water.

This is classic River fishing. The best time to fish is during periods of average flow when the water is clear. Any type of structure such as a wing dam, Boulder, bridge, drop off, and fallen timber will hold fish as a weight and ambush. Spinners, jigs, and shallow diving plugs are all excellent artificial lures. Live bait can be drifted through the pools and riffles under a bobber as well. Tail waters of dams are prime spots, especially when water is flowing through.

Leech Lake

Leech Lake in Minnesota is another good lake for anglers fishing for walleye. It offers anglers both action as well is a chance for trophy fish. Leech Lake is a beautiful lake with a lot of unspoiled, natural shoreline in a variety of habitat which supports a good walleye population. It is located within the Chippewa national Forest in the unspoiled scenery is part of the attraction of fishing Leech Lake. All of the standard walleye fishing techniques and seasonal patterns apply here as well.

Detroit River and Lake St. Clair

Despite its urban location and proximity to a large population base, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River offer anglers fantastic walleye fishing, particularly in the spring. Good numbers of walleye move out of the south end of Lake St. Clair and out of the north west corner of Lake Erie and into the Detroit River just after ice out. Fishing remains very good until mid May when the fish move back out into the open waters of Lake St. Clair.

There are couple aspects that make the Detroit River unique. One thing is the numbers of large fish that move into the river and spring. Anglers have a chance to catch 10 pound fish on every outing. Also, most of the fish are caught by anglers jigging using fairly light tackle as opposed to trolling. This really adds to the enjoyment of the catch!

Anglers do well in the Detroit River drifting and trolling. A jig and grub combination or a jig head with a live minnow bounced along the bottom with the current is tough to beat. The same goes for a nightcrawler on a harness. Trolling with crank baits is also productive. Fishing can be tough in Lake St. Clair in the middle of summer, with early-morning, evening, and night being the best times to fish.

Devils Lake, North Dakota

While Devils Lake in North Dakota is famous for its giant yellow perch, it also has an excellent population of walleye. Anglers casting jigs tipped with minnows are leeches around structure such as bridge pilings, rocky shorelines, sunken islands, weed beds, and fallen trees will do well on above average sized fish. In summer, trolling produces around the deeper structure.

Lake McConaughy, Nebraska

Lake McConaughy in Nebraska is a large lake, having over 35,000 acres of surface water to fish. While holding good numbers of average sized fish, it is noted for being a trophy fishery. It produced the state record 16 lbs. 2 oz. Fish.

Spring is a prime time to fish and the spawning run at the dam draws a big crowd every year. After the spawning run is over, the fish scatter out into the lake They will be the dispersed over a large area and trolling is the most efficient way to locate them. Anglers do well with banana shaped crank baits which hang up less in the abundant submerged structure. In fall, anglers do well vertically jigging underwater humps and ledges and 40 to 60 feet of water.

Lake Oahe, South Dakota/North Dakota

Lake Oahe in North Dakota offers good walleye fishing all year long, with an emphasis on fish between 15 and 20 inches long. Walleye can be caught suspended above the flooded timber using spinner baits, jigs, and diving plugs.

In conclusion, this article on Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide will help anglers catch more of these very popular fish!

 

 

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

The subject of this article is Minnesota walleye and pike fishing. Walleye are arguably the most popular freshwater fish in our northern states, and Minnesota is no exception.

walleye fishing tips

Minnesota may offer anglers the best walleye fishing in the country. Lakes and river systems with prime walleye habitat abound. Anglers target, and catch, walleye all year long, including through the ice in winter. Multiple techniques are used by anglers to catch walleye. While walleye put up a decent tussle, they are prized for their value on a dinner plate. Walleye have white, flaky fillets that are fabulous eating!

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing expert Brenda

Brenda Chesshir is our Fishing Ladies Minnesota walleye fishing expert. She grew up in St Paul, MN and her outdoor background stems from her parents passion with fishing since she was knee high.

“I was fortunate enough to have a family cabin for 35 years in McGregor, MN on lake Minnewawa. This was a multi-species lake so bass, pike and eyes were my target. I became addicted to walleyes and the challenge of learning different techniques based on the time of year, learning locations, best structure; Minnewawa was a weed walleye lake – shallow, weedy, and full of cabbage. Over the years I have been fortunate to fish alongside some professional fisherman and be mentored by some old-timers.

walleye fishing for beginners

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As I became more addicted to walleyes, I started to upgrade from my small 16.5 foot Northwood’s with 25 horse to a 17.5 foot Lund Pro V with 115 horse and of course at that point, I added a Humminbird Helix 7 and a MinnKota Terrova trolling motor; Spot Lock is a life saver for me, as I am able to mark and get on fish…goodbye anchor!! I get out on the water as often as possible and is highly skilled at catching walleye.”

Minnesota walleye fishing techniques

Walleye can be taken by several different methods. Anglers can cast, drift, troll, and even fish through the ice. Live bait and artificial lures are both very productive. Leeches, minnows, and nightcrawlers are the top live baits. Jigs, spoons, soft plastic baits, and crank baits are the top producing artificial lures. Walleye are generally found near the bottom. However, they will rise up in the water column to feed on overcast days, dusk, dawn, and at night.

trolling for walleye

Minnesota walleye fishing with live bait

Brenda suggests to novice anglers that are just getting into walleye fishing to drift or slow troll with live bait. A live crawler, leech, or minnow on a Lindy Rig or other bottom bouncing rig is the best way for a novice angler to catch walleye. Walleye feed on the bottom, baits need to be in that zone in order to draw a strike.

This system consists of a special sinker that “walks” along the bottom. The line runs through the sinker. A swivel stops the weight. Then, a 6 pound test flourocarbon leader of 3′ to 6′ is then tied on the swivel. A #4 to #8 Gamakatsu hook completes the rig. The baits are hooked in the front so that they swim naturally.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Drifting and slow trolling is effective on walleye

Anglers then drift or very slowly troll over likely areas. Ledges, rock piles, points, and wrecks will all hold walleye. On days with a little breeze, drifting will work quite well. On calm days, anglers will need to provide the movement by trolling very slowly. If a drift or troll does not produce fish, anglers should try another spot. Once fish are located, that area should be worked slowly and thoroughly.

“I find that slow death rigs with Mack’s Smile Blades are very effective. Simply thread a night crawler on the hook and pinch off, it spins slowly along. As summer heats up the fish go deep into32-36 feet of water. This is where trolling with lead-core comes into action and the “Precision Trolling, The Trollers Bible” book comes into play. Though relativity new at this technique, I plan to master it this coming summer. I see a lead core trolling “clinic” in my future. I mostly use leeches on Mille Lacs.”

Minnesota walleye fishing tackle

Here is a nice Diawa Accudepth trolling combo,

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Trolling with lures for Minnesota walleye

Artificial lures can be extremely effective when trolled as well. The main advantage is that lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time. Anglers trolling plugs of different sizes and colors can quickly find a productive pattern that produces fish. Plugs are generally trolled at faster speeds than live bait.

walleye lures

Brenda’s favorite lures for casting and trolling for walleyes are as follows;

“One of my methods for catching walleye is trolling crankbaits. I prefer to use shad style crankbaits as they provide a subtle wobbling action. I mainly use size 5 and size 7 baits. Trolling is a very productive technique that keeps me in good contact with fish that are active.

I also use a variety of stick-style baits. If the fish are holding in deeper water, I will troll similar baits on a line-counter, lead-core rig or use planer boards. This will ensure that the baits get down far enough to entice the fish. I typically troll at speeds from .7 to 1.2 MPH, depending on weather and bite conditions. I adjust my speed accordingly based on the reaction of fish to the bait.

Casting for Minnesota walleye

Casting for walleye is another one of my productive methods. Fishing the shorelines, shallow weed lines, and mid-lake humps while pitching various crankbaits is a blast! I’ll still cast shad and stick style baits, as well as rattling baits such as the Rattlin’ Rapala. You may even find me throwing an occasional spinnerbait for weed-walleyes!

Minnesota walleye fishing

If I want to target deeper water and cast, I will throw a lead jig paired with a leech, crawler, shiner, or plastic paddle tail. I will cover the structure with my bow mount trolling motor and pitching the jig and letting it sink to the depths and actively jig it back to the boat.

All baits used will depend on water quality and feeding patterns. Essentially, you are wanting to match the hatch and mimic the available forage. This could be crayfish, minnows, leeches, or small fish such as yellow perch. The color I use will depend on water clarity and cloud cover. When it is more on the cloudy side, I like to use brighter colors like neon orange, chartreuse, pink, and purple. On sunny days I use gold and silver metallic chrome colored baits. My favorite color patterns are clown and perch.

Catching Minnesota walleye without a boat

While anglers Minnesota walleye fishing from boats have an advantage, shore-bound fishing can produce as well. This is particularly true along river banks. Tailwaters below dams can be extremely effective spots to catch walleye and other species. Live baits can be drifted in the current. Casting lures will also produce fish.

Minnesota ice fishing

Ice fishing is an extremely effective walleye technique. Obviously, it does not require a boat! However, it does require some special gear such as an ice auger, perhaps a shanty, and other equipment. Also, safety is of the utmost importance!

Brenda really enjoys ice fishing for Minnesota walleye! The ice fishing generally starts in December and goes until first part of March, but this can vary year to year.  Brenda prefers to use rods to fish for walleye, though tip-ups and rattle reels are also very effective.

Minnesota walleye fishing through the ice

Brenda’s favorite method to use when targeting walleye through the ice is Rattle Reels, jigging rod, and bobber-style rods.

“I tend to run 18-24 inches off the bottom using large golden shiners or lite sucker minnows. I jig with a Lindy Frostee Spoon, Northland Forage Minnow or Buckshot spoon with a pinched-off minnow head. A lot of times the action of the jigging calls in the fish, and then the fish will come in and grab the bobber or rattle reel lines.

“I find on Mille Lacs that keeping it simple with a plain hook and a 3 foot leader on the rattle reels is most effective. I use 4 to 6 pound test line and I prefer green Berkley Trilene. Right now I am finding fish for the evening/morning bite in 7-10 feet of water, however I am hearing good reports on North-end in 32-36 feet.

ice fishing for walleye

“With my home in close proximity to the lake, I am fortunate to get out more than most. This year I went from a 6×8 foot skid house to a 14 foot Ice Castle – so no more roughing it, and am not able to spend many comfortable nights out on the ice. There is nothing better than hearing the rattle reel go off in the middle of the night”.

Minnesota walleye season migrations

Walleye follow distinct seasonal migrations. Like most species, they are found in shallow water in the cooler months during spring and fall. Conversely, they seek out deeper water in summer and winter.

Walleye are often found in waters 10 feet deep or shallower early in the season and and fall. During the summer months, many of these areas experience vegetation growths. That, along with rising water temperatures will push the fish out deeper. By early June, most walleye have moved out to deeper water. They will return again in early November.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

Walleye will spend their summers offshore, usually relating to some type of structure. Depth changes such as drop-offs on flats or humps, channel edges, submerged rock piles, and edges of weed beds in water between 8 feet deep and 20 feet deep are the best spots to try. Walleye feed best early and late in the day and at night. This is particularly true in the summer time.

Walleye fishing is good in the fall

Again, like most other species, walleye feed heavily in the fall as they fatten up for winter. Successful anglers will find the schools of forage fish, understanding that while I and other game fish will be nearby. Many of the same deep water structure spots that produced in summer will also be good spots to try in the fall.

While I will slow down and be less active in the winter. As weed beds die off, finding the submerged beds will be important. The edges of weed beds and 10 to 15 feet of water that drop off into deeper water are great spots to target winter walleye for both open water boaters and ice fishermen.

Northern pike fishing tips

Northern Pike are apex predators. They are aggressive and feed mostly on fish. However, they will devour nice, ducks, frogs, and just about anything they can get their teeth into. For this reason, most anglers targeting northern pike use lures that are on the large size. The old axiom, “big bait equal big fish” applies to pike.

Pike are often associated with weed beds in relatively shallow water. They lie in wait and ambush prey as it comes into range. This is another reason why most pike are taken by anglers using artificial baits. Lures are easier to use in these weedy environments. Northern pike are also caught in rivers, particularly where they dump into lakes. Ledges and humps will also hold fish.

Most anglers use medium spinning or bait casting tackle when fishing for pike. Large baits and lures and big fish in heavy cover require fairly stout tackle. 7′ medium/heavy rods with matching reels and 40 pound braided line work well. Most anglers use a short steel leader, but some omit that, especially when fishing in very clear water.

Northern pike fishing tips, lures

Daredevle

The Eppinger Original Dardevle spoon is an old-school lure that has been catching pike for decades. It still produces to this day. The most popular size id the “0” which weighs one ounce. Daredevle spoons can be cast a long way and have an enticing, wobbling action.

pike fishing in Minnesota

The two most popular colors are the red and white and “Five of Diamonds”. Other colors, including chrome, are certainly productive. While not weedless, they can be worked over and through grass beds. The best retrieve is a steady one with some pauses and twitches. A swivel is required to reduce line twist.

Zara spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is a topwater plug that has been around a long time. Iw was invented 75 years ago and has been catching fish ever since. It floats on the surface and is retrieved back using a technique called “walking the dog”. The rod tip is held low and twitched as the lure is retrieved steadily. This causes the lure to swing back and forth. Pike and other game fish find this difficult to resist!

The Zara Spook comes on one size. It is 4 1/2” long and weighs around an ounce. It cast well. Colors matter less on topwater plugs, but Bone, Chrome, and Frog are popular color patterns.

Mepps spinners

Mepps is another company that has been producing lures for a long time. The #5 Mepps Aglia Spinner is a very effective lure for catching northern pike. The thick bucktail dressing helps to reduce getting snagged on the weeds. It weighs ½ ounce and casts well. Most anglers use a steady retrieve, but vary the speed until a productive pace for that day emerges.

Anglers seeking a trophy northern pike will use the Mepps Giant Killer. This is a large lure that produces trophy pike and musky. It is heavy and can be used to effectively work deeper points and ledges.

Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a terrific artificial lure that catches many different species. It is very effective on northern pike. One once is the most popular size and chrome with a blue back and chrome with a chartreuse back are two excellent patterns. The lure casts well and puts out a tremendous vibration when retrieved.

The Rat-L-Trap is fairly weedless, despite have open, exposed treble hooks. A steady retrieve works well, though anglers can “rip” it through the weeds. This is deadly on pike as the lure is pulled sharply when it hangs on the grass. Pike assault it as it pulls free of the weeds.

Booyah spinnerbait

The Booyah Pikie Spinnerbait is a terrific lure for pike as well as large bass and musky. It is relavively heavy with a large, stout hook. Spinnerbaits are fairly weedless and do through weeds pretty well. It has tandem blades. The single hook makes releasing fish much easier.

Natural baits for northern pike fishing

northern pike fishing Minnesota

Ann White catches plenty of northern pike. She likes frozen smelt and suckers.

“My go to pike baits are frozen smelt or 8-10 inch frozen suckers. Either of which work great in early spring shortly after ice off. Pike will cruise large shallow flats in search of schools of bait fish, so often shore fishing is more productive than fishing from a boat. The large shallows warm up quicker than deeper areas which attracts the bait fish to feed on early insect hatches.

A simple rig of a 3-4 oz. no roll bait, sinker stopper, and swivel, followed by a 12 inch, 50 lb test leader of mono, with a baited circle hook has proven effective for shore fishing. When ice fishing, we switch to a pike rig that is created with a 8 inch loop of wire leader containing two treble hooks. Each hook goes into the bait fish, one at the front, one at the back.

Minnesota walleye and pike fishing

When a pike then takes the bait, the two hooks slide together and will have a better chance of hooking up. Steel leader will prevent breaking line on sharp teeth.  This rig is particularly effective when using automatic fishermen, jaw jackers, or other self setting tip-ups.”

live baits for pike fishing

Most anglers northern pike fishing with live bait use some type of fish. Minnows such as chubs work well for smaller to average sized pike. Those targeting larger fish will opt for a larger bait such as a perch or sucker. The same rig used for frozen bait, minus the sinker, fished under a float works well. Nightcrawlers and frogs can also be used.

Northern pike fishing through the ice

Many northern pike are taken through the ice as well. Anglers fishing the “hard water” do well using both lures and lives baits, often combining the two. A jig and minnow is a top producer. Special plugs that are worked vertically like a jig are also effective. Live minnows and suckers will catch fish, too. The same spots that produce in the fall will also do well for anglers ice fishing. Submerged weed beds, points, ledges, and structure in 8′ to 20′ of water are good spots to try.

Northern pike fishing tips

This article with our ladies shares northern pike fishing tips. Northern pike are a very popular game fish. They are found in the northern United States and Canada, as well as other parts of the world.

Northern Pike are apex predators. They are aggressive and feed mostly on fish. However, they will devour nice, ducks, frogs, and just about anything they can get their teeth into. For this reason, most anglers targeting northern pike use lures that are on the large size. The old axiom, “big bait equal big fish” applies to pike.

Northern pike love weeds!

Pike are often associated with weed beds in relatively shallow water. They lie in wait and ambush prey as it comes into range. This is another reason why most pike are taken by anglers using artificial baits. Lures are easier to use in these weedy environments. Northern pike are also caught in rivers, particularly where they dump into lakes. Ledges and humps will also hold fish.

Most anglers use medium spinning or bait casting tackle when fishing for pike. Large baits and lures and big fish in heavy cover require fairly stout tackle. 7′ medium/heavy rods with matching reels and 40 pound braided line work well. Most anglers use a short steel leader, but some omit that, especially when fishing in very clear water.

Northern pike fishing tips, lures

Daredevle

The Eppinger Original Dardevle spoon is an old-school lure that has been catching pike for decades. It still produces to this day. The most popular size id the “0” which weighs one ounce. Daredevle spoons can be cast a long way and have an enticing, wobbling action.

The two most popular colors are the red and white and “Five of Diamonds”. Other colors, including chrome, are certainly productive. While not weedless, they can be worked over and through grass beds. The best retrieve is a steady one with some pauses and twitches. A swivel is required to reduce line twist.

Zara spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is a topwater plug that has been around a long time. Iw was invented 75 years ago and has been catching fish ever since. It floats on the surface and is retrieved back using a technique called “walking the dog”. The rod tip is held low and twitched as the lure is retrieved steadily. This causes the lure to swing back and forth. Pike and other game fish find this difficult to resist!

The Zara Spook comes on one size. It is 4 1/2” long and weighs around an ounce. It cast well. Colors matter less on topwater plugs, but Bone, Chrome, and Frog are popular color patterns.

Mepps spinners

Mepps is another company that has been producing lures for a long time. The #5 Mepps Aglia Spinner is a very effective lure for catching northern pike. The thick bucktail dressing helps to reduce getting snagged on the weeds. It weighs ½ ounce and casts well. Most anglers use a steady retrieve, but vary the speed until a productive pace for that day emerges.

Anglers seeking a trophy northern pike will use the Mepps Giant Killer. This is a large lure that produces trophy pike and musky. It is heavy and can be used to effectively work deeper points and ledges.

Rat-L-Trap

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a terrific artificial lure that catches many different species. It is very effective on northern pike. One once is the most popular size and chrome with a blue back and chrome with a chartreuse back are two excellent patterns. The lure casts well and puts out a tremendous vibration when retrieved.

The Rat-L-Trap is fairly weedless, despite have open, exposed treble hooks. A steady retrieve works well, though anglers can “rip” it through the weeds. This is deadly on pike as the lure is pulled sharply when it hangs on the grass. Pike assault it as it pulls free of the weeds.

Booyah spinnerbait

The Booyah Pikie Spinnerbait is a terrific lure for pike as well as large bass and musky. It is relavively heavy with a large, stout hook. Spinnerbaits are fairly weedless and do through weeds pretty well. It has tandem blades. The single hook makes releasing fish much easier.

Natural baits for northern pike fishing

Ann White catches plenty of northern pike. She likes frozen smelt and suckers.

“My go to pike baits are frozen smelt or 8-10 inch frozen suckers. Either of which work great in early spring shortly after ice off. Pike will cruise large shallow flats in search of schools of bait fish, so often shore fishing is more productive than fishing from a boat. The large shallows warm up quicker than deeper areas which attracts the bait fish to feed on early insect hatches.

A simple rig of a 3-4 oz. no roll bait, sinker stopper, and swivel, followed by a 12 inch, 50 lb test leader of mono, with a baited circle hook has proven effective for shore fishing. When ice fishing, we switch to a pike rig that is created with a 8 inch loop of wire leader containing two treble hooks. Each hook goes into the bait fish, one at the front, one at the back.

When a pike then takes the bait, the two hooks slide together and will have a better chance of hooking up. Steel leader will prevent breaking line on sharp teeth.  This rig is particularly effective when using automatic fishermen, jaw jackers, or other self setting tip-ups.”

live baits for pike fishing

Most anglers northern pike fishing with live bait use some type of fish. Minnows such as chubs work well for smaller to average sized pike. Those targeting larger fish will opt for a larger bait such as a perch or sucker. The same rig used for frozen bait, minus the sinker, fished under a float works well. Nightcrawlers and frogs can also be used.

Northern pike fishing through the ice

Many northern pike are taken through the ice as well. Anglers fishing the “hard water” do well using both lures and lives baits, often combining the two. A jig and minnow is a top producer. Special plugs that are worked vertically like a jig are also effective. Live minnows and suckers will catch fish, too. The same spots that produce in the fall will also do well for anglers ice fishing. Submerged weed beds, points, ledges, and structure in 8′ to 20′ of water are good spots to try.

Top Minnesota walleye and pike fishing spots

Leech Lake

Leech Lake is a very popular and extremely productive lake for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. This lake offers walleye anglers both numbers of fish and trophies. Leech Lake is full of upper slot walleyes. Live bait is very effective but anglers using artificial lures should have no trouble experiencing good action as well.

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods is a fantastic walleye fishery in northern Minnesota! It’s 25,000 miles of shoreline in over 14,000 islands provide great habitat for walleye and other species. The fishing may even be surpassed by the incredible scenery. It is a long drive for many anglers, however it is time well spent.

Rainy River and the area around Pine Island and the Gap are well known and productive walleye spots. However, just about every point, Island, and tributary can and will produce walleye. Minnows are the top live bait. Anglers using artificial lures do well with bright colors such as gold and pink. Jigs are great bet in the rocky bottom.

Red Lake

Red Lake is another great fishery for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It is a terrific early season lake and is an excellent choice for anglers seeking action. Recent DNR surveys have shown an abundance of fish in the 10 inch to 20 inch range. For that reason, harvesting restrictions have been eased. There are a lot of fish in this lake!

The best bet for targeting early season walleye’s is to work the banks on the north and south sides of the lake and water around 6 feet deep. Minnows work very well on Red Lake. Due to the fact that fish are often shallow, anglers can fish live minnow under a bobber effectively. Don’t be surprised if a large crappie intercepts the minnow.

Lake Winnibigoshish

Lake Winnibigoshish is located just north of Leech Lake and is another terrific walleye fishery. The lake is very much in its natural state, with over 90% of the shoreline being undeveloped. There are a lot of walleye in the 15 inch to 20 inch range in this lake, making it a good option for anglers looking to keep of you for a meal. Anglers working 10 foot depths from Cutfoot Sioux to Williams Narrows should have success.

Otter tail Lake

Otter Tail Lake is in the western part of the state. This lake has a lot of walleye and it. It is the largest lake in the region and has a hatchery right on the lake. Anglers seeking numbers of fish will find this lake hard to beat. Shoreline breaks and cover are the best spots early in the season. Live minnows fished on jig heads or under bobbers is the top producing technique. Otter Tail Lake gets less pressure than some of the other more famous walleye fisheries.

Rainy Lake

Big Rainy Lake lies on the Minnesota and Ontario border. It gets less pressure than its sister Lake, Lake of the Woods. However, it is a terrific option for anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It offers great fishing and outstanding scenery. River mouths are top spots, especially in the spring. Jigs bounced along the bottom, either with a dressing or tipped with a minnow, produce well. Black Bay is a great place to start.

Mille Lacs

Mille Lacs needs no introduction to many anglers Minnesota walleye fishing. It is one of the best walleye fisheries in the world. Despite recent claims, Mille Lacs still offers anglers excellent walleye fishing. Also, with stricter regulations boat traffic will be reduced. As an added bonus, Mille Lacs offers outstanding fishing for smallmouth bass and crappie along with some jumbo yellow perch.

St Croix River

The St. Croix River is one of the better fisheries’ for anglers closer to the cites. Start in the Stillwater area and work your way south. Fishing by the railroad bridge or any of the pier’s from bridges usually produce with bobbers or jigs.  Trolling early morning can generally pull some nice eyes. Best time is early morning till noon, this is based on the popularity of the river and boat traffic gets a little heavy.

In conclusion, this article on Wisconsin walleye fishing will help anglers catch more of these great fish, both in Wisconsin and all over North America!

Best US lakes for northern pike fishing

Most of the best opportunities for catching trophy northern pike are in Canada. Countless remote shallow, weedy lakes and river systems offer anglers a great chance to hook the fish of a lifetime. However, there are plenty of good northern pike fishing spots in the lower 48.

Thousand Islands

This area of the St Lawrence River borders the United States and Canada and has a healthy northern pike fishery. Most fish are in the 5 pound range, with pike over 10 pounds being caught regularly. This is a great fishery for anglers seeking a ,lot of action. Other species such as bass, musky, and walleye will be caught as well.

Great Lakes

Presque Isle Bay is arguable the best norther pike fishery in Lake Erie. Green Bay offers excellent pike action. Michigan lakes including Muskegon Lake, Portage Lake, Manistee Lake, and Lake St. Clair all offer excellent fishing for pike and other species.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin lakes and river systems are well known as top northern pike waters. The Winnebago system in particular is an outstanding fishery. Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan Lakes, along with the Fox and Wolf rivers provide anglers with the chance to catch pike over 20 pounds.

Minnesota

Minnesota is second to no state when it comes to trophy northern pike waters. Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods are two large, diverse, and productive fisheries. Rainy Lake is another top producer

Western waters

Not a lot of anglers associate pike with fishing out west, but there are some very good fishing holes. Devils Lake, Mike’s Lake, Silver Lake, and Pelican Lake, North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea, Lake Oahe, and Fort Peck Lake are top spots. Spinney Mountain, Eleven Mile, and Williams Fork lakes in Colorado are good pike lakes as well.

In closing, this article on northern pike fishing tips  will help anglers