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Score NOW on early season walleyes!

Fishing in and around the Great Lakes region including all tributaries and adjoining states.

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Score NOW on early season walleyes!

Postby JDeBoer » Mon Mar 31, 2008 6:59 pm

Perhaps the most eagerly sought after of all game fish, at least during the early open-water months of spring, is the walleye. The walleye presents a much needed bend in the rod after the icy grasp of winter in addition to being excellent table fare. I’m fortunate that here in North-Central Wisconsin, I can fish walleyes pretty much year round on the Wisconsin River system thanks to the season being open! Although last season found some fantastic fishing action as early as late February, the bite this season has been different due to the drastic difference in the current winter. The good news is that you can still catch walleyes right now as this season has already proved, and better yet, spring weather and even better fishing is right around the corner!

So how does an angler begin their search during this early season period? Begin by looking at the deeper holes and pools on rivers, and begin exploring the deeper sections of main river channel adjacent to spawning areas as well as secondary channels with access to spawning areas while on any of the rivers reservoirs. Having been practically born and raised on the Wisconsin River system, I can tell you there are a variety of areas that hold fish; a little patience while searching will reap big rewards.

As the water warms and the spawning mentality reaches more of a fever pitch, look for funnel and neck-down areas immediately adjacent to spawning areas to hold numbers of fish as will the spawning areas themselves. While spring temperatures are not always the most comfortable, there are tremendous angling opportunities often available at night for the angler looking in the right areas.

There are so many effective techniques to score on walleyes, but three are worth your time and effort to master; do so and you will find yourself catching springtime walleyes year in and year out. Jig fishing is probably one of the most popular presentations in the early season and for good reason, it catches a lot of fish. Equip yourself with an assortment of colors and sizes, ranging from 1/16 oz. to 3/8 oz. These should handle most situations you will come across in the spring, although in high water/high current situations, I’ve caught walleyes on jigs as heavy as ½ oz. Predominantly thought of with live bait, a variety of plastic trailers will also produce action, and are much hardier than minnows.

Live bait rigs have their place in spring walleye fishing as well, often scoring on fish that have turned away from a jig and minnow or plastic combination. Walking style sinker rigs are a staple in most serious walleye anglers tackle boxes, and do well on spring walleyes. The ability to adjust the rig, including the length of the leader snell, allows anglers to fine tune their offering should the fish become finicky. Another “must have” walleye rig for marble-eye anglers is the three way rig. Three-way rigs can be very productive when used while slipping with the current in a vertical fashion, or even trolling. I have caught walleyes while pulling three-way rigs baited with strictly live bait, crankbaits, and even yarn rigs and minnows.

While the bulk of spring walleye fishing is often thought of with live bait as the crucial component, the use of lures during the spring run is an often overlooked, but equally deadly option as well. As walleyes move upstream to spawn, casting or trolling crankbaits can yield excellent catches, including some true trophy walleyes. Although jigs work wonders for me in spring, my largest to date, a heavy spawn-filled bruiser at almost 31” long was caught casting a crankbait. Multiple other large walleyes have eaten crankbaits cast by clients or myself over the years as well. When selecting cranks, variety is again a good word to keep in mind. Both floating and sinking (countdown) style crankbaits have their place in time for spring walleye fishing. Locally I’m a big fan of brighter color combinations, but try more natural and/or darker patterns should the bite begin to slow.

As always, keep in mind safety during this chilly fishing opportunity and always respect the resource – don’t keep more than you’ll eat and practice select harvest on the “eaters”. As for the big gals, let them go, let them grow! I’ll see you on the water…
Joel DeBoer
Wisconsin Angling Adventures
"Fishing's our business...
and business is good!"
Wisconsin Angling Adventures Guide Service
"Fishing's our business, and business is good!"
Cabin Boy
Cabin Boy
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:37 pm
Location: North-Central WI

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