LEECHES AND NIGHTCRAWLERS
Leeches and night-crawlers are favorite foods of the walleye because they are natural offerings in most waters and walleye are accustomed to feeding on them.
When presented properly they are irresistible. A stretched out, wiggling leech bouncing along just over the bottom of a gravel bar or weed bed, will make even the most finicky walleye take a second look, turn around and zero in on target, mouth open and taste buds tingling.
Hook the sucker end of the leech to the first hook of a spinner rig and place the tail section on the last hook. Place it in the water and pull it at the same speed you are going to troll or retrieve at and look for the size, movement and or roll of the leech. It should run straight not roll up into a nondescript little ball; this does not attract walleye. When you have the leech trailing the way you want it’s time to add a few light split shots to get it down to the desired depth. By placing the split shot about eighteen inches to two feet in front of the hook you should be within six inches of bottom with the leech as you troll or retrieve, and you won’t have to run a whole lot of line out behind the boat.
Night-crawlers are attached to your spinner rigs in the same way. Again, make sure they are stretched out along the rig so they trail out on the retrieve. Choose the largest and fattest worms available.
The spinner rig can be purchased at a local tackle shop and comes in many variations of size and colors.
A simple rule to remember when faced with color choices is: bright days + clear water = silver spinner is a very good choice. Darker water or cloudy days try a fluorescent or gold spinner are other good choices
The beads most often used are red with white, or yellow; try mixing the colors until you come up with the pattern that works best for you.
Try slow trolling or retrieving the leech at a fairly fast pace at first to take advantage of more aggressive fish. Remember that you should troll according the weather system.
Bright, clear day: troll slow or even jig
Cloudy, rainy day: Troll faster and a willow leaf blade is a very good choice
A rate of about half again the normal trolling speed usually works well. Keep track of where the fish are hitting and come back over these same spots again but a little slower this time to take advantage of the less aggressive fish. Remember that it is not always the larger fish that are most aggressive and by fishing back you can add considerably to your stringer.
Having reached the place you are going to fish, maybe a shoal or weed bed that you have had some luck on before, try fan casting. Start at a right angle to where you are standing facing the water. Throw the first cast to the right and keep working to the left until you have gone in a complete arch to the other end. This will allow you to cover every bit of the water facing you. Now move down until you are at the edge of the spot you covered last and start the same procedure over again. When you have worked your way to the end of the area that you wanted to fish, you will have covered the area correctly.
Inlets are a good place to practice this pattern of casting, especially early season as the walleye are quite often in this area looking for small, early baitfish or crustaceans. By fan casting you can cover this entire area of water.
The above methods have consistently proven to be successful for opening season walleye. So get your live bait and be ready for a fun day on the lake.