Walleye will be on the move toward spawning locations during early spring. Spawning sites vary from lake to lake. Spawning habitat requires moving water, however, so walleye ascend tributaries, where they spawn over gravel bars or in mild riffles. In lakes, they generally spawn over shoals with rock, gravel or sand bottoms. In both cases, the water is typically quite shallow. The movement of walleye schools toward spawning sites may take weeks, and walleye may stage nearby for several days.
Long underwater points are good places to intercept walleyes as they move. (This is also a good pattern after the spawn.) Casting stick baits over the points is very effective. Retrieve slowly. This can be done either from boats or while wading. Probably the most reliable fishing pattern for pre-spawn walleye in lakes is in situations in which walleye spawn in tributaries. This is simply a matter of the walleye being concentrated in a relatively small area.
Our smaller section of Wawang Lake makes the perfect spawning area for our walleye. Hotspots will continue to move as the spawn approaches, starting near the tributary mouth. Later, drop offs, deep pools and calm areas on the insides of bends get hot. The first good spawning habitat will stop most movement.
Fish behavior is rarely as simple as you might have read. Each body of water has peculiar characteristics that affect walleye in different ways. Even in a single body of water, different walleyes, or age-classes of walleye, will often behave in various ways. At least one of the tactics described here should get you into the game at most places, but keep your eyes and ears alert for whatever local anglers are doing.
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