To get a fish to bite, you need to know how, where, when, and what it eats.
Walleye are most active in morning and evening. They feed on small yellow perch, small northern pike, lake herring, other small bait fish and you can often find them around schools of these smaller fish. They eat a lot, they’re aggressive, and they’re not picky, which is good news for you. Because walleye eat by sucking in water around their prey, you’ll probably want to try smaller bait.
Look for walleye around submerged rocks, weedy flats, bars or other underwater barriers in the lakes. Wawang Lake is known for all these types of great structure.
Many predators like such obstructions, which help them ambush their food. Walleye locate their prey by sight, which means you’re not likely to find them in sunny waters; they retreat coyly to the shadows or the darker depths, often in groups. walleye’s strong vision also means you’ll have better luck with brightly colored lures, and you might even want to experiment with different colors.
In the case of walleye, to seek out their location, you’ll also need to consider the time of year. Walleye like water between 55 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and they move to follow it. In spring and fall, you’ll find them in the shallows of lakes. In summer, they’ll be a bit deeper — though you’re not likely to find them in very deep waters (more than 50 feet).
Now that you know those basics, let’s find out how you can choose the right baits and lures.
Types of Walleye Fishing Lures
Lures are designed to mimic a fish’s natural prey, so think about walleye’s eating patterns and food. Lures that move quickly will attract these aggressive hunters. Additionally, lures should be similar in size to the smaller prey fish.
If you’re fishing with a jig head, choose the jig head based on water depth — the deeper the water, the heavier the head. For deeper walleye fishing, you’ll want a jig head of about ½ ounce. In shallower waters, you can go as light as a 1/8-ounce jig head. If conditions are rough or windy, a heavier jig can help.
Depending on the time of year, you may want something that sticks close to the bottom, like a small but heavy jig (with a lead head) or a crank bait. If you go with a crank bait, again, choose one that mimics walleye’s natural prey — narrow, and between three and five inches long.
In various fishing conditions, you might want to try:
- High-action lures: designed to go deep (especially in warmer months)
- Crank baits: such as shad raps, jointed shad raps, or glass shad raps (with built-in rattles)
- A balsa lure: such as a rapala
- Live bait jigs: (for casting or trolling at the beginning of the fall season)
- A #3 or #4 spinner
- Trolling crank baits with more subtle action (better for the colder months
Finally, you can key your color choice to the sort of water you’ll be fishing. Use brighter colors for weedy or muddy waters.
Obviously, your bait depends on your choice of lure, as well as the fishing conditions. Read on.
Types of Walleye Fishing Baits
Remember that walleye’s behavior and location changes seasonally — so, the bait that worked so well at the beginning of September might not be the best one for May. Come prepared to try a few different kinds of baits, and remember that every angler works by trial and error.
When the weather is cold, you may find the best results with live bait. In cold water, walleye are sluggish. The movement of live bait will likely be most effective at stimulating them to bite. Walleye are more aggressive in warmer weather, and that can sometimes let you get away with plastic bait, especially plastic worms. But many anglers swear by minnows year-round.
If you’re using a live bait jig, try minnows, worms, leeches or red tail chub. With a spinner, try a piece of worm.
One approach you may want to explore is coordinating your bait fish to whatever is schooling in the water. If you see a school of perch, for example, walleye are probably feeding close by, so use a perch colored lure tipped with live bait. Then let your jig drop a few feet at a time, the better to imitate the movement of the bait fish. Obviously, this requires a bit more observation, flexibility and patience on your part. But isn’t that why you go fishing in the first place?
Try to time your walleye fishing expedition so that it’s not coming right after a particularly cold snap. You can often have good luck during the turnover — the time when the weather is getting colder — because walleye follow their food into shallower waters, and often into less protected areas. But a particularly cold snap changes a lake’s temperature patterns so dramatically that it tends to put walleye into hiding until they’ve adjusted. Gradual changes are likely to offer better fishing
How To Cook Walleye
Now that you know how walleye eat, it’s time to learn how you can eat walleye. Walleye makes for a delicious meal, and depending on the preparation, it can be quite healthful as well. Try grilling walleye with fruit chutney, horseradish or pesto for a low-fat entrée. You can also bake, broil, fry, smoke or blacken walleye. Walleye is flavorful on its own, so you don’t need to do anything elaborate or complicated.
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