Ice fishing for Walleye has a broad range of methods and time-tested tactics. Here are 7 straight forward tips on finding and jigging for walleye ice fishing. The first three tips aim to help you locate walleye. The final four tips help you present the right setups and baits to catch walleye after you’ve found them.
Finding Walleyes on Hard Water
Walleye are always on the move looking for their next meal. You need to plan ahead and stay mobile in order to keep your bait within their feeding range. Here are our top three tips for finding walleye ice fishing.
1. Map Out 3-4 Key Locations for Mobility
Use depth charts and fishing maps to plan out your locations prior to your fishing trip. Choose 3-4 locations that show structural transitions in depth such as near shore points and mid-lake humps. Walleye typically habit depths of 15-25 ft, and hold along the areas that transition from different depths. For example, a point that juts out 50 yds at 5-10 ft, then drops off at abruptly to 20 ft. Target the area of transition.
2. Drill 10-15 Holes Per Location
Another key to finding Walleye ice fishing is to drill multiple holes per location. We recommend drilling 10-15 holes spaced in a grid pattern or in a zig-zag line at each location. Using the point structure as an example, drill 5 holes along the shallow area, 5 along the transition, and 5 along the deeper section. Jig your walleye ice fishing rod for 5-10 minutes in each hole until you find fish.
3. Ice Fishing for Walleye at Night
Walleye feed most actively during the few hours of dusk and dawn. However, walleye feed more actively at night in comparison to the day. Take advantage of the best 12 hours of walleye fishing by toughing it out and setting up before sunset and fishing through morning.
Jigging for Walleye Ice Fishing
One of the most popular techniques for catching walleye through the ice is jigging. Jigging action on your bait calls fish in and entices a strike. Here are our most effective jigging tips for walleyes.
4. Silver Spoons & Lures in Clear Water
We recommend silver colors for clear water situations because they mimic minnows and reflect light to call in fish. Silver colored baits are especially effective early in the season when there is low snow cover and walleye are holding in shallow water. Jig your bait 1-3 ft off the bottom until you mark fish on your flasher or get bites. Use our Curved Flutter Spoon or the Rattle Rip Minnow from our Ice Fishing Kit to reflect light and call in the walleyes.
5. Use Bright Colors in Stained Water
We recommend using bright colors such as chartreuse to lure walleye into biting in stained water. Bright colors work best in stained water because they help walleye locate your lure, whereas more natural colors are harder to find. Erratic jigging mixed with normal jigging will create more vibrations to help attract walleye in stained water. Use our firetiger jigging lure to search for walleye in stained water, heavy snow cover, and low light conditions.
6. Two Pole Approach in Shanties
When the weather is bad, fishing in a shanty is comfortable. However, you have less mobility to find walleye. Call in fish and keep them around using the two pole approach. Drill two holes side by side. In one hole, set up your first rod with a jig or slip bobber baited with live bait. In the second hole, jig another rod with a lure to call in fish. The jigging rod brings in fish and capitalizes on the aggressive eater. The live bait rod keeps pods of fish around and seals the deal with finicky fish
7. On Finicky Bites Default to Live Bait
Live bait rigs excel when fish are less active during a cold front or the low oxygen period of mid-winter. During these low activity periods, lively bait is the only offering that converts. We recommend presenting live bait like a fathead minnow jigged on a demon jig, or a medium shiner under a slip bobber rig from our ice fishing gear to trigger bites when fish are less active.
Ice Fishing Walleye Tips
These 7 tips will work for ice fishermen of all ages and skill levels. Most importantly, fish during the productive low light hours. Stay mobile and fish at least 3-4 structural features. Choose lures that work for the current water clarity and snow cover conditions. Be sure to keep track of the details from your previous trips to improve your effectiveness.