Walleye fishing is littered with hundreds of secrets and hot tips. We break through the noise with Walleye fishing tips that should be known by all. Similar to your local bait shop, our offices are a hot bed for Walleye factoids and adamant opinions on the best ways to catch these tasty critters. The general discourse is likely due to the finicky and allusive nature of Ole Marble Eyes. Through all the outlandish recommendations, there are a handful of universal Walleye truths that every angler should know about. Through our inner office debates, I found 7 Walleye fishing tips everyone at Tailored Tackle agreed with. Here is an interesting Q&A format I posed to the group, each answered by a member of our staff and agreed to by all. If your just getting into Walleye fishing, make sure to read our Walleye Fishing for Beginners to get caught up.
What is the Best Time to Fish for Walleye?
Peak Walleye feeding occurs during low light conditions. These conditions are most conveniently timed by the morning and the evening. The best times of the day to fish for Walleye are during the transitions of dawn and dusk. In the morning, fish about a half an hour before sunrise to a few hours after. You’re likely targeting 6:00 am to 9:00 am. In the evening, fish roughly a half an hour before sunset to a few hours after. Probably 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm if your planning around work. Walleye feed more actively on rainy, windy, or cloudy days versus perfectly sunny days. Feeding and conserving energy is easier when the water is turning up nutrients, oxygenating, and hiding from the sun. The best times of year to fish for Walleye are in the Spring and Fall when these ideal feeding conditions occur often and consistently. (Justin Brouillard, Writer/Photographer)
When do Walleye Spawn? Does this Help you Locate Fish?
Spring is spawning season for Walleye. Walleye spawn when the water temperatures are between 44 and 50 degrees. These water temps occur at different times throughout the country. You can expect Walleye spawns to occur in February through the South, May through the Midwest, and June up North. Walleye migrate to shallow areas like coves, streams and flats when temperatures transition to this magic range for ideal egg positioning in calmer water. The north end of a lake often warms first due to the tilt of the sun and common wind patterns throughout the US during Spring. This heating affect also warms shallow rocks and gravel areas, which are thus the preferred bottom consistency for spawn. Knowing this is important for Spring time Walleye fishing because you can anticipate where Walleye are located when the season opener occurs (most often after spawn). If you know that fasting Walleye spawned in the shallows on the northern end of the lake, you can target them on the points and mouths of these structures on their way out. Focus on the mouths of creeks and streams in rivers. (Ed Hitchcock, Owner)
What are the Best Walleye Colors?
Vision is a primary tact that Walleye use when tracking down their prey. A Walleye’s eyesight reacts strongly to red, orange and green portions of the color spectrum. Chartreuse, Orange and Red are the most popular colors for jigging, but don’t forget to mix in Glow/White and Black. Without much proof, our office mates prefer the brightest of the bright spectrum, like Chartreuse, on brighter days, and the darker end of this narrow spectrum like Orange on cloudy days. For night fishing, Glow/White is a vibrant contrast to the dark water and emphasizes your Minnow presentation. Whites give Walleye something to track and really antagonize a commitment. (Neil Hora, Pro-Staffer Ice Tournament Angler)
How to Catch Walleye at Night?
If Walleye love low light conditions, you can bet they feed throughout the night. While Walleye feeding peaks during sunlight transitions, they are typically more active throughout the night in comparison to the day time. This is a great Walleye fishing tip for shore anglers as Walleye push shallow, taking advantage of cooler, newly accessible feeding grounds. These feeding grounds are easily accessible for you too! Fishing from dock or shore at night is a great opportunity for anglers to start fishing for Walleye or for taking your family fishing. Position yourself along rocky banks or a weed line, targeting the transitions in the bottom. E.g. rocks to sand or the edges of the weed line. Cast baits that are easily visible such as a live Minnow under a Slip Bobber or a bright Crankbait. These night time classics can be found in our Walleye Fishing Kit. Be sure to cover water and vary your retrieve until you find active fish. If you have access to a boat, trolling lures with planer boards is one of the best ways to target Walleye at night because you can cover a lot of water and maintain stealth. (Ed’s Dad, Ed Hitchcock Sr.)
When to Fish Leeches or Minnows or Nightcrawlers?
Choosing Minnows, Leeches or Nightcrawlers is a tough decision to make when you’re fishing live bait rigs for Walleyes. While all three can catch fish throughout the year, water temps are the best indicator for optimizing your live bait choice. When water temps are cold, Walleye have more energy to exert themselves and easier access to Minnows. Choose minnows when the water is cooler in the morning and evening hours. At midday, when water temperatures heat up, it is easier for Walleye to feed on crustaceans and insects off the deep, relatively cooler bottom. Bait a vibrant Leech for Walleye in lukewarm temps as an in-between option. When water temps are hot, default to a seductive and easy to consume Nightcrawler. These principles work on a macro scale as well. Focus on Minnows during the cool Spring months, Nightcrawlers in the deep hot summer, and Leeches through the Fall. These bait recommendations are not concrete, all three will catch fish year round due to a multitude of variables. However, these temperature focused bait principles hold up more often than not. (Ben Cayer, Writer/Photographer)
Best Lure Patterns for Walleye?
Firetiger is arguably the most productive Walleye color scheme on a lure. The Firetiger pattern starts with Green on top, fading into Chartreuse in the middle, then blending into Orange on the bottom. Since Walleye primarily react to the Red, Orange and Green portions of the color spectrum, this pattern gets hit a lot. But, simply blending the the ideal colors is not what gives this pattern an edge. One of the primary forage sources for Walleye is their cousin, the Yellow Perch. It is not a coincidence that Perch have a Green top, Yellow middle, and Orange accents on the dorsal fins. Firetiger amplifies this natural color scheme by brightening the hue to call in fish from far away. It’s the most consistent color pattern year round because Perch are most often found alongside their Walleye relatives regardless of the conditions. (Chameron Lackey, Media Manager)
How to Fish for Walleye on a Slow Bite?
The final and most useful of these 7 Walleye fishing tips is downsizing when the fish are finicky. Downsizing means changing to a smaller weight, jig, and/or bait profile relative to the general technique. You should downsize when all other variables are accounted for and you still aren’t getting bites. For example, if the Walleye bite is hot, you can fish a big 5″ Disc Worm on a 1/4 Oz. jig. However, when the bite is tepid, downsize to an 1/8 Oz. Jig and a 3″ Grub. Taking this example a step further, hard and soft bait lures work best on a big bite because they can be fished fast and aggressively to sort through smaller species. If the bite is slow however, the Walleye aren’t feeding actively, so you shouldn’t fish aggressively. In a slow bite, your best bet is live bait. Start with a 1/4 Oz. Jig and a larger Shiner Minnow. Switch to an 1/8 Oz. Jig and a Crappie Minnow, then smaller bait profiles like a Leech or half a Nightcrawler until you key in on a combination that puts fish in the boat. (Ben Cayer, Writer/Photographer)