Knowing how to fish for walleye is something that most midwestern anglers are familiar with. Chances are if you have ever gone walleye fishing, you know the value of the elusive walleye. It seems to be every North Country fisherman's holy grail. 'Ole Marble Eyes may be the most prized fish in the North, but it may also be the most challenging to catch. Walleyes are known for their finicky nature and many anglers consider it a good outing if they boat just two or three 'eyes. If you are new to the walleye scene, fear not. With a little research and know-how, you can be putting walleye in the boat on a consistent basis.
Walleye Fishing 101: Understanding The Walleye
The fish part of being successful in anything is understanding your subject. The same goes for walleye fishing. In order to master these creatures you must first learn about them, their habitat, habits, feeding patterns, and more. It is not enough to buy the right gear and be on the right lakes if you don't know where to find walleye. Start with seasonal patterns. Learn how walleye move from shallow to deep and back again in both lakes and rivers. This is a highly-in-depth topic that cannot be covered in the short length of just one article. Simply conduct a Google search and you can be caught up on all-things walleye in no time. If you understand the fish, you have already won.
Walleye Fishing 101: Live bait Vs. Artificial
Once you understand the fish and know where to attempt to find them, you must understand your tackle options. Anglers choose from either live bait or artificial lures or even a combination of both. Go to your local Cabelas or Bass Pro Shops and ask around about the hottest lures or baits for where you want to fish. Also ask about rod selection relative to their lure suggestions. The staff at these retailers are usually field experts and will recommend some combination of spinning and baitcasting rods. Depending on the time of year they may also recommend anything from live bait harnesses to slip bobber setups, crankbaits, jigs, or others. It is important to know that although your options may appear to be endless, you don't need most of the fancy gizmos you see in order to put fish in the boat. Oftentimes simpler is better.
Shore Vs Boat Angling
Lastly, you need to ask yourself if you will be fishing from the shore of a boat. As you can imagine, the lure presentations for each can differ. Crankbaits are a great option for both shore and boat fishing while bottom-bouncers with live bait are typically only effective from a boat. Shore fishing limits your options as an angler and although a boat is a luxury, it is definitely preferable for walleye fishing.
Walleye Fishing 101: Be Relentless
Once you understand the fish and their movements, have a few pieces of the right gear and tackle, and know the presentation you want to try you are ready to target walleye. Remember, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. Walleye are difficult to catch and many anglers spend their entire lives after a just few trophy fish. If your first lure presentation, tactic, or location doesn't work, don't be afraid to switch it up. It is oftentimes after the third, fourth, or fifth presentation or color of the day that you get your first bite.
Updated September 28th, 2021 at 9:44 AM CT