You don’t have to be a professional angler to learn how to catch walleye. But, you should know that this particular fish species is tricky. The hardest part would be to locate them.
In this walleye fishing 101, we’ll teach you where they like swimming, their feeding habits, preferred water conditions, and the baits to use to help you catch them.
The right presentation, rigs, bait, and techniques will help you come up with the best way to fish for walleye. With the right strategy and some patience, you’ll achieve great success.
Walleye Fishing Basics
When learning how to catch walleye, you need to know where walleye are widely distributed. They are native to Canada and the Northern US. They live in a variety of bodies of water like natural and man-made lakes, streams, and rivers with cool temperatures.
The favorite places of walleye include sand, rock, gravel, and clay bottoms along underwater structures. Although they linger at the deepest part of clear waters, you’d still be able to find them on water columns and in waters with low to moderate clarity.
Walleye prefer water with a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees, but they are still active even in much colder water temperatures.
Walleye Species Behavior
Walleye fishing for beginners can be made easier with learning how the species behaves and finding the ultimate strike zone. They are sensitive to bright, intense light.
It’s, therefore, best to test out what you’ve learned on how to catch walleye by fishing on an overcast day, at dusk, or dawn. As for the feeding habits of walleye, they eat other fish, most especially minnow and yellow perch.
They feed in shallow waters around dusk and dawn. If you find an area that has a lot of vegetation, then it’s likely walleye are hiding there. During the day, they are likely to be around weeds.
Walleye usually spawn during spring. Across the US and Canada, there are regulations on walleye ice fishing during the spawning season. Make sure you check relevant laws and regulations in your area before you head out.
Walleye move to deeper water; however, they’ll still come out to shallow waters for food. Expect the best strike zone to be in between 10 to 30 ft deep.
How to Catch Walleye
Walleye swim in the depths and the shallows, as well as in open water and around weeds.
That being said, there are various techniques you can use to get great results:
You may be wondering, what do you use to catch walleye with the jigging technique? You can use soft plastics and live bait. Jigging is a popular technique for catching walleye.
It’s when you present bait at the bottom while making vertical jerks. Jigs are lead sinkers with hooks molded into them. Jigging can be from a dock, the shore, or boat. If you’re on the shore, try aiming for sandy, rocky bottoms and along the weedline.
To jig for walleye, let your baits hit the bottom, then bounce the jigs every 3 or 5 seconds. Lift for about a foot, drop, pause for one second, then repeat.
If you’ll be using plastics rather than live bait, they will be more effective in rivers during the fall wherein there’s strong current and walleye are more active. Make sure you experiment how you’re moving your jigs but keep lures a foot or two off the bottom.
Cast and Retrieve
When walleye move at dusk to dawn to the shallows, try the method of cast and retrieve. It works best by the shore and around structures such as logs, rocks, vegetation, and more.
Tie the lure or bait to the line then cast out. A natural-colored lure will work best. When you cast out, that’s the time you start the retrieve.
Walleye around the area will likely be right at the bottom. Let the lure or bait sink. You can try standing on a dock or on the shore if you won’t be on a boat.
To drop shot, simply put weight to your fishing line then add a bait and hook above it.
The weight will give you control over the location where your lure will hang in the water. It’s good for walleye that are swimming at the bottom.
This technique is also effective as you can move the live bait slowly, making it realistic for the suspicious fish. Hitting the bottom will kick up sediment – known to attract walleye.
The drifting technique for catching walleye is when you drag a rig that’s at the bottom. Basically, it’s bottom fishing with movement. It’s traditionally done on a boat as you’re allowing currents and winds to move you across the water.
Take note: speed matters with drifting for walleye. Going too slow and/or too fast will make it harder for you to fish walleye. When high speed is an issue, slow down using a weight or heavier lure.
Drifting is an excellent technique when locating fish within a massive body of water, especially when you don’t have GPS or sonar. In general, live bait rigs will work best.
In this article, we explored how to catch walleye for beginners. Whether you’ll be fishing in a stream, river, or one of the great lakes, walleye are among the most prized species as they present a challenge even to seasoned anglers. As a bonus, they are incredibly delicious!
The best walleye angler is practiced, patient, experimental, and has an open mind. Try out different techniques, lines, baits, rigs, and rods as all of them will affect your walleye fishing success. Regardless of the reason and season you’ll target walleye, learning and failing are crucial parts of your experience.
Just remember to persevere as when you do find success, it will be all the more fulfilling and invigorating!