Knowing how to catch walleye means understanding their behavior in a variety of different settings and situations. Of course, this fishing for walleye tips page will grow over the coming months.
Most rivers hold populations of walleye year-round. However, they do move about between different staging and holding areas depending on season and conditions. So, it’s important to know where they are according to your locale and time you intend to fish walleye. For example, some walleyes may prefer to remain in lakes and only take to the river during spawning season.
Dams, rock piles, underwater structures, sunken islands, and logjams are all spots where walleyes like to gather.
River walleyes can be taken in water as deep as 25 feet, though many rivers never reach that kind of depth. They can also be caught where they set up to feed, either in shallow riffles or the holes gouged out directly in front of them.
Early in the spring, walleyes like to hang out close to shore or near sandbars. Weed beds or rocky points are also favorite spots for them to congregate, because they are likely close to sand, where walleyes prefer to spawn. Just before the spawning period, walleyes are particularly aggressive. If your timing is right, the chances of landing multiple fish are high.
Once summer arrives and the water warms, the larger walleyes will go deeper or hide in the weeds during daylight hours. This is a good time to fish the holes, right off the bottom. When the sun goes down, they will again move into the shallows to feed.
Walleyes are also known to suspend in deeper, open water at a depth of their preferred temperature range, generally between 15 and 25 feet. The big ones like to hang out in these areas, so this is where you stand a good chance at catching one of those trophy sized prizes.
This can be a great time for fishing for walleyes, but you’ll need to know where to be and then make the proper bait choices. The walleye spring season can be broken into three parts, pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. The timing of the pre-spawn period is linked to water temperature. In the earliest part of spring, when the water approaches the 40° mark, walleyes will migrate to their spawning areas. This is a time when they are most aggressive and they will hit on almost any bait. The walleye’s favorite baitfish are likely hanging out in the shallows, so try fishing these areas in the dawn or dusk hours or at night.
Walleyes are too preoccupied during the spawning period, so this time may not be particularly productive for the angler. If you know when spawning has begun in your area, you can lay off for 2 to 4 weeks until the post-spawn period begins.
The post spawn stretch is also a challenging time to catch walleye, largely because the females are too tired from spawning to feed much. The males will eat more, but they aren’t particularly aggressive either, so bait presentation and patience are very important. Attaching live bait to a jig and fishing it very slowly will help pique ol’ marble eye’s interest to go for the easy meal.
Summer’s heat and abundant sunshine will drive the light-sensitive walleyes into deeper waters, holes, under weed beds or other shelters. Again, the hours around dawn and dusk to well into the night are the best times to try your luck.
Come fall when the weather begins to cool, walleyes seek out warmer water where they can also find enough food to tide them over the winter. Fish the deeper pools, especially where a sharp river-bend, or large rocks, logs, or other obstructions create a current break. The slower water at the breaks is warm enough for the walleye’s comfort and also a great spot from which it can snag any prey floating by.
Everything slows down in winter. The walleyes become sedentary and feed less often. They keep pretty much to the same areas as they do in fall, generally the deepest water. They also remain in their usual habit of feeding during the dawn and dusk hours.