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TRAVELING WALLEYES

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  • Traveling walleyes

    by Bob Jensen

    In much of Walleye Country, walleyes are moving from their spring hangouts to their summer locations. This movement usually lasts a couple of weeks. While they’re moving away from their spawning areas and toward summering areas, the fish can be a little difficult to stay on. They will usually be in one spot today and somewhere else a day or two later. Following are some ideas for catching more walleyes during this transition period.

    Keep in mind that male fish usually start biting a little sooner than the females after the spawn. The spawn is more exhausting for the females so they take longer to recover from it. The males will eat a bit during the spawn and really eat right after the spawn. Males are usually smaller than females in the fish world, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch any big fish. You might, but it’s likely that your catch will consist mostly of smaller fish.

    spring walleyeBegin your search for walleyes near the areas where they spawned. Walleyes prefer to spawn on sand or rubble areas that taper gradually. Some current is preferred. After the spawn they’ll linger in the areas for a while before making a big move. Often, they’ll move to the nearest drop-off or emerging weedbed and hang around there for a few days, sometimes even longer.

    Walleyes can be caught by employing several lure presentations during this period. It works well to work fast until the fish are located, then slow down when you have them pinpointed.

    Walleyes will still be shallow, especially in stained water lakes. Casting will often be most productive, but if you prefer trolling or drifting, get your baits away from the boat to prevent spooking. This is even more important in clear water.

    I like to throw a crankbait when searching for walleyes in the shallows, shallows being less than eight feet in depth. If there are a couple of anglers in the boat, they should start with different style crankbaits. A good combination would be something like a Lucky Shad and a KVD Jerkbait. These baits have different actions and different shapes, and at times one action or one shape will be more appealing to the walleyes. When it comes to lure color, start with a natural color in clear water, a brighter color in stained water. However, don’t get stuck on a particular color. Sometimes walleyes will show a color preference. Keep experimenting until the fish show you what color and lure action they want on that day.

    When you find an area that has some fish, and when the aggressive biters have all been caught on the crankbait, work a jig/plastic combination through the area. This slower presentation will take some fish that wouldn’t respond to the crankbait. An eighth or quarter ounce jig rigged with a Rage Swimmer in the smaller sizes is a good start. If they don’t go for that, try a sixteenth or eighth ounce jig tipped with a minnow or leech and work it slower than you did the jig/plastic combo.

    If and when the walleyes quit responding to that presentation, try a leech under a slip-bobber. That set-up will take the walleyes that aren’t interested in chasing down faster moving baits. Or, better yet, go looking for a similar area and show your baits to fish that are more aggressive. After a few fish are caught from an area, the remaining fish can be tough to catch.

    Now and for the next couple of weeks, the walleyes will be moving from their spring areas to their summer areas. If you keep those movements in mind, you can be there waiting for their arrival.

    To see all the most recent episodes of the Fishing the Midwest television series, fishing video tips, and fishing articles from the recent or not-so-recent past, visit fishingthemidwest.com


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