Walleyes, a cool water fish found throughout US inland waters, are creatures of the night. Like other nocturnal animals, these great tasting freshwater fish come out in the darkness to feed and get exercise. The murk? Doesn’t bother this fish! Walleyes have strong vision in dimly lit waters which makes them well suited to their switched up schedules.
Catching walleye doesn’t require a big up-front investment. Even though snagging them from the comfort of a boat is more common, it’s not difficult to hook them from the riverbank. What you want to look for is sandy, gravel, or rocky bottoms – not muddy ones. As to where, consider the season. Fall and winter are just about the worst times to pursue this particular fish, no matter where you’re fishing. Walleyes stay deep in the summer, so a boat is usually a must, but if you can get them, they’re big. And in the tail end of winter and early spring, walleyes are busy making their spawning runs up major river tributaries so you’ll likely have plenty of luck with your inshore fishing gear, even in shallow waters or near dams and rapids. Look for rocky outcrops that jut out into deeper water or well-defined weedlines.
As for bait, we recommend live minnows – especially when the water is colder. That’s not to say that you can’t catch plenty of walleyes with plugs and jigs, of course. If you’re not getting a response, though, try adding a colored bead just above your hook – feel free to experiment with different colors – and switching to a fluorocarbon leader. Whatever you’re using, expect not to feel any dramatic action since walleyes tend to strike gently. Feel instead for the sudden extra weight on your line and a slow bucking that signifies a walleye on your hook getting ready for a fight.
No matter how you do it, walleye fishing is a lot of fun and you stand a good chance of landing enough that a catch and release strategy is in order.