Art by Ed Luterio

This guide is dedicated to learning how to catch walleye with bait and lures including some of the best walleye fishing tips and techniques. Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish indigenous to the majority of Canada and to the Northern United States. It happens to be a North American close relative of the European pikeperch. The walleye may also be known as the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, which is a subspecies available in the southern Ontario as well as Quebec regions.

The typical designation, “walleye”, comes from the fact that the walleyes’s eyes aim outward, as if looking at the walls. In medical science, the expression “walleyed” (compared to “cross-eyed”) is utilized to refer to lateral strabismus, wherein the pupil deviates outward. This outwardly facing positioning of the eyes provides fishermen a benefit at night since there is a definite eyeshine given off by the eyeball of the walleye in the dark, much like that of deer when light is directed to their eyes at night.  This “eyeshine” is the result of a light-gathering strata in the eyes known as the tapetum lucidum, which allows the walleye to see efficiently in low-light conditions. Moreover, many fishers watch out for walleyes at night because this is when considerable feeding patterns happen. 

Walleyes develop to about eighty cm (31 inches) in length, and can weigh up to around 9 kg (20 pounds). The highest recorded size for this species of fish is 107 cm (42 inches) in length and 11.3 kilograms (twenty-five pounds) in weight. Walleyes are principally olive and gold in color.  The dorsal region of a walleye is olive, grading into a golden shade on the flanks. The olive/gold pattern is broken up by five darker saddles that extend to the upper sides. The coloring shades to white-colored on the belly. The mouth area of a walleye is big which is armed with many razor-sharp teeth.


 Walleye will generally be found in groups of a few to several fish. If you catch one, there are likely others close by. It is possible to catch walleye on a variety of live bait (nightcrawlers, minnows, shinerss), lures (jigs, spoons,crankbaits and others) and/or a combo of the 2. The ideal selections vary, depending upon the particular time of the year, water and available prey equipment. Fish specific location and activity is among the vital factors in each season, because walleye are found in different habitats within every single time period. The specific location of Walleye during these calendar periods of time is dependent on the time of year and depending on that the perfect tips for advancing your walleye catch can be given.

Late Winter and Early Spring

Walleye Fishing

All through late winter and early springtime months, walleye that inhabit lakes congregate close to or in tributaries and along rocky banks in preparing for spawning. Stream fish are going to concentrate in pools close to routine spawning shoals and other rocky structures. During this time of year,attempt fishing slow-moving stick baits, shiners or jig or minnow combos. During the time period when fish move into shallow water, especially in clear water lakes and streams, they generally bite better at after dark than in the daytime..


When the temperatures warms up, walleye relocate to the deeper water and structure. In big reservoirs, you will often find fish at or near the thermocline (25-35 ft). Rocky points, shorelines and drop-offs close to submerged river channels are the best places. In streams, deeper pools with underwater logs and rocks make the perfect place to start off the search. Walleye spawn when the water temperature fluctuates from 42 deg to 54 deg F. Angling is invariably lousy within this period. The best you are able to expect is some male fish that hangs around the spawning areas. This is usually along the face of a dam or close to channel structure, natural rock reefs, gravel bars, and occasionally over flooded aquatic plant life.  After spawning is finished, walleye leave from the breeding grounds. Some of the males remain at the spawning area, possibly expecting late ripening of females. Fishing in the post-spawn is tough because of this dispersal as well as the fact that there is physiological recuperation from the rigors of spawning. This resting time period lasts from 1 to 3 weeks and feeding level is at a minimal.

Spring Angling Techniques for Walleye

Use fairly lightweight weight monofilament line.  Many walleye fishermen utilize 2-lb test line, a slow-moving retrieve, and natural baits are major factors in catching walleye at this time. Very sensitive rods made from modern day materials like graphite are beneficial in detecting light strikes. In big rivers, back-trolling utilizing a three way rig is most effective. On certain days walleye seem to favor a plain, standard shank hook with a minnow, while on others the addition of two or three red-colored or chartreuse beads forward of the hook works superior. Whenever the fish are active and hovering off the bottom, a floating jig or soft, plastic yarn floater is definitely more effective. Regardless of what bait is utilized, the three-way rig ought to be fished in a “yo-yo” motion, alternately uplifting the rod tip, hesitating, and then lowering the bait — continually letting it touch the bottom. Always set the hook as fast as a strike is felt, and do not allow slack in the line.

Occasionally walleye get a behavior of striking short, as a result the minnow or lure will have cut marks on the body. Rigging of a “stinger” hook will often dictate the difference in fishing results. This rigging is accomplished by affixing a number 10 or 12 treble hook to a principle, single shank hook with a shorter length of 10 lb test monofilament.

An additional technique for fishing big river walleye in the spring is to gently drift in a boat with the current through deep fish holding reaches. Lightly colored leadheads in fluorescent colors, dressed up with a small minnow or night crawler, or a jigging type sonar or sonic lure are extremely valuable on light gear. Drop the lure right to the bottom and then raise it one or two ft which enables it to return to the bottom. Fluctuate the height of the jig as well as the cycles of upward motion.

An important part of the pre-spawn process is moving upstream until the path is obstructed by a lowhead dam or somewhat similar barrier. At this point the fish concentrate in the tailwaters, especially in small eddies and backwaters, as well as in the current breaks of the overflow. Leadhead and minnow combos have great results for walleye if they are cast cross current and retrieved slow with a pulling action by alternately elevating and lowering the rod. Where the water is deep, usually in the pools, back- trolling or casting the rod with a spinner and minnow bait or a slip sinker  type rig will also be effective.

Springtime angling in lakes, both natural and man-made, call for basically the same techniques to locate and catch walleye. Fish are generally congregated close to structures, invariably over shallow shoals like stone reefs, prominent land areas, as well as the face along a dam. The most reliable fishing method is leisurely back trolling utilizing a slip sinker and minnow combo. This rig will permit a walleye to take the bait and move off without sensing the additional weight of the sinker. Several different methods are used to build a slip-sinker rig. The slip-sinker is quite versatile which enable it to be utilized in other calendar time periods also with only slight changes and different bait.

Slip sinker rigs are correctly fished in the following way. Take out a sufficient amount of line so the sinker hits the bottom. With a very slow back and forth movement, pull the sinker from the bottom, after that allow it settle back down. With spinning gear, get the bail in an open position and hold the line with the finger. The strike is usually light ,  merely a short twitch in the line. When the strike takes place, allow the line to reel off the reel until it stops, count to about  5 or 10, then close the bail.  When the line tightens set the hook. The count may have to be varied to adapt to lighter or more aggressive strikes, nevertheless the results should be the same.

Sometimes during the spring period, walleye move into very shallow depths, especially after darkness. In clear water a simple way to locate fish would be to shine a bright light into water. Light reflecting in their pupils will give away their position, however it also spooks the fish, therefore don’t overdo it. The best way to catch these types of fish is by long line trolling a crank bait or minnow plug type lure 150 ft or greater behind the boat. Silently wading in the shallows and casting a leadhead, crank bait, or minnow plug is also effective. 


Summer season can offer some of the most consistent angling patterns and activity. It is during this time period that walleye enthusiastically bite throughout the day and frequently best while in the mid-day hrs.

Summer Angling Techniques for Walleye

Angling methods for walleye  tend to be more varied in summer time compared to other seasons. Back trolling and using slip sinker rig is the best method of finding fish. Start your fishing journey by using bait-fish, yet always carry a few night crawlers or leeches. Instead of a plain hook, it will be on occasion better to add shaded beads or a spinner blade in one of the brilliant fluorescent shades. Sometimes when the fish are utilizing heavy cover like weeds or stumps it may be essential to use a slip bobber rig, which is most effective whenever fished with all-natural bait in snag prone locations. Special jig heads which stay at a 45 deg angle when on the bottom and tipped with a large minnow, may very well produce walleye when others fail.

Whenever walleye are involved in aquatic vegetation, the most effective methods for night-time angling is long-lining with a minnow formed floater, diver plug, or a night crawler on a harness. Let out 110 to 140 ft of line and troll the bait over the weed line so that it occasionally touches the vegetation. At nighttime cast crank baits over shallow bars, land areas and stone reefs for walleye. This type of casting performs equally well by wading as it will from a boat.

A well known method for walleye fishing is speed trolling. Deep diving crank-baits are fished over stone bars and reefs, along overflowed river channels and submerged roadways in 8 to twelve ft of water at a consistent speed of 3 to 5 mph. Walleye generally strike this lure when it bumps off submerged structures.  Word of caution:  whenever speed trolling loosen the reel drag because hooked fish stop the plug suddenly in the water, and if the drag is set overly tight, the line will break.

Angling for walleye in reservoirs utilizing other techniques, like shoreline wading, may times be effective in summer time, providing you will find the fish. Most beneficial recommendations appear to be night angling close to rocks, at hard-bottomed land points, or near submerged road beds.  Casting with a lead head tipped with a bait fish or other all-natural bait is the most successful technique.

Wing dams as well as dike fields are best possible spots for walleye in the Great Border Rivers. Your most valuable methods for fishing these kinds of structures is back trolling with a minnow plug type lure or a night crawler on a slip-sinker or three-way rig. Stay approximately thirty feet above the structure and fish along the face of the dam, using just enough weight so the bait touches the rocks. As soon as the sinker touches bottom, lift it with a slow sweep of the rod, and then let it sink once again. Carry on this sweeping action across the whole length of the structure. Some wing dams are better compared to others. In the event that no fish are landed after 15 to 20 minutes, move to another spot.

Walleye fishing in rivers in summer season is consistently better in the deep pools and scour holes as quick as possible downstream from riffles and lowhead dams. Fishing with a slip-sinker rig or a leadhead tipped with a night crawler or plastic lure during low light periods will most likely end with fish on the stringer. Begin fishing in the head end up the pool and fish it thoroughly, then slowly but surely move to the deepest area of the pool. Utilize the lure or bait along the bottom while using a pumping motion, alternately lifting and then lowering the rod tip. Minnows and leeches usually work nicely for walleye, and don’t forget to try out a small crawfish for bait.

Early summer season fishing is usually best and then gradually tapers off until late summer season when walleye fishing becomes more difficult on account of an abundance of all-natural forage. Don’t be afraid to try out different baits. Change your presentation, as well as look for alternate spots to fish when you don’t catch fish. Walleye are present, but lots of times they can be extremely selective in their feeding habits or not active

Late Fall and Winter

Walleye patterns characteristically become less distinct during the late fall period and winter time. Try to find walleye close to deep water and structure, a lot of forage items, as well as any kind of areas that get considerable inflow from streams and tributaries. Colder water temps along with the fish’s reduced metabolism indicate that you should fish baits and lures a lot more slowly compared to during the rest of the season.

Winter Fishing Techniques for Walleye

Angling methods in the winter time differ little from those in the fall. Lake fishing is the most effective while fishing with a minnow or even chub and by vertical jigging a spoon or similar lure. The gear is simple; ice auger, short rod, ice strainer and bait or lures. Either live bait as well as jigging lures needs to be fished within eighteen in of the bottom. With minnows refrain from the desire to set the hook immediately when the bobber disappears, for walleye frequently move a short distance before swallowing the bait. It is usually the best idea to utilize the lightest line and weight and the littlest bobber practical to decrease resistance. Jigging lures should be lowered straight to the bottom and then jerked in the upward direction in a rapid motion with the wrist allowing the lure to flutter to the bottom. Be attentive all the time because most strikes come when the lure is descending. In the event that fishing is slow, tip the hook with a fish eyeball, a small bit of white belly meat, or even a tiny minnow. Some walleye fishermen prefer tip-ups to the traditional type of fishing gear in winter, especially when fishing is slow.

Sometimes anglers just simply continue to fish from boats directly below dams and also channel structures out in the open water. Fishing methods and gear are identical with that in the springtime and fall.

Trolling may well be the most popular technique used for walleye. Crankbaits that will dive to a variety of depths can be appealing to fish placed along the edge of habitat or along a bank. Live bait rigged with a “bottom-bouncer” are often slowly drawn near to the bottom exactly where walleye are normally located. However, there are times, particularly when fishing near or in woody or some other submerged habitat, a vertical presentation of a jig, minnow, or spoon is the best method to fish and reduce hang-ups.

There have been numerous tips and techniques given for learning how to catch walleye fish, which included tips on walleye fishing baits and lures.  However, what has been covered is basically the basics and there is much more to be known to be a pro.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus: Click Here To See Old School Walleye Fishing Program!

Below are some resources to help further your knowledge:

walleye411 – Great site for learning about catching walleye.

walleye fishing wikipedia - Wikipedia is an excellent source for information on walleye fishing.

Video on walleye fishing tips

Video with great tips and tactics for catching walleye:

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