How To Catch Walleye | Tips To Handle

Learning how to catch walleye serves multiple important purposes. It provides culinary delights, contributes to species conservation, offers personal recreation and skill development, fosters a connection with nature, and has positive economic impacts on local communities. 

Walleye are indeed a popular and highly sought-after game fish in North America, and their reputation for both their delectable taste and their challenging nature makes them a favorite target among anglers. Their aggressive feeding habits and elusive behavior add an element of excitement and satisfaction to the pursuit of catching them. 

How To Catch Walleye

Whether you’re casting your line into a serene lake or a winding river, the thrill of a successful walleye catch is not only rewarding but also often leads to a memorable culinary experience. 

We come up with our decades of experience to guide you for strategies, techniques, and tips that can help you master the art of catching walleye, ensuring that your angling adventures are not only challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

Check Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat?


Where to Fish for walleye?

Walleye are found in a variety of freshwater lakes and rivers across North America. They are most common in clear, cold water with abundant baitfish populations.  Some of the best places to find walleye include:

Where to Fish for walleye

Structures:

Walleye are also known to utilize various other types of structures, such as sunken islands, boat docks, and bridge pilings, as hiding spots and hunting grounds.

To find Walleye, look for structures in the water. Structure means special areas with different depths or materials on the lake floor. Walleye likes to hang around these spots. Points, which are parts of the shore that stick out into the lake, are great examples of structure. They can have sandy areas, rocky spots, or even drop-offs where the water gets deeper.

Walleye loves points because they offer different depths in a small area. During the day, they stay in deeper water, and at night, they come closer to the shallower parts to feed. Other signs of structure on the shoreline include bends, turns, and where bays or creeks meet the lake. These are all good places to find Walleye too.

Points

Fishing for walleye on points is a well-established strategy. Points, underwater extensions, are favored walleye spots. Start by studying maps to locate these underwater points, known for their role as transition zones between deep and shallow waters, ideal for walleye feeding. Opt for dawn and dusk for active walleye, using casting techniques with jigs or trolling with diving plugs along point edges. Live bait like minnows works, too. Consider wind direction, weather, and depth variations for success. Patience and adaptability are key to discovering walleye preferences for the day.

Reefs

Reefs are attractive spots for finding walleye. These underwater formations, composed of rocks and hard materials, provide plenty of hiding places for walleye to ambush prey. Reefs offer lure baitfish and small aquatic creatures, making them a feeding hotspot for walleye. They offer versatile depth ranges, allowing walleye to move up and down as needed. Temperature variations around reefs can also make them appealing to walleye. To catch walleye near reefs, use bait or lures resembling local prey, exploring various depths. Dawn and dusk are prime times for walleye activity near reefs.

Rock points

Rock points are prime spots for walleye fishing. These underwater formations, with their rocky terrain extending into the water, attract walleye for several reasons. They provide cover for ambushing prey, act as transition zones between shallow and deep water, create temperature variations that attract baitfish, and offer diverse underwater structures. To catch walleye on rock points, use lures or bait that mimic their natural prey and fish during dawn and dusk when walleye are more active.

Weed beds

Weed beds, or underwater plant growth, are vital in the world of walleye fishing. These aquatic ecosystems serve as prime hunting grounds for walleye. These underwater plant zones provide cover for walleye to ambush prey, attract baitfish, offer oxygen, and regulate temperature. When fishing near weed beds, use bait resembling the local prey and focus on dawn and dusk when walleye are most active.

Drop-offs

Drop-offs are key locations in walleye fishing. These underwater features mark rapid transitions from shallow to deep water, creating prime opportunities for walleye angling. Walleye often use drop-offs as ambush points, waiting for prey to pass by in shallower areas. Temperature variations around drop-offs can attract baitfish and, in turn, walleye. These areas are rich in food sources, providing ample sustenance for walleye. Drop-offs may also serve as migration routes for walleye during different seasons. When fishing near drop-offs, choose the right lures or bait to match the conditions and prey, and target dawn and dusk, when walleye are typically most active in these areas.

Current breaks

Current breaks are key in walleye fishing, often found in flowing waters. These breaks, where the current changes or slows down, serve as ambush spots for walleye waiting for prey carried by the current. They provide shelter from strong currents and attract baitfish, making them prime feeding areas. To succeed in fishing at current breaks, mimic natural prey movement with your bait or lures, adjust depths and speeds, and fish during dawn and dusk when walleye are most active in these spots.



Best time to fish for walleye

The best time to fish for walleye depends on a number of factors, including the season, water temperature, and time of day. However, in general, the best time to fish for walleye is during low-light conditions, such as early morning and late evening. Walleye are also more active in cooler water temperatures, so the spring and fall are typically the best seasons to fish for them.

Best time to fish for walleye

Understanding these seasonal patterns helps anglers target walleye effectively, adjusting their techniques and locations based on the time of year.


How to Catch Walleye in Summer?

In the heat of summer, walleye seek cooler, deeper waters. They often congregate near underwater structures like rocks and weed beds, providing shade and a source of prey. However, there are still some effective ways to catch walleye during this time of year.

How to Catch Walleye in Summer
  • Walleye are most active during low-light conditions, so fishing early in the morning and late in the evening is often the best time to catch them.
  • Walleye tend to move deeper in the summer months to escape the heat. Look for them in areas that are 20 feet deep or deeper.
  • Live bait is often the best way to catch walleye, especially in the summer when they are more lethargic. Try using minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.
  • Trolling is a great way to cover a lot of water and find fish. Use a variety of lures, such as crankbaits, spinners, and live bait rigs.

How to Catch Walleye in Fall

Fall is a great time to fish for walleye. The water temperatures are cooling down, and the fish are starting to move shallower to feed up before the winter. Here are some best ways to catch walleye in the fall:

How to Catch Walleye in Fall
  • Walleye are most active during low-light conditions, so fishing early in the morning and late in the evening is often the best time to catch them.
  • Walleye can be found in shallow water in the fall, especially near spawning grounds. Look for them in areas that are 5-15 feet deep.
  • Walleye like to associate with structures, such as points, reefs, weed beds, and drop-offs. Look for these areas in shallow water.
  • Live bait is often the best way to catch walleye, especially in the fall. Try using minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.
  • Trolling is a great way to cover a lot of water and find fish. Use a variety of lures, such as crankbaits, spinners, and live bait rigs.

How to Fish for Walleye in Winter

During the winter, walleye seek out deep waters to maintain warmth. They often inhabit areas near underwater structures like humps, ridges, and drop-offs. Winter walleye fishing can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Walleye are less active in the winter, but they still need to eat, so they can be caught with the right approach. Here are some tips for winter walleye fishing:

How to Fish for Walleye in Winter
  • Walleye tend to move deeper in the winter months to escape the cold. Look for them in areas that are 20 feet deep or deeper.
  • Live bait is often the best way to catch walleye in the winter. Try using minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.
  • Jigging is a great way to fish for walleye in deep water. Use a jig and minnow combo or a live bait rig.
  • Walleye can be finicky feeders in the winter, so it is important to be patient and try different lures and techniques.

How to Fish for Walleye in Spring

Spring is a great time to fish for walleye. The fish are moving shallower to spawn, and they are often feeding aggressively. Here are some tips for fishing walleye in spring:

How to Fish for Walleye in Spring
  • Walleye can be found in shallow water in the spring, especially near spawning grounds. Look for them in areas that are 5-15 feet deep.
  • Walleye likes to associate with structures, such as points, reefs, weed beds, and drop-offs. Look for these areas in shallow water.
  • Live bait is often the best way to catch walleye, especially in the spring. Try using minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.
  • Jigging is a great way to fish for walleye in shallow water. Use a jig and minnow combo or a live bait rig to fish for Walley.

How to Catch Walleye? By Walleye Fishing Techniques

There are many different ways to catch walleye, but some of the most popular techniques include:

How to Catch Walleye By Walleye Fishing Techniques

Jigging for Walleye: 

Jigging is a fishing technique where an angler uses a weighted jig, typically with a hook and a bait or lure, to entice fish. The angler imparts a series of jerky or rhythmic movements to the jig, causing it to move up and down or side to side in the water, mimicking the movement of prey. This action attracts fish, such as walleye, by triggering their predatory instincts. 

Jigging can be done vertically, by dropping the jig straight down and lifting it, or by casting and retrieving the jig in a way that imitates wounded or fleeing prey, making it a versatile and effective method for catching a variety of species.

How to Troll for Walleye?

Trolling is a fishing technique where an angler trails baited lines or lures behind a moving boat. The boat’s forward motion drags the bait or lures through the water at a controlled speed, typically ranging from slow to moderate. This technique allows anglers to cover a large area of water to locate and entice fish that are actively feeding or traveling. 

Trolling can be used for a wide range of fish species, including salmon, trout, walleye, and more. It often involves the use of specialized trolling rods and reels, downriggers, planer boards, and various types of lures or bait to simulate natural prey and attract fish. The speed, depth, and lure selection are adjusted based on the target species and the conditions of the water being fished.

Casting for Walleye: 

Casting is a good way to target walleye in shallow water, such as weed beds and drop-offs. Casting is a fundamental and widely-used fishing technique that involves an angler using a fishing rod and reel to accurately propel their bait, lure, or baited hook and sinker combination into the water. It requires a combination of skill and precision.

Casting allows anglers to cover a variety of fishing scenarios, whether they want to present their bait in a precise spot or employ a more active approach by casting and retrieving lures to mimic the movement of prey. The success of casting depends on factors like accuracy, distance, and the choice of bait or lure. This technique is suitable for catching a wide range.

Rigging and bottom bouncing for walleye:

To catch a Walleye rigging depends on factors like season and water conditions. Key principles include using sharp hooks, selecting the right leader material (fluorocarbon for clear water, monofilament for murky), and allowing your lure to move naturally. A versatile walleye rig involves a 2-3 foot, 10-12 pound test monofilament leader tied to your braided line, a barrel swivel, and your chosen walleye lure. This setup works well with jigs, crankbaits, and spinner rigs.

To bottom bounce for walleye, cast and let your rig sink, then reel in the slack line and troll slowly while keeping your rod low to feel the bottom bouncer. If it gets stuck, reel up the slack and lift the rod tip. When you feel a bite, set the hook. Experiment with lures, colors, speeds, and depths, and be patient and persistent for better walleye catches year-round.


Walleye Fishing Gears: Walleye fishing Tackles:

Many walleye anglers, like myself, have different rod and reel setups designed for specific fishing techniques such as jigging, casting, trolling, and bait-rigging. However, when I first began fishing for walleye, I caught plenty of them using a simple setup: a 6-foot, 6-inch medium spinning rod, a 2500-sized reel, and an 8-pound monofilament line. If you’re just starting, there’s no need to spend excessively on fishing gear. 

It’s worth noting that the quality of your equipment often reflects its price. So, it’s a good idea to save up and invest in higher-quality gear because it tends to perform better and last longer in the long run.

There are a few key pieces of gear that are essential for any walleye angler.

Walleye Fishing Rods:

For walleye fishing, a medium-length (6.5 to 7.5 feet) rod with medium power and moderate to fast action is a versatile choice. Graphite or graphite composite rods are preferred for their sensitivity, while cork or EVA foam handles offer comfort and grip. Ensure the rod’s line rating matches your chosen fishing line (typically 6-12 lb test), and consider technique-specific rods for specialized methods like jigging or trolling. 

Walleye Fishing Rods

A good walleye jigging rod is typically shorter, around 5.5 to 6.5 feet, for better control. It should have medium-light to medium power, fast to extra-fast action for sensitivity, and effective hook sets. Look for high-quality line guides, materials like graphite, comfortable handles, and a matching line rating of 6-10 lb test. 

Trolling rods are typically longer, ranging from 7 to 10 feet or more, and medium to medium-heavy power with a moderate to moderate-fast action is a common choice for versatility.

Spinning rods offer versatility for various walleye fishing techniques, making them a solid choice for both beginners and experienced anglers. Consider a medium-light to medium-power rod with a fast or extra-fast action. A length of around 6.5 to 7.5 feet strikes a good balance between casting distance and control. The rod’s line rating should match your preferred fishing line, typically in the 6-10 lb test range. 

Fishing Reels:

When choosing a reel to catch walleye, opt for a versatile spinning reel, matched to your fishing line (usually 6-12 lb test) and providing ample line capacity. Look for a moderate gear ratio for a good balance of speed and power, a smooth and adjustable drag system, and multiple ball bearings for smooth operation. Durability is key, so select a reel made from corrosion-resistant materials if fishing in challenging conditions. Spinning reels offer ease of use and versatility for various walleye fishing techniques.

Fishing Reels

Look for a reel with a moderate to high gear ratio (around 6.4:1 or higher) to quickly retrieve the line when needed. A smooth and adjustable drag system is essential to handle walleye’s subtle bites and sudden runs. Opt for a reel with quality ball bearings for smooth operation and a comfortable handle for extended jigging sessions. 

Trolling reels are built to withstand the demands of trolling and provide features such as line counter mechanisms, which help anglers track the amount of lines deployed. A trolling reel should have a smooth drag system and a low gear ratio. 

When considering a casting reel for walleye fishing, prioritize features like a moderate gear ratio (around 6.4:1 to 7.1:1), adequate line capacity for 8-12 lb test lines, and an adjustable braking system to prevent backlash. A smooth and adjustable drag system is crucial for handling walleye, and multiple ball bearings contribute to smoother operation. 

Baitcasting reels are favored by experienced anglers for their ability to handle heavier lines and lures, making them a reliable choice for walleye jigging.

Walleye Fishing Lines:

Many walleye anglers have adopted modern braided lines, but monofilament and fluorocarbon lines remain popular choices in most fishing scenarios. When casting spinners, spoons, jigging, or using slip bobbers with live bait, 8- or 10-pound monofilament or a nearly invisible 12-pound fluorocarbon line work well. 

However, these can also be substituted with a 10-pound braided line when used alongside a quality fluorocarbon leader. For trolling, reels are commonly spooled with a 10- or 12-pound low-visibility braided line, paired with a fluorocarbon leader for added stealth and effectiveness. The choice between these lines depends on your fishing style and the specific conditions of your angling environment.

Baits, Lures, Jigs, and Rigs For Fishing Walleye:

Walleye fishing can be highly productive with the right baits, lures, and jigs. The best choice often depends on factors like the time of year, water conditions, and the specific location you’re fishing. Here are some popular baits, lures, and jigs for walleye fishing:

Baits, Lures, Jigs and Rigs For Fishing Walleye
  • Nightcrawlers: Nightcrawlers are versatile and effective live bait for walleye fishing. They can be rigged on a variety of setups, such as slip bobbers or spinner rigs.
  • Minnows: Fathead minnows or shiners are excellent choices, especially in colder water or when walleye are finicky.
  • Leeches: Leeches are another live bait option that walleye find irresistible, particularly in the warmer months.
  • Jigs: Jigs are a popular choice for walleye fishing. A leadhead jig tipped with live bait or a soft plastic trailer can be deadly effective. Jig weights and colors should be adjusted based on water depth and visibility.
  • Crankbaits: Shallow-running and deep-diving crankbaits imitate injured baitfish, making them enticing to walleye. Choose colors that match the local forage.
  • Spinnerbaits: Spinnerbaits with Colorado or willowleaf blades can create flash and vibration, attracting walleye in various conditions.
  • Soft Plastics: Twister tails, paddle tails, and worm-style plastics can be rigged on jigs or spinner rigs. They come in various colors and sizes to mimic different prey species.
  • Jigging Spoons: Spoons like the Jigging Rapala or Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons are effective for vertical jigging in deeper water or when walleye are suspended. They create both flash and noise.
  • Rigs:
  • Bottom Bouncers and Spinner Rigs: Bottom bouncers with spinner rigs are great for covering large areas of the bottom. They allow you to troll or drift with live bait or soft plastics at varying depths.

Electronics to Catch Walleye:

Electronics are indispensable for successful walleye fishing. They enable you to pinpoint fish, recognize underwater structures, and monitor water conditions like temperature and depth, all of which are crucial for walleye anglers. 

These tools use sonar to scan the water column, revealing suspended walleyes or those near structures. Identifying key structures like reefs and points is vital, as walleyes often congregate around them. 

Electronics to Catch Walleye

Monitoring temperature and depth helps you target the right areas. Some advanced electronics even offer GPS integration, side imaging, and down imaging for precise fish location and detailed underwater views. To maximize your walleye catch, invest in quality electronics, and practice using them to your advantage.


frequently asked question

How to catch walleye at night?

To catch walleye at night, choose a suitable location near structures like points or drop-offs, use live bait or lures such as jigs and crankbaits, pay attention to moonlight conditions, consider lighted bobbers for visibility, move quietly, and be patient. Twilight hours around dusk and dawn can also be productive for walleye fishing. Prioritize safety when night fishing by informing someone of your plans and wearing appropriate gear.

When do walleye bite the best?

Walleye bite best during low light periods, such as dawn and dusk, and at night, especially under a full moon. They are also more active in cooler water temperatures, typically between 55°F and 68°F (13°C to 20°C), and often prefer areas with water movement. Spring pre-spawn and post-spawn periods, as well as the fall feeding frenzy, are prime times to target them. 


My Final Thoughts: A few key things to Catch Walleye

How to catch Walleye successfully, requires a combination of knowledge, strategy, and adaptability. Utilizing the right bait or lure, such as live minnows, leeches, soft plastics, or crankbaits, is crucial to enticing these opportunistic feeders. 

Identifying the right locations, whether in deep waters near structures like rocks, weeds, drop-offs, or shallow areas during low-light conditions, is key to finding walleye. Additionally, mastering the right presentation techniques, including erratic retrieves to mimic unsuspecting prey, can significantly improve your walleye fishing game. By incorporating these tips and techniques, you’ll increase your chances of reeling in more walleye and enjoying a successful day on the water.

Similar Posts