There are three
secrets to catching walleyes (at least): fish on the bottom; fish
slowly; and use night crawlers. The first two of these are the most
important. Walleyes stay close to the bottom, and they don’t spend a
lot of energy chasing their food. The most consistent fishing depth
during daytime is 18 to 25 feet. Rocky bottoms are usually preferred,
with a nearby depth change or “breakline” a desirable feature. Good
catches can also be made in or around weed beds at certain times.
A good walleye rig is one that can be cast or trolled slowly along
the bottom without getting hung up too often. Although not necessary, a
stout wire leader 12 inches above the hook will protect the line from
abrasive rocks, and will keep the walleye’s sharp teeth from cutting
the line once the fish is hooked. But heavy leader may also make your
offering less attractive to the fish.
Many kinds of lures, jigs, spinners and spoons will fool walleyes,
with most of them being much more effective if a live night crawler is
attached. Trollers will often put a worm on a stout, sharp 1/0 hook
attached to a flashy spinner with a wire leader tied to a good swivel.
Eighteen inches in front of the swivel they will put a small split shot
that will keep a one to two-ounce barrel weight in place. Casters must
use a lure that is heavy enough to sink rapidly to the bottom.
Large deep-diving plugs are also a popular and productive technique.
These are usually in bright colors that will show up in the depths, and
are trolled without any bait attached.
Whatever bait or lure is used, it’s important to fish very slowly.
Some anglers even troll in reverse (when it is safe to do so) to get
their speed down to what a walleye will chase. Once a walleye is caught,
continue fishing the same area. Where there is one there will usually be
more. Also make note of the bottom or “structure” and look for fish
in similar habitat.
One final tip is to keep the hooks razor sharp. In addition to a
mouthful of teeth, walleyes have a hard, bony palate to protect
themselves from the spines of the fish they eat. A sharp hook is
mandatory to getting a solid hookup.