If you love ice fishing, you may be considering going out to fish for walleyes. Catching it will not be as easy as you will want it to be. But these tips will make increase your chances of succeeding on the lake.
You should note, however, that fishing on one lake will differ from another since the conditions on these lakes differ. Some are deeper, others have more transparent waters, the structure, and habitat may also differ. What this means is that, even if you are familiar with one lake, the experience will be different if you try fishing on another one.
Here are some tips to make it easier for you to catch walleye in the winter.
Get a map
You need to know the structure of the water first. A detailed contour map can help you out. Look for faster drop-offs on the map. They are indicated by closely packed lines on the map. You can start fishing for walleyes on the drop-offs, reefs, and points. They love to swim across the lake contours. These areas remain sweet spots all year round. You can purchase maps online, and in local bait shops. If you want a free copy, visit the Department of Natural Resources in your community. When you visit the local bait shop, use the opportunity to ask them about the current ice conditions. They usually have reliable information about it.
Don’t start with the deep waters just yet
If you start your winter fishing during the early winter period, you should begin with shallow points. This is particularly true for shallow waters. Most of the walleyes will move into deep holes during mid-winter. They tend to move to spawn areas around the end of March. These are the time to focus on these areas.
Get familiar with the lake
There are lots of things you need to do before going out to fish. Apart from knowing the structure and contour of the lake, get to know the areas to find sandy humps and deep holes. These are sweet spots for walleyes. It does not matter if you are really used to that lake or you are new to it.
Best time to fish for walleyes
The best time to go fishing for walleyes is at sunrise or sunset. At these times, the fish will be looking for food. They are sensitive to light, and the change of light that happens during sunrise and sunset causes them to feed aggressively. But you need to arrive at least an hour earlier so that you can set up. Walleyes get spooked easily, and you will not want them to swim away while you are fishing. Use the first hour to drill all the holes with an electric ice auger you will need for the day. When you drill the holes beforehand, you will reduce the noise created from drilling holes. This will help you to fish quietly.
Adapt to the mood of the walleyes
It is difficult to identify the mood of the walleyes at a point in time. They are fastidious about what they eat and the time they eat. They can become aggressive one moment, and the next moment, they are calm. Their mood will determine the kind of presentation that moves them. Since you cannot identify their mood right away to know the presentation that will work, alternate your presentations. You need at least two options; try shiners of different sizes and fathead minnows. Use varying speeds in your presentation.
Baiting the walleyes
If you are catching fish in holes in deep waters, you can use jigs, flash lures, and search baits. They work best in these waters, and you have a better chance of attracting the fish with them. If you are fishing on featureless seas, you need to use noise and vibrations to attract the fish. Use a lipless crankbait to get the attention of the fish. When the walleyes hear and see the crankbaits, it will go over to check. They may bump into the lure if they are aggressive. These bumps can get them where you want them. If you have a sonar screen, you can also watch on silently. The fish may just inspect the lure but will not try to bump into it. The kinds of baits that gets these types of fish to bite includes a jig tipped with a salted shiner, lively minnow, and scented soft plastic minnow. This setup should be hanging a foot away from the bottom, preferably a few feet away from another hole.
If you are fishing for walleyes in the tailraces, use baits that will reach the bottom quickly. This is because the fish loves to attach itself to the bottom. An ideal type of bait is a minimum of one-ounce jig head with a plastic curly-tail grab. The weight will work well for dams with strong underwater currents. You can also enhance the lure by adding a shiner minnow that is within the ranges of 3 to 4 inches at the back of the jig.
Avoided crowded spots
Some spots are popular hot spots for certain fishes during the winter. You will see many fishers gathered around that spot. They will catch fish, alright, but you will have a better chance at unnoticed spots. It can be challenging for you to find great fishing spots all by yourself, but the tips mentioned above will make it easier. If you catch a fish at one point, replicate the pattern at the same spot and then extend it to other places.
Use tech devices as guides
Popular devices that can help you are depth finder and GPS. The depth finder can help you with deep lake fishing. GPS is also useful in identifying exact fishing locations and guiding you back to the shore.
Ice fishing for Walleyes is rewarding; you have fun and also come home with fish for your meals. But this only happens if you plan well, go at the right time, identify a good sweet spot, and tackle well. Fishing does not need to be tough; you can have a lot of fun while at it.