Slam Shallow Spring Walleye
How to Catch Shallow, Springtime Walleye
Fishing shallow water is a reliable way to catch walleye in the spring. Shallow water warms up the fastest, kickstarting the food chain and attracting post-spawn walleye. Hard-baits and jigs are your best friends for finding and catching fish. Here’s how to do it.
Where to Look
In spring, walleye relate to shallow shorelines, flats, large bays, points, reefs and islands. The best locations are near rocky reefs, gravel bottoms and other areas where walleye spawned. Within these larger areas, walleye will concentrate around sand-rock transitions, rock formations, vegetation and drop-offs.
Finding Walleye with Search Baits
Experiment with different retrieves. Steadily reeling imparts a tight-wiggling swim perfect for tempting bites from neutral fish. Twitches send a jerkbait darting sideways. Pause and it suspends or slowly sinks. It’s a combination walleye can’t resist.
Don’t go walleye fishing this spring without 5 and 6 sized Shad Raps. These balsa baits embody the classic Rapala action and with more than 48 million Shad Raps sold in Canada and the U.S., they’re one of the best, most consistent crankbaits.
Fish a Shad Rap with either a steady reeling retrieve or a reel-pause cadence to produce a fluttering swimming action. This lifelike, shad-inspired movement flips a switch in a walleye’s brain to attack.
Tip: Start with slow to moderate retrieves in early spring. If fish are aggressive, experiment with more speed.
Silver Florescent Chartreuse, Firetiger and other bright finishes consistently catch walleye from stained and murky water.
While Yellow Perch and other natural patterns excel in clear conditions.
Walleye also like gold and silver. Definitely load-up on the unique RipStop metallic finishes.
Tip:Replace the rear treble of a hard-bait with a VMC Bladed Hybrid Treble or Dressed X-Rap Treble. The former has a small, willow-leaf blade; the former a feather and reflective mylar fibre dressing. Each triggers bites.
Gotta Have Jigs
Jigs are walleye essentials. After locating and catching walleye using search baits, a jig can be used to hook additional fish. Other times, walleye simply prefer a jig over anything else.
A jig and minnow is walleye candy. The scent, taste and action of the Real McCoy is tough to beat in early spring.
As the water warms, walleye get more active. This is when jigging soft-plastics is deadly. Four inch minnows, paddle tails and finesse worms are good options. Tor a finesse presentation use 3” baits.
Tip:VMC Neon Moon Eye and Sleek jigs are perfect for walleye. These jigs have razor sharp, strong hooks and precision-balanced heads for optimum control. They have 3D holographic eyes and come in many colours.
Pitchin’, Swimmin’ and Hoppin’
A good rule is using as light of a jig as possible in shallow water. A slow-falling jig hangs in the strike zone longer and gets more bites when the water is cool.
Jigs weighing 1/16, 3/32 and 1/8 ounces are effective for eight feet or less. When walleye slide deeper, 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigs come into play.
While wind blowing into an area holding walleye can stimulate feeding, it often requires an angler to use a heavier jig to maintain control and feel. Current also requires heavier jigs.
Fishing a jig with a gentle, swim-pause retrieve is a good way to start. Try hops, snaps and faster swimming movements if walleye are aggressive.
Lay it on the Line
Sufix Advance Monofilament is a perfect match for shallow-walleye tactics. It delivers sufficient stretch for cushioning a walleye’s fight and keeping hooks buried. Mono also sinks slower than fluorocarbon or thin-diameter braid, which keeps a jig in the strike zone longer.
Use 8-pound Advance Monofilament for fishing jerkbaits and Shad Raps with a medium power spinning rod, such as the 13 Fishing 6’7” Omen Black. Use 6- to 8-pound for jigs.
Anglers preferring fluorocarbon won’t find a better line than Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon. Nearly invisible underwater, its a good pick for gin-clear lakes. Denser than mono, fluoro can be used to increase a lure’s running depth and may influence a jig’s fall rate and action.
Thin-diameter Sufix 832 Advance Superline provides unique shallow-water advantages, such as increasing casting distance to lessen the chances of spooking fish. We recommend 10 to 20 pound test tied to a 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Fish jerkbaits, Shad Raps and VMC jigs in shallow water this spring and you’ll catch loads of walleye. The shallows hold abundant forage and the warmest water - what more could a walleye want after enduring a long, harsh winter?