Joined: 08 Dec 2005
|Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:34 pm Post subject: Walleyes
General information about walleyes
The Walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) is a freshwater fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. The walleye is sometimes called the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, a subspecies considered extinct since the seventies. However, many yellow walleye populations contain a colour variant with a bluish colour that is unrelated to the actual blue walleye. In some parts of its range, the fish is known as the yellow pike or pickerel, although the use of these names should be discouraged since the fish is related neither to the pikes nor to the pickerels, both of which are members of the Esocidae family.
The common name, "walleye", comes from the fact that their eyes, not unlike those of cats, reflect light. This is the result of a light-gathering layer in the eyes called the tapetum lucidum which allows them to see well in low-light conditions. In fact, many anglers look for walleyes at night since this is when most major feeding patterns occur. Their eyes also allow them to see well in turbid waters (stained or rough, breaking waters) which gives them an advantage over their prey. Thus, walleye anglers will commonly look for days and locations where there is a good "walleye chop" (i.e. rough water).
Walleyes are largely olive and gold in colour (hence the French common name: doré -- golden). The mouth of a walleye is large and is armed with many sharp teeth. Walleyes are distinguished from their close cousin the sauger by the white colouration on the lower lobe of the tail.
How to fish walleyes
Fishing walleye can be different on every lake. On shallow lakes they can live like bass and hide out in the weeds and live along weed lines. In deeper lakes they can suspend and live like lake trout feeding on schools of baitfish. And to add confusion, they can behave both ways in any deep lake.
So, you’re on a new lake, what’s the best mode of attack to find the walleyes? Try to eliminate water by studying a map of the lake, particularly a bathymetric map. Most of the walleye will be in 10% of the lake. For instance, on a day with a strong wind the walleye will be up against the windswept shore feeding on baitfish. In the spring, baitfish spawn in beach areas so sand is always a good bet. If you see birch trees on shore there is usually sand in the area. Humps, reefs, shoals and bars that are wind swept also produce feeding walleye. Look for areas with access to deep water and structure coming up to around 4-8 feet below the surface.
On some lakes the walleye only feed at night or under high wind and rain conditions (i.e. low light conditions) so this is the only time the fish seem to make it into the boat. Mud lines on these lakes also work during the day. Sometimes you can get the walleyes in 2 feet of water if they are feeding along a mud line.
The post spawn is usually a difficult time to fish because walleye patterns are not established and are not easy to figure out. They could be holding in the mouth of a river, or off the break of a spawning shoal or cruising flats on the feed. Usually, after a solid week or two of warm weather after the spawn, the walleye will move out into their summer locations around the lake (mid lake humps, flats, weed lines and weed beds). Consequently, keep moving and changing locations - the walleye should be feeding somewhere.
Walleyes are known to hold in relatively deep water, especially by mid-summer. But this doesn’t mean you can’t catch them in shallow water. Even when walleyes are holding in deeper water, they will still sneak onto a shallow flat to feed on baitfish. On windy days it’s not a bad idea to fish right against a wind-blown bank. Bait fish get blown in shallow, plus the wind can reduce water visibility, meaning walleyes move shallower to track prey easier. The same concept applies to dark or stained water: you can find fish shallower, and you don’t have to worry as much about spooking them. Walleyes are more aggressive when they move into shallower water feed.
By summer, the forage base has become better established and getting fish to bite gets a bit tougher. This is when you should add some attraction to your bait or lure to get more walleyes to bite. This can be as simple as some flash, some color, or some scent. On a live bait rig consider a small colored bead above the hook. Orange is a great color when you’re chasing walleyes. Just thread on a colored-bead or two and then tie on the hook. On days when walleyes get really finicky, that little splash of color can make a big difference in whether you get bites or not.
If you're fishing a jig, consider adding some extra scent. If you're tipping the jig with live bait, you already have some scent working for you, but there is more you can do. Use a jig that has a plastic-securing barb molded right behind the lead-head. Pinch off an inch of Power Worm or Power Grub and thread it onto the jig and over that barb. This little piece of scented plastic can be the trigger you need when a minnow, crawler or leech isn’t quite enough to get the fish to commit.
When you’re trolling deep-diving crankbaits you can increase your odds of getting a strike dramatically by threading half a nightcrawler on the front treble hook. This is a technique that tournament anglers have been using for years now and it works. Just split a nightcrawler and weave it onto the front treble hook. Check the lure at the side of the boat to make sure it wobbles the way it’s supposed to and is still running straight.
Walleye Fishing Techniques
(courtesy of HL Outdoors – The Slip Bobber Swami – see http://www.hloutdoors.com/swami.htm)
So, just what is a slip bobber and what does it do? A slip bobber is a float that slides freely along the angler's fishing line. Conventional bobbers - the ones that attach directly to the line - have 3 serious drawbacks:
1. The depth at which they can be set is pretty much limited to the length of the angler's rod because anything more is too difficult to cast with distance or accuracy;
2. Because of their attachment to the line they limit the amount of line that can be reeled up, thus hampering efforts to control fish (especially large ones) in that critical time when you've almost got 'em landed; and
3. Their direct attachment tends to damage line. Slip bobbers solve all 3 of these problems quite nicely. They can be fished at any depth, the line can be reeled all the way to the terminal tackle, and they do not damage line.
For any float to work, there has to be some point at which the float is restrained from movement on the line. Conventional bobbers do this by attaching directly to a fixed point on the line. The key to slip bobbers is that they are not attached directly to the line, but they are limited in moving by a part that is. This part is the line stop or stop knot. A stop knot is small enough to pass easily through rod guides and reel mechanisms, but too large to pass through the stop bead on the slip bobber. The stop knot is snugged tightly enough to resist movement under pressure from the bobber, but can still be moved along the line by the angler if he or she desires a different depth setting. Thus, the angler armed with a slip bobber can fish at any depth and is only limited by the depth of the lake or the amount of line on the spool.
Setting up your slip bobber
1. The first thing you have to do is set up your stop knot. Thread your line through the plastic tube that holds the stop knot. Give yourself at least a couple of feet of free line.
2. Slide the stop knot off the tube and onto your line. Make sure you slide it off the end of the tube toward your rod tip. Slide the tube off your line and discard it.
3. Slowly and steadily pull both tag ends of the stop knot to tighten it down. When you think it's tight enough, test it. You should be able to slide it under medium (not light) pressure.
4. Clip the tag ends of to 1/16 inch.
It's a good idea to attach a small split shot about a foot above your bait - this will keep the float from sliding off in case a big walleye snaps your line at the bait. Now, slide the stop knot to set the depth at which you want to fish. Presto! You now have a fully functional slip bobber rig and all the fish in nearby bodies of water are in mortal jeopardy.
Bait up with whatever and cast your rig upon the waters. The slip bobber will rest in a more or less horizontal position as your bait sinks and your line slides through it. As soon as it contacts the stop knot, it should assume a vertical position. The length of time that this takes depends on how deep you are fishing and how much terminal weight you are using, but you want the bobber to be vertical because many game fish will carry the bait upward as they strike, causing a vertical bobber to pop up to horizontal. You can't detect this if your bobber is already horizontal, and you may lose a fish because of it.
If your bobber doesn't tip to vertical, here are some reasons why:
1. Your depth setting is too deep and your bait is resting on the bottom of the lake;
2. You are not using enough terminal weight;
3. Your bait is hung up on a weed or some other structure; or
4. A fish has taken the bait on the way down.
If your float tips to vertical and immediately sinks, then
1. You are using too much terminal weight; or
2. You have a fish on!
Any movement of the float - down, up, sideways - should be regarded as a fish. If you keep getting strikes while the bait is sinking, the fish are suspended above your depth setting and you should shallow up. You should use a bobber just enough to float your bait. The smaller the bobber, the more sensitive it is and the less the fish can feel it. When you cast, allow your line to remain slack until the bobber tips to vertical. This will help prevent the float from "running up" your line and pulling your bait away from the structure towards which you casted.
As good as they are, slip bobbers do have a drawback. They are not a "fast" fishing method, so they are probably not your best bet for locating fish.
Here's the web reference to Phil Rolfe's excellent treatise on bottom bouncing http://www.justfishontario.net/bottom_bouncing_a_to_z.htm
Here are some web references that provide tips for jigging walleyes:
Jigging Walleyes 101 http://fishingminnesota.com/fishinfo82.html
Jigging Walleyes 102 http://fishingminnesota.com/fishinfo97.html
Ten Steps to Better Jigging http://www.walleyehunter.com/articles/takasaki2.html
ABCs of Jigging Walleyes http://www.thenextbite.com/site/article.cfm?owner=7AF1B27E-0ED2-4D20-BC166B89E335843B
Hear is a web references to help with drop shotting:
Standout hooks can be used for drop shotting - see http://ttiblakemore.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67&products_id=280
Here's a web reference that provides criteria for selecting the types of crankbaits to use in specific instances:
From Jay Thomas
We tend to identify potential walleye fishing spots as you do - points with relatively close access to deep water ( 40 feet plus) and/or submerged islands (water on top 15-23 feet deep) surrounded by deep water. One productive method for us in early July has been bottom bouncing (10-20 feet deep) with a worm harness and a jumbo leech attached to the front hook only. I like to use a Northland Float'N Spin with a 5 ft snell. Best colour was something called Red Tail but yellow/green and yellow/orange worked too. Although we caught walleye with worms on these worm harnesses, the productivity with leeches was much better.
We've also had success drifting (up to 35 feet deep) with light wire hooks and leeches with split shot up the line 18 or 20 inches from the hook. We use fluorescent red (92569FR) or fluorescent chartreuse (92569FC) # 2 Ultra Point Mustad Neon Bait hooks. You can see these hooks on the mustad web site at: http://www.mustad.no/products/premium/ultrapoint/up_neonbait.htm I pretie these hooks (during the winter) to flurocarbon leaders (approx 40 inches) with a small snap swivel and store them on something like a Lindy Spinner Wrap Kit which you can see on the Cabela's web site. I place just enough split shot at the snap swivel end to get the rig to the bottom. We have had more success with leeches on this rig than with crawlers. I use a small spinning reel spooled with 6 lb test Trilene XL mounted on a sensitive tip light weight rod. In Sep, we have used this rig to catch walleyes on the bottom in 34 to 38 FOW.
Ian, sounds like you've got the Walleye trolling presentation technique nailed. My only exception is lures and rigging. I use only Rebel floaters, sometimes straight sometimes jointed, silver/blue in sun and silver/black during overcast. I'll place a bell sinker, usually start with 1/4 oz about 20 inches up the line from the lure. Idea is to get a weight that bounces the bottom a little. Depth can be controlled by let out. This doesn't work well with other lures....I've tried but it kills the Walleye in Kipawa. Regardless, structure is the most important and shallow to deep relatively quickly as you pointed out is key. Like yourself when I hit a couple I'll switch to casting texas rigged worms, salted minnows, leeches or 1/4 black jigs (rubber or hair...hair preferred).
….As for fishing presentation for walleyes, we use jigging 95% of the time right on the bottom with 1/3 crawler - some leeches. Look for a rock/sand transition area that is close to both shallow and deep water. If you can find one of these near an inside turn of a point, all the better. Early AM (5:00 AM) we would start in shallow, and then slide out as time progressed, finally stopping at about 22' by 8:00 AM. In the evening (6:00 PM), we'd start deeper and move shallow as the night wore on. By 9:15 PM or so, we'd cast light jigs (1/8 oz - 1/16 oz.) in to shore from 12' of water and get a fish on almost every cast. Most fish came from 12'-16' of water. The bigger fish came out of 18'-22'. The presentation is very refined...you couldn't be lazy. There was no room for "sleeping on the jig"...once they hit it you had to set the hook immediately or you would miss them. And when I say immediate, I mean within a half-second. A good sensitive rod was the key. Chartreuse with either a chartreuse Foxee or Fuzz-E-Grub body worked well as did smaller 2"-3" twister tails. Pink and white jig combinations also worked well. Most of us use 4 lb - 8 lb test...the lighter the better and don't get cheap on the line...buy good line as abrasion and wear are common. As for jigs, I've never tied one larger than 1/4 oz, but I'm sure if conditions got ugly or we had to fish deep, 3/8 oz - 1/2 oz would be necessary. The key to jigging is a tight presentation and paying attention to the feel of the jig. The bite is often very subtle and as stated, you have a split-second to set the hook. Last year, our group of 4 caught nearly 275 walleye in a 6 day week using this method.
From Whiskey Fox
On day two, I hooked up with the two first-timers in our group (Arkansas Boys). After 30 minutes in their boat, I switched over to their pattern. They didn't know any better, so they were drop shot fishing 6 foot fishing rods with a small spincast spooled with 8 lb. fireline. A snap swivel is tied on the end of the line to which a drop shot rig is attached. It consisted of 6 lb. mono with a 3/8 to 1/2 oz. bell sinker on the bottom and a red standout drop shot hook tied about 5 inches up from the sinker. The rig is then worked slowly to keep in contact with the bottom. It was kind of windy, so dropping anchor and working the holes seemed to work best. Not much of a jigging action was used, just a slow retrieve. This method seemed to yield a lot more fish than the standard jig approach.
*note Whiskey Fox tied the hook directly to the line with a Palomar knot.- Ian
Recipes for Walleye
Poached Walleye for 4
Fold tinfoil (18 inches long X 36 inches wide) in half to form square (18 inches X 18 inches)
Fold another piece of tinfoil exactly the same size
Dice two large sweet onions (e.g. vidalia )
Dice two peppers (your preferred colour)
Mix the diced onions and diced peppers together
Spread a 5/8 inch layer of onion/pepper mixture on tinfoil
Add 4 tablespoons of butter (1 in each quadrant)
Place boneless walleye fillets on top of onion/pepper mixture
Salt and pepper to taste (can add dill too if desired)
Pour remaining onion/pepper mixture over fillets
Can add 1 can mushroom soup if mushroom gravy desired
Cover with second piece of tinfoil
Tightly fold all edges of tinfoil at least twice to close
Cook on BBQ at medium high for 20 minutes
Ignace Outpost BBQ’d Walleye
Fillet and debone walleye (leave skin on)
Lay skin side down on the BBQ
Sprinkle lemon juice on fillets
Baste flesh with Kraft Golden Italian Dressing
Baste two or three times while fish cooks
When cooked through from the bottom (do not flip)
Remove from the grill serve hot and eat flesh off the hide
Brad's Maple-Ginger Walleye
Fillet walleye, clean and dip into a mixture of egg and milk Coat walleye fillets with a mixture of flour, graham cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, salt and lemon pepper and crushed toasted almonds. Fry walleye in pan with butter until golden brown.
Prepare maple-ginger sauce by heating 1/3 cup of maple syrup in small pan with 1 tsp of butter. As syrup heats almost to boil add 1 tsp of powdered ginger and stir until butter is melted and sauce is smooth.
Serve walleye fillets and pour maple ginger sauce over fillets.
1 stick butter (1/4 lb) melted
3 Cups instant potato flakes
1 Cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon dill weed
Add salt and pepper to taste
Mix dry ingredients well
Preheat oven to 400
Dip walleye fillets in melted butter and then into the mixture
Place fillets on a cooking sheet and place in oven
Cook for 15 minutes and then turn fillets
Cook 5-10 minutes more or until golden brown.
Broiled Walleye compliments of Dev
Clean fillets, no bones, no skinny belly meat.
Coat lightly with olive oil
Coat with fresh pesto sauce and butter
Add some fresh ground white peppercorn
Top lightly with bread crumbs
Broil on one side only for 10 min
Works best for smaller fillets - 15" - 20" fish
Deep Fried Walleye With Post Toastie Corn Flakes
Marinate fillets in lemon juice for 1 hour or more in fridge
Cover fillets with flour and shake off excess
Dip fillets into beaten egg (no milk)
Roll or shake fillets in crushed Post Toastie Corn Flakes
Deep fry fillets in hot oil
Poor Man's Lobster - a great appetizer
Fillet and debone walleye (can substitute northern)
Cut fish into chunks (3/4 inch X 3/4 inch)
Boil large pot of water with plenty of salt, and cut onions
Add fish chunks to boiling brew
When fish is tender 1 or 2 minutes, remove fish and onions
Serve hot with melted butter
Brad's secret Beer Batter
Combine the contents of a pancake mix package with a warm beer (a very liquid consistency)
Add enough yellow mustard to give light yellow color to batter
Dip fillets into beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs
Dip breaded fillets into beer batter and then deep fry
The secret is warm beer, yellow mustard and very liquid consistency
Beer Potatoes (Best camp potatoes ever!)
Slice red skin potatoes ¼ inch thick and soak in water
Dice 3 or 4 large onions
Cut 1 lb of bacon slices into thirds and fry till brown and do not pour off bacon grease
Drain the potatoes and add the potatoes and diced onion into the frying pan with bacon and grease
Stir all ingredients and add salt to taste
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the mixture
Then pour 1 can of beer over mix
Place a lid on the frying pan and cook until potatoes are done (usually 20 to 25 mins) turning occasionally
Then remove the lid and dice the mixture
Continue frying to cook off moisture and brown
Serve with fish