The trouble is that many anglers have the same idea that
you do. It is a good warm spring day why not take a trip to the river and see
if you can catch a few walleyes for supper. When you arrive at the landing you
might be surprised to see hundreds of boat trailers parked, and when you
venture to the dam you know just where they were headed. You know that the
most sensitive of all of these fish are the fish that are related to
structure. The fish that were located off the rock piles or the tips of the
wing dams are being hammered. Where can a person fish who wants to catch fish?
Where aren't the boats? I begin looking further downstream from the madding
crowd. Walleyes can be very spooky fish and you have to fish them where there
is not a lot of fishing pressure. In fact, I might go downstream as far as two
or three miles before I start looking for fish.
When I first get on a heavily fished body of water, I'll start running the
river and looking for things that aren't obvious to all anglers. For example
the things like bottom changes. You might run a straight shoreline break and
see where it changes from sand into rock or mud into hard bottom. You may even
discover a rock pile that doesn't show up on a map.
A river walleye unlike lake walleyes have to fight current all of their lives.
Therefore, the walleyes in the rivers have adapted to be in areas that offer
current breaks so they donít have to fight the current all of the time. These
current breaks are anything that diverts the current and allows slack water.
The slack water areas are found below the dams where an eddy is formed by the
water being drawn over the dam and rushing downstream causing a slack water
area on each side of the dam. Other obstructions that cause slack water might
be below wingdams, behind rocks, a depression in the floor of the river, a
stump or fallen tree, or man made obstacles such as bridge abutments.
Look for breaks in the current. They may be behind islands, points, and below
bars in mid channel. In strong current, walleyes group tight to structure. In
softer current or low water periods, they often scatter, and hold on edges of
barriers or current breaks.
Other spots may be structure like gravel or sandbars, shallow rocky shoals
near drop-offs, wave-washed points, deserted sandy bottom beaches, or
bottlenecks between two different land masses. Riprap is also good,
particularly where current hits the rock, such as on a windy point with deep
water access, or near a culvert where fresh water is filtering through a rock
Feeder streams funneling into a river represent yet other spots which
fisherman should check out. The mouths of these tributaries often turn into
fishing gold mines, especially after a heavy rain washes fresh food and fresh
water into the river.
Depending on the force of the current and the water clarity, fish may be as
shallow as a couple feet deep, or in the bottom of a washout hole, or river
channel 15 to 20 feet deep. If the current is stronger than normal, the fish
probably are hunkered in a slack water area. All anglers must learn that
"current" sets the rules for location and presentation when fishing rivers.
I will ask local tackle and bait storeowners where most of the walleyes are
located. I want to concentrate on the most active bunch and they may be
located up by the dam or right on the lip of the wash out hole down river from
the dam. I eliminate a lot of searching by asking questions concerning the
migration of the walleyes.
Once I have found the fish I will fish them with a vertical presentation. The
jig of choice here is at least a 1/4 oz. maybe even 3/4 oz. depending on the
current. The important fact to remember is that I want the presentation to be
as straight up and down, vertically as possible. If the jig is too light it
will float off the bottom and I need to make contact with the bottom at all
times. If the line that I select is too heavy the line will get a large bow in
it and make my vertical presentation useless.
I will probably go with the heaviest Fuzz-E-Grub jig to allow me to make
contact with the bottom and 8 lb. Original Stren line to prevent the bowing in
the line Flooded timber can be good at times. Try flipping a Fuzz-E-Grub jig
tipped with a minnow into cover. Use your bowmount electric trolling motor to
fish flooded timberI prefer the Minnkota Max 101, because it is quiet and
usually in stained water you can stand right over the top of the fish without
When the particular structure is shallow don't hesitate to use the slip bobber
method. Attach a one-eighth ounce Fuzz-E- Grub and a minnow to your slip
bobber rig and allow the waves and wind to do the vertical jigging for you. If
those walleyes are biting short, attach a Lindy stinger hook to your jig.
Finding the walleyes far from the madding crowd is the key, and refining your
presentation will allow you to catch you limit of fish, while all the others
up by the dam are playing bumper boats
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