Most of the year, river walleyes are
found along riprap or natural rock shorelines, near rock wingdams or along
sand-gravel dropoffs with light current or no current at all. In spring following spawning they may be
found on sandy points and shoals with moderate current but by early summer they
scatter to rock and gravel bottom areas.
Since rivers are generally more
turbid than lakes, river walleyes spend most of their lives in shallower water
than lake walleyes because light penetration does not force them into the
depths. I rarely fish deeper than 15
feet for river walleyes and most of the time in 5 to 10 feet of water.
River walleyes may feed at any time
of day and the major feeding periods may not be dawn and dusk, as is usually
the case in lakes. Again, the greater
turbidity allows them to feed in the shallows throughout the day. Even in clear rivers, the turbulence of the
surface cuts down light penetration so walleyes are often caught throughout the
walleyes are suckers for artificial lures especially jigs. To survive in water that is murky much of the
time, they become conditioned to strike without getting a good look at what
they’re striking at. In clear lakes,
artificial lures would more likely be ignored in favor of the real thing. Fluorescent colored jigs like Fuzz-E-Grub
Techni Glo jigs in the yellow or bright chartreuse are good examples of this
type of jig. Shallow water fishing in the spring is overlooked by many anglers,
but it can be one of the most productive methods of boating some fresh
walleyes. Shortly after ice-out, male walleyes in the 1 to 3 pound range will
move into shallow spawning areas. The
best spawning sites are large sloping shallow bars with a bottom composition of
gravel. The aggressive male walleyes
will hold over these areas for a month or more and feed aggressively during,
before and after spawning. The larger
walleyes are most always females, and although they can be taken during the pre
spawn period, they are virtually impossible to take while spawning and
reluctant to bite for a two-week period following the rigors of procreation.
I like to attach a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce Timb'r Rock jig to
the end of the line instead of a plain hook.
The Timb'r Rock jig allows you to present live bait or plastic in all
kinds of cover without fear of snags.
Due to its unique "weight centered" design, it lands upright
every time. The patented seven strand
wire guard protects the hook point from hang-ups. I like the color that a jig head adds, plus I
need to add a little extra weight to pull the line down to the preset depth
when using a jig head. If you use this
slip bobber method, it will enable you to jig your bait vertically without
positioning yourself over the top of the structure. With little or no wind you'll have action on
the bobber. This can easily be achieved
by sweeping the rod about a foot at a time.
It might seem simple, and it is, but the results will astound you.
Probably the best method, or my favorite is, to Timb'r
Doodle them with a jig. The No-Snagg
Veg-E-Jig from Lindy is without a doubt the best way to fish timber. This jig allows you to penetrate the toughest
brush pile on the water without getting hung up. The front eyelet position and
the slender profile allows the Veg-E-Jig to slip through all weed vegetation
and timber without all the frustrations of snags. Like the Timb'r Rock jig it also has the
seven strand wire guard that protects the hook from snags, but this jig has the
super strong, ultra sharp Gamakatsu hook and that makes for an awesome live
bait delivery system. By dipping your
bait into various spots in the flooded timber you will find that many walleyes
are present and willing to bite.
Crankbaits especially Rapalas are very
effective since they show up better than standard colored lures. One of the best lures that I use is the
Rattlin’ Rapala. This not only gives off
bright color, but also adds the additional sensory attraction of sound.
Because most river walleyes do not
suspend, I attach my Rattlin’ Rapalas to leadcore line. This gives me an in line weight that takes
the lure right to where the walleye is.
I will use this method even while trolling in shallow water. Most anglers would think that you would get
more snags by doing so, but it still keeps the bait in the strike zone. You will have to monitor and adjust such
things as speed and length of line let out, but again you want it where the
walleyes are. Also troll upstream with
this approach. This will enable you to
have fewer snags, plus it puts the offering in front of the walleyes nose as he
faces into the current to eat.
Look for structure that the fish use as ambush points or
places to hide, out of the current. Such
structure might be logs, weeds, rocks or boat docks. All of these make excellent casting points to
target while fishing from shore. If you
are in an area that allows you to have two poles out, use a rod tipped with
live bait and the other rod with an artificial lure. If you position your live bait adjacent to
the structure, you can use the artificial lure to entice a fish to follow and
have them hook up on your live bait rig.
If you're going to be using a
crankbait, however, you should also think about the action of the lure in the
water. The wobble of the bait can make a
difference in how many walleyes you catch.
It seems like a minor thing, and
many walleye chasers don't even notice that different baits have different
wobbles as they're pulled through the water.
It's been my experience, though, that marble-eyed fish are definitely
influenced by the action of the lure.
Early season walleyes are some of the best tasting table fare. Remember to slow down your presentation and
try a variety of methods and you will be having a fresh fish dinner before to