Winter Walleye Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Walleye Tips

A four-day warming trend found me on the ice in central Minnesota looking for some winter walleyes.  I had heard that the walleyes were biting off the usual points and I could see by the number of ice houses on the lake that most of the fisherman were already on the most active fish or at least in the most prime real estate on the lake.


I am not one of those ice fisherman that will sit and sit waiting for a bite, in fact one might say that I am really aggressive when it comes to ice fishing.  Oh, it is true that fish are sluggish in the winter and you often need to tease them into hitting.  Perch, walleye, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, and trout are attracted to movement.  They respond to it automatically.  In the warm months, trollers and casters tend to catch more than still fisherman.  In the winter, about the only movement you can create is a vertical hop or jig, but that is better than letting your bait hang there like so much wet laundry.


Panfisherman especially like to wiggle those Genz worms and teardrops tipped with grubs or waxworms.  Originally, most panfishing was done with light lines and small bobbers.  Anglers bounced the bobber up and down on the water, then waited for the fish to bite.  Many of these fisherman couldn't detected even the slightest nibble.


Always adjust your ice fishing presentation to the fish. For instance if you have all the right conditions for a good bite (fish showing on the sonar, stable weather, and rumors that fish are biting) use a technique that will work on aggressive fish.


One of my favorite aggressive fish tactics is to take a Techni-Glo Frostee, Techni-Glo Flyer or a Ratt'l Spoon and work that rod tip so the lure has a very erratic action. Hop, skip, and bounce that lure.   When an aggressive fish hits the bait you'll feel it.  If the fish are in a neutral mood they will often hit a bait so lightly that you don't even feel it. Scale down the rod and line size to compensate for the light bite. I might go to a reel that has six-pound test Stren Magnathin or even a four-pound Easy Cast.


Lures for ice fishing are like the stars on a clear night, they seem to be infinite in numbers.  Even in the summertime, my local bait shop devotes a whole wall to various sizes and colors of Fat Boys and Techni-Glo Rattl'n Hookers.  Most lures are designed to be fished with live bait.  The lure attracts the fish while the bait satisfies the fishís sense of taste.  One only has to look at this combination to realize that a jig on the end of a pole needs to be moved around if it is going to act as the attractor.


Never spend too much time in one place. When it requires some effort to make a move sometimes it's just easier to sit and wait for the fish to come to you. With all the innovations in ice-fishing gear making anglers more versatile and more mobile, it makes sense to have an attitude that will have you moving, searching for active fish.


One Sunday afternoon last year, I went out on my favorite large lake in Minnesota to find on one side of the lake fisherman were catching nice walleyes using spoons tipped with redtail chubs.  Yet on the other side of the lake the fisherman were just sitting and waiting for a bite.  I told them how the action was on the other side of the lake, but most of them didnít budge.  They either didnít believe me or maybe they werenít interested in catching fish.


Fisherman that are interested in catching fish use aggressive tactics for those walleyes, especially when there is hard water all around.  If you would like to hear more about fishing on frozen lakes drop me a line at  Hope to see you on the water soon!

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