Category Archives: Walleye and Sauger

Can I Go Walleye Fishing In Georgia?

Walleye Fishing in Georgia
Georgia DNR

Georgia State Record Walleye


Wes Carlton with his state record 14 lb., 2 oz. walleye from Lake Rabun
Walleye is the most popular sport fish in the northern states and Canada, but it remains a relatively obscure species to most Georgia anglers. With expanding populations and an excellent reputation as table fare, walleyes are gaining the attention of increasing numbers of Georgia anglers. Walleye is a coolwater fish that is native to the Tennessee River and Coosa River Valley systems that flow through the heart of Fannin, Union, and Towns counties in northeast Georgia and in Dade, Walker and Catoosa counties in northwest Georgia. Rivers with Native American names like the Coosawattee, Conasauga, Etowah, Oostanaula, Toccoa, Nottely, and Hiwasee once contained native walleye populations.

Native walleye declined in the state many years ago for a variety of reasons including loss of spawning habitat and overfishing. To rebuild and expand their distribution across North Georgia, a walleye stocking program was initiated in the 1960s. These early stockings were largely unsuccessful in all but a few mountain lakes; therefore, the walleye stocking program ceased in 1968.

During the 1990s, declining numbers of walleye coupled with the rapid expansion of illegally introduced blueback herring sparked a renewed interest in reestablishing the walleye stocking program. In 2002, a fledgling walleye stocking program was reborn in Georgia. Today, eleven lakes receive annual stockings of walleye. These include lakes Seed, Rabun, Tugalo, Yonah and Hartwell in the Savannah River drainage, lakes Chatuge and Blue Ridge in the Tennessee Valley plus Lake Lanier, Carters Lake, and two lakes in the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area.

This guide was written to provide anglers with seasonal information on where, when and how to catch walleye in Georgia. GADNR staff is also available to answer more specific questions. Contact information for walleye lakes in Georgia is provided in the table below.

Lakes Burton, Seed, Rabun, Tugalo, Yonah, Hartwell, Chatuge and Lanier

706/947-1507, 706/947-1502 770/535-5498

Blue Ridge Lake, Carters Lake, and Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area

706/295-6102

Late-Winter / Early-Spring Fishing Tips

By late-winter, the natural instincts of adult walleyes draw the population to the spawning grounds for the annual ritual of laying and fertilizing eggs. Identifying potential spawning areas is critical to angling success from February to April. For most lakes in Georgia, the major walleye spawning areas are in the headwaters in very shallow water with rocky bottoms, like the picture below of a major spawning area in the headwaters of Lake Rabun. Pre-spawn walleye stage in deeper water near the spawning grounds for several weeks while they wait for the water to reach the critical temperature of 48oF to 50oF. No fancy gear or tackle are needed to catch these fish. Simply drifting nightcrawlers slowly along the bottom through these staging areas is the best way to catch prespawn walleye. Walleye are finicky feeders and may prefer small jigs tipped with minnows or a curly tailed grub or even a crankbait, such as a sinking Rapala or Shad Rap. Maintain a slow but steady retrieve as you work these lures across the river bottom. Be patient and stay focused for a light tap or steady tug on the line.

Male walleyes will be the first to reach the spawning grounds in late-February, and they will remain in the area through mid-April. At night, male walleyes will swim into very shallow water with rocky bottoms in hopes of finding a female ready to spawn. During the day, they will retreat to the shelter of nearby deeper water to avoid the bright sunshine. Female walleyes behave much differently than their male counterparts. Females will only move in and out of the spawning grounds for brief periods at night to broadcast their eggs onto the rocky bottoms where they will be fertilized by several males. When her heavy egg sac is emptied, she will leave the spawning grounds for the season. Because of the differences in spawning behavior between male and female walleyes, anglers can expect the bulk of their catch to be males that range in size from 2 to 4 lb. GADNR has been stocking walleye into north Georgia lakes since 2001. This is sufficient time to allow many females to reach trophy size. In fact, GADNR biologists have collected walleye over 12 pounds during the spawning season on some lakes. The state record was caught in February 2016 and weighed 14 lb 2 oz.

From March through early-April, walleyes are easiest to catch in the evening hours when they venture into the shallows of the spawning grounds. In fact, some anglers talk about the “golden hour” right before nightfall as the time when walleyes bite best. Shallow water walleyes are most easily caught using a 3/8 oz jig tipped with a live minnow, nightcrawler, or plastic grub. Shallow running minnow imitations are also effective during the nightly spawning run. Whatever your preference of baits or lures, the presentation is similar. Cast across the rocky structure and make a slow but steady retrieve. The bite is rarely aggressive but feels more like sudden resistance. A slight upward swing of the rod is all that is needed to set the hook. Walleyes in shallow water are easily spooked, so finesse and stealth are critical, even at night. The rocky, shoal areas below the dams at lakes Burton, Seed, Tugalo, and Yonah offer easy bank access for nighttime anglers. Boats are required to reach spawning fish on lakes Tugalo, Hartwell, Lanier, Carters, and Blue Ridge. Use caution when fishing below dams because water levels may rise suddenly. Check water release schedules before your trip.

Late-Spring / Summer Fishing Tips

After the spawning season, walleye return to the main lake to resume their daily ritual of finding food and searching for sheltered resting areas. Because walleye prefer cool water temperatures (65 to 72oF), small schools of walleye will congregate together in deeper water during the summer months where temperatures are more suitable. Walleye orient to structure, especially bottom structure, in their preferred depth zone, only leaving these hiding spots for opportune moments to feed on herring, shad, yellow perch, sunfish, and crayfish. The key to successful walleye fishing in the summer is to determine areas of the lake where walleyes are most likely to congregate. In the mountain lakes, likely congregation areas occur on points and the mouth of coves at target depths that range from 15 to 25-feet in early summer and progressively increase to 30 to 50-feet by summer’s end. During the summer, most walleye can be found on the lower half the lake.

The best presentation for walleye in the late-spring and summer months is a simple nightcrawler that is worked slowly along the bottom near structure. Slow trolling can also be effective under lowlight and nighttime conditions using a weighted bottom bouncer armed with an in-line spinner and tipped with a nightcrawler or lively blueback herring or even deep diving crankbaits in perch, fire tiger and shad color patterns. Long points, humps, and weed beds on the lower end of the lake are the best places to search for summertime walleyes. Structure fishing with finesse and diligence will ultimately be the keys to hooking into some walleyes during the warmer months.

Several reservoirs in north Georgia are summer standouts because of their relatively small size and ease of locating deepwater fish. Lakes with excellent summer walleye fishing include Lake Yonah, Lake Tugalo, and Lake Rabun. The search for summer walleye should begin on the lower one-third of the reservoir in the mouth of coves, on long points, or around any deepwater structure. There is one unusual twist to the traditional summertime, deepwater pattern on these lakes. After heavy rain events, walleyes will frequently move into the shallow headwaters to feed in the fast-flowing, turbid waters. These opportunities are unpredictable but worth taking advantage of when they occur because the walleyes that move into the shallows are generally big and hungry!


Fall Fishing Tips

When the tree leaves turn colors during the cool days of October, walleyes emerge from their deepwater refuge to search the shallows for unsuspecting prey. During the fall, walleye actively feed during low light conditions and throughout the night. The moon phase can also influence walleye fishing success, with the best night time fishing occurring under a full moon. Once again, search the points and adjacent flats on the lower one-third of the reservoir at dawn, dusk or at night for shallow water feeding activity.

Cool weather walleye feed on a wide variety of prey items, including blueback herring, shad, yellow perch, bluegill, minnows, and crayfish. During the fall months, walleye will typically bunch up around downed trees and other structures in 20 to 40-feet of water, especially in the outer bends of the river channel. Anglers should nibble around the edges of these structures with a small jig that is tipped with a minnow or nightcrawler. Trolling with live herring or deep-diving crankbaits is a secondary option at this time of year.

Winter Fishing Tips

From December through February, water temperatures on most north Georgia lakes dip into the mid to low 40s. Cold winter temperatures reduce a fish’s desire to feed. For those brave enough to endure the cold, live baits presented around bottom structure at depths from 30 to 60-feet, especially near the dam, can produce a few strikes. Although winter walleye may be bunched up, they are largely inactive. Patiently dangling a live herring or medium shiner or even a jigging spoon in front of their nose may be sufficient temptation to draw a strike. If one fish is caught or located, you can be sure that others are nearby. The key to successful winter fishing is to work your baits slowly around every nook and cranny of bottom structures.

In late winter, warm rains can concentrate walleye in tributary areas of the lake. Tributary runoff is often a few degrees warmer than the main lake and sometimes more turbid in color. These conditions are favorable to the baitfish that walleye prey upon. Follow the warming water to the bait and you will find the predators, including walleye.

Plastics Transition for Walleyes

The Live-Bait to Plastics Transition for Walleyes
By Tony Roach
from The Fishing Wire

Perhaps the single quickest abandoned pattern in a walleye angler’s arsenal is the shallow jig bite, and I plead “guilty” to the above charge. Anglers that have six boxes with nothing but jigs in them for opener, forget what part of the garage they’re now in collecting dust. Early in the season, shiners are purchased not by the dozen or the scoop, but by the gallon, as the simple act of just threading one on the correct-sized jig will instill confidence throughout the north-country and beyond. One week later, anglers flee the shallow shorelines, developing weedlines, and near-shore rockpiles for the hope of greener pastures out deep, and more familiar, longer-lasting summer patterns. Rigging, slip-bobbering, pulling crankbaits, anything but jigs seem to get the nod as temperatures rise and fishing heats up. Yet, there’s plenty reason to keep those jigs around, and even tip them with minnows in the weeks after opener. What’s more, is that there are a number of developing shallow bites right now that keep jigs in play, just maybe with some different meat threaded onto the business end.

I asked famed guide Tony Roach what was getting him bit, and his response was simple. “Everyone sees me up shallow in 4 -8 feet of water. They think I’m bass fishing, but I’m whaling on walleyes right now with a simple jig and plastic combination.” Truly, there are strong segments of the walleye population in most lakes that never leave the shallows for the entirety of the year. That’s news for technical fishermen that use electronics to pick apart deep water structure and dissect off-shore features during this time of year. As the lake system ramps up biologically, fish need food, cover, and oxygen, with the greatest limiter being food. Developing weeds, especially cabbage, are magnets when interspersed with rock or other hard bottom. These locations always hold some bait, and typically always hold some walleyes throughout the season.

My experience has seen some good shallow bites going right now too, with the best being a river run in 5 – 7 foot of water. Current is the great equalizer, as high skies, bright sun, and no wind still translates into a great day when fishing current seams, eddies, and riffles in rivers. The same conditions that absolutely kill other patterns, especially in clear water natural lakes, don’t seem to hassle the river fish that are taking advantage of current that sweeps unsuspecting invertebrates, bait, and terrestrials downstream and into their gullets. Long-lining and leadcore staples that typically produce good numbers of fish during this time of year were poor in comparison. The bite ebbs and flows, with low-light periods still shining brightest, but moving water is a great savior to an otherwise weary day of walleye fishing.

In both scenarios, the classic pitch and run technique utilizing jigs and shiners were tweaked if only slightly. “As the water warms up, there’s a transition to where plastics become just-as, if not more effective than shiners or other minnows,” mentions Tony. “It’s something I see every year. As people move to the mud or mid-lake structure to rig, I simply switch to jigs with a Northland Impulse Smelt or Paddle Minnow to get these fish to chase a bit more,” explains Roach about his shallow techniques. Honed on the big waters of Mille Lacs, Leech, and Winnie, Roach is a big fan of this pattern, “Plastics allow me to fish more quickly, cast further without losing bait, and keep on a hot bite without pausing to re-bait.” Those valuable bite windows can be small and precious, especially in unfavorable conditions, so staying with the heavy part of the bite and not missing out on fish becomes crucial to making a decent day into a great one. Visual cues put off by paddle-tails, ringworms, and even minnow shaped flukes go well beyond your average minnow, especially in the colors and hues available. Nowadays, our choices for colors to pique a fish’s curiosity are nearly limitless, and often we can mimic forage that doesn’t even resemble our offering just by switching colors. For example, an orange jig and grub combination looks nothing like a rusty crayfish, but don’t tell that to Lake of the Woods walleyes that were coughing up blaze-orange crustacean parts all over the live well last summer. Those fish happily engaged that offering crawled near bottom on many of the rock reefs and points that we fished.

Plastics design has come a long way since varieties from days gone by. Color and flash give way to vibration, flicker, and quiver all throughout the very lifelike baits on the market today. The end-result is an attraction based not just on visual cues, but key components in the way a bait pulsates that trigger fish’s predatory instincts. As walleye’s lateral lines pick up these distinct tremors in the water column, I’m convinced that the heavy thumpers truly call in fish from a distance to warrant a close investigation at the very least.

Fishing a jig is a rewarding way to get bit, and offers a few more weeks of great near-shore fishing for walleyes. Just remember that as a lake’s “metabolism” gears up for the best fishing of the year, the bite becomes both more effective AND efficient when pairing those jigs with plastics.

Summer Fishing Tips for Walleye

Summer Fishing Tips for Walleye from Champ Scott Glorvigen
from The Fishing Wire

Forget the bank for summer fishing success

A variety of gamefish gravitate to offshore feeding grounds in the summer, giving savvy anglers ample reason to abandon the bank in favor of deep-water hotspots.

“This time of year, many walleyes, bass and other types of fish move away from shoreline areas that held fish in the spring,” says noted fishing expert and tournament champion Scott Glorvigen. “The good news is, they don’t scatter aimlessly. More often than not, the fish relocate to main-lake cover and structure that offers reliable feeding opportunities.”

While more than a few anglers are intimidated at the prospect of searching for fish in the blue-water abyss, Glorvigen says finding and catching your favorite quarry is a simple process, provided you follow an easy yet effective plan of attack.

“The first step is using your electronics to find likely areas and scan them for fish,” he begins. “The sport’s pioneers used simple flashers to quickly sweep structure as they hunted for walleyes on massive bodies of water like Lake Oahe. They had the discipline not to fish until they saw them on their electronics.

“The concept still applies,” he continues. “And today we’re blessed with cutting edge sonar and GPS chartplotters with built-in mapping that make our searches far easier and more efficient.”

For his part, Glorvigen rigs his boat with Lowrance HDS Gen3 units stationed at the bow, helm and stern, networked together for seamless shifts between presentations including trolling, backtrolling and live bait rigging. “I can share waypoints and maps, and even select multiple transducer locations, all without missing a beat,” he explains.

And no matter how promising a spot may appear, Glorvigen doesn’t linger if no fish are marked. “Too many times, anglers are guilty of fishing areas that look good, even if fish aren’t present,” he says. “That’s a waste of precious fishing time.”

If you’re tempted to try a fishless spot based on memories or how it looks, he encourages you to reconsider. “Think of it in hunting terms,” he says. “If you were spotting and stalking whitetails, and glassed every inch of a field or valley without seeing anything, would you still sneak out there on your hands and knees just because it looks so good?”

Watch this video to see more of Scott’s finesse fishing tactics.
When fish are marked, Glorvigen uses sonar to gauge their mood, or activity level, so he can select a presentation to match it. “For example, walleyes suspended a foot off bottom on the top or crown of a breakline are most likely active and will respond to more aggressive tactics like crankbaits or spinners,” he explains. “Bottom huggers lying on the side or base of a break usually need more finesse with a Roach Rig, Lindy Rig or some sort of snell and live bait.”

Fish that move around also dictate different presentations than those content to hunker in one area. “Spinners and cranks help you keep up with cruisers,” he says. “Jigging or slowly dragging a crawler on a live-bait rig is better for fish that stay in one spot.”

He also advocates a more vertical approach when fish are concentrated in a small area. “People have a tendency to make long drifts or trolling passes, even when all their bites come from one spot,” he says. “You’ll catch more fish by staying on top of them.”

Deep water or stained conditions such as algae blooms allow anglers to position themselves over a school of fish without spooking them. “Use your sonar to watch the bait and how fish react to it, similar to ice fishing,” Glorvigen says.

If you have trouble holding the boat over a sweet spot, he suggests throwing a marker buoy for reference or dropping a waypoint on your GPS plotter. “Hands-free options like the Spot-Lock feature on Minn Kota’s Ulterra bowmount trolling motor are a big help, too,” he says. “They allow you to focus on fishing, not boat control, and keep the boat in place even when you’re tending to a fish or otherwise preoccupied.”

As he formulates a fishing strategy, Glorvigen also considers mitigating factors like the prevailing wind. “Fish are usually more active where the wind or a wind-driven current meets cover or structure,” he says. Places where migratory baitfish such as smelt, shiners or ciscoes bump into a piece of structure when moving in from open water can also be hotspots, he notes.

While fishing an area, Glorvigen also pays close attention to which trolling passes and casts trigger the most strikes. “Predators are often conditioned to baitfish, wind-blown insects or other forage coming at them from a certain direction, such as deep to shallow,” he says.

By piecing together such pertinent clues after locating fish on main-lake structure or cover, Glorvigen guarantees you’re well on your way to enjoying successful offshore adventures all summer long.

What Is Walleye Egg Collection?

Walleye Egg Collection 101

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has been asked to collect 200 quarts of walleye eggs from Mosquito Reservoir for hatchery production this spring.
from The Fishing Wire

What does this mean? How do they do it? Why do they do this? What is the end result?

From start to finish…

net setting

net setting

The Net Set
• ODNR Crews set 16 trap nets on Mosquito Reservoir to collect fish.
• Nets are set in shallow water- 14 feet deep or less.
• Nets are set from the causeway to the dam, primarily on the east side
• Fish hit the lead (red line) and swim toward deeper water towards the work up area
• IF YOU SEE A NET, PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM IT!!!!!

Running the Nets
• If it swims, we catch it! Walleye, crappie, perch, sunfish, and catfish are commonly caught, but we do catch pike, bass, and an occasional mudpuppy.
• Fish are netted from the end of the net and processed on the boat.
• Female walleyes ready to spawn are the target. 15 – 22″ is normal- 25″ and up have been seen!

Taking eggs

Taking eggs

Egg Take at The Ramp
• Female walleye eggs are mixed with either walleye sperm to make walleye OR sauger sperm to make saugeyes.
• Each quart of walleye eggs taken can yield 130,000 fish.
• A large female walleye can have 2 quarts in her!

At The Hatchery
• Fertilized walleye eggs are taken back to Senecaville State Fish Hatchery (Guernsey Co.).
• Eggs can die off due to low water flow, fungus, poor fertilization, or rapid temperature changes.
• Fish are then hatched off in jars in about 3 weeks.

Walleye fry

Walleye fry

Back at the Lake
• Fish can either be stocked as fry (see above) or fingerling (see right), depending on the lake.
• Fry are 1/4″ long, are stocked in late April, and typically stocked at a rate of 1000 / acre of water.
• Fingerling are 1-2 inches long, are stocked in late May, and are typically stocked at a rate of 100 / acre of water.

The End Result?
• Fish stocked in the spring will grow to 8 inches by September.
• More importantly, fish stocked in 2012 will be about 15 inches within 2 years. They grow REALLY fast with how much gizzard shad there is for them to eat!
• We know that some fish will die throughout this process. Taking the eggs from the female walleye is rough on them, especially when the water is warmer.
• Also, stocking such small fish will lead to some of them dying. If we get 1/10 of 1% (0.001) of the fish we stock to live to reach 15″, we are doing great!

But the bottom line is that without these efforts, walleye fishing on most of our inland lakes would not exist. Natural reproduction is not consistent enough to keep these high quality walleye fisheries going each and every year. Habitat is poor, and the conditions for a good natural spawn are rarely achieved- see Lake Erie!

The Ohio Division of Wildlife conserves and improves fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all.

How To Pitch Plastics for Walleye

How To Pitch Plastics … Like A Plumber?

By Jim Edlund
from the Fishing Wire

Big walleye caught pitching plastics

Big walleye caught pitching plastics

Although obsessed with big walleyes, Minnesota guide Josh Wetzstein is pretty humble about statistics. “I haven’t measured a fish in years. Walleyes or muskies. Hold ’em up, snap a photo and put ’em back in the water,” says Wetzstein.

Like the sag-bellied monster (in the cell phone image below), caught this past weekend on Pool 4 of the Mississippi River, that Wetzstein “guesstimates” the fish to be in the neighborhood of 12 pounds. “They had just opened the roller (gates) and it started snowing when I caught that fish. The water came up quick and fish started scrambling. Came together just right and she bit,” laughs Wetzstein.

He was pitching a chartreuse B FISH N Moxi on a 3/16-ounce white H20 Precision Jig Head. “I like H20 Precision Jig Heads but when you burn through as many jigs as I do, well, you make your own, too. I probably have 50 or 60 Do-It molds.”

But more on that later.

Though humble, Wetzstein is also opinionated. “I don’t waste time floating the river with Dubuque rigs to catch eaters. Doesn’t interest me in the slightest. My thing is targeting big fish. And in my river experience, 90-percent of the big fish are caught in 10 feet or less.”

Fat walleye caught pitching plastics

Fat walleye caught pitching plastics

His program? Pitching shallow water with plastics.

“You’ve gotta get out of the fast current. The big fish aren’t there. Find a point, a rock pile. Get down current. That’s where the big fish are. I jump around using my bowmount, jogging up and down, pitching riprap, wood, current seams, whatever. Electronic anchoring is key.”

And electronics? “The big thing is knowing where you can motor, where you can’t. Otherwise, it’s about reading the river, looking for current seams, inside and outside bends, eddies, and working riprap.”

Some days yield big fish, while others don’t. Not a big deal to Wetzstein, whose other passion is muskie fishing, although he catches his share of respectable mid-sized walleyes, too. “Besides the big fish this weekend, we caught probably thirty fish between 18 and 26 inches. And lots of milking males,” says Wetzstein.

But it’s the anticipation that the next cast could connect with a 30-incher that keeps him swinging when most anglers are vertical jigging or pulling three-way rigs. And right now – from water temps of 40 degrees through 50 degrees – he’s pitching a B FISH N Tackle Ringworm to find fish, then sizing up to a Moxi. “Beefier profile plastics like the Moxi just do better on big fish this time of year.”

Pitching Pointers

“I usually pitch upstream and let the flow sweep my bait down past the boat,” Wetzstein says.

Walleye showing jig it hit

Walleye showing jig it hit

The best tip, he adds, is to remember the exact location of your pitch just before the bite occurs. “You might catch a fish as your jig and plastic moves right in the front of the boat, but don’t cast back to where you got bit. Pitch right back to the exact spot where the jig hit the water before you got bit. That’s where I see guys messing up.”

And cadence?

“It kind of depends on the day, but I usually just cast upstream and give small twitches and little pops off bottom as the current works the bait. Sometimes a really slow retrieve will work, too.”

And if he finds fish, he’ll move on after 20 or 30 minutes. “I don’t like to beat up on the fish too much. Some guys will sit on ’em all day, but I like to move on to a fresh spot, let the spot refill and come back later.”

Like a Plumber

“Thing is, you’ve gotta bring the motherlode with you when you go fish the river. Think of it this way, it’d be like a plumber showing up to fix your sink with nothing but a Channellock pliers. Sure, you might be able to fix it, but you can do a better job by bringing all your tools.”

For Wetzstein, a ‘better job’ equates to a dozen rods or more – 6’8″ to 7′ St. Croix Legend Elite and G Loomis NRX with extra fast actions – all rigged with different line types in different diameters and test. He also totes vast variations in jig head styles and weights, and myriad profile and color plastics. Plus, a few more sticks are rigged with various size blade baits and hair jigs.

During early-season, Wetzstein typically pitches jigs tied direct to 10 – 15 lb. PowerPro braid so he can free baits from snags without wasting time re-tying. But when it’s really cold and the water clears he’ll turn to 10 lb. NanoFil and a 15-lb. fluoro leader. And for super-finesse situations he opts for 6 or 8 lb. Berkley Sensation thin-diameter monofilament in high-visibility orange.

Wetzstein fine-tunes his presentation not only with jig size, but also line diameter and bait profile. “You might have to go from a lighter line to a heavier braid – or vice versa – to get the right rate of fall to trigger bites, which changes from day to day. Same goes for soft plastic baits. Cut off an inch or two – or size up. Again, there are a lot of factors at play. Don’t assume the fish aren’t biting if you don’t catch them on one bait. I see guys run around fishing a ¼-ounce jighead and the same color plastic, but don’t catch fish and go home. When you fish the river you have to experiment with jig weight, plastic profile, color, line; a whole bunch of different factors.”

Along the same lines, he’s believes too many river anglers play it safe. “Don’t be scared to cast into the wood and sticks. Walleyes feel safe there; they’ll even spawn in there. Boggles my mind that you have guys in $50,000 boats who cringe at losing a bait. Burn through jigs if you have to.”

Given the conditions on Pool 4 right now, Wetzstein says 3/16 oz. jig heads are about right for pitching, but there’s always a fine line between getting bit and getting snagged.

“Think of it this way, if you can’t fish a 3/16 oz. jig right now, you’re probably in the wrong spot. But when the water drops back down I’ll switch to an 1/8-ounce.”

And for the really snaggy spots, he recommends jigs like a B FISH N Tackle Draggin’ Jig. “If the wood is really gnarly, these jigs do the job. I’m always surprised how many big fish I catch way back in wood.”

And when to comes to his favorite Moxis, he sticks to fluorescents and the occasional dark pattern for dirty water, and natural colors like ‘oystershell’ for clear water.

Besides brighter colors during high, muddy water, Wetzstein recommends fishing more aggressively. “Vibration is the deal during low visibility, so give the bait a couple good rips, then a couple pops and let it sit. It you can figure out the little details in the cadence it’s huge. But don’t be afraid to grab a blade bait or hair jig, too.”

How To Catch Spring Walleyes

‘Eyes of Spring

by Chip Leer

Spring Walleye

Spring Walleye

Catch the early season river bite for spring walleyes

Winter’s demise signals the beginning of an annual rite of spring, as schools of prespawn walleyes surge upstream into rivers across the Walleye Belt.

Although the water is cool and fish location often changes day by day—even hour by hour—savvy anglers can enjoy some of the year’s best fishing.

My favorite scenarios are rivers that flow into larger bodies of water, such as the Rainy River at Lake of the Woods or Detroit River at western Lake Erie. In these situations, walleyes from the main lake gather at the river mouth in late winter, then move upstream toward spawning areas as the ice recedes, boosting the river’s walleye population to its highest point of the year.

I typically start my search at the river mouth and work my way upstream, checking channel edges and a variety of current breaks. Main-channel holes are among my favorite stops, because they attract waves of migrating fish and often “recharge” several times during a day of fishing.

Current seams and shoreline eddies also hold fish, but don’t overlook anything that blocks the current or offers winter-weary walleyes a chance to rest and feed.

Top tactics include vertical jigging, either from an anchored position or while slipping your boat downstream with the trolling motor, keeping your line as vertical as possible.

Long-shank leadheads like Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurp! Jig and round-headed RZ Jig are hard to beat because they hold live and artificial tippings well, while yielding solid hooksets. Northland’s new Swivel-Head Jig is another great choice, because the rotating hook gives plastics and live bait extra action you don’t get with fixed-position hooks.

Tip jigs with a 3- to 5-inch scented soft plastic trailer, which gives walleyes a target in the turbid, relatively dark waters common in spring river fishing. A variety of softbaits attract fish and trigger strikes, including Northland’s Impulse Paddle Minnows, Ringworms, Smelt Minnows and even old-school creature designs. Sweeten the presentation with extra scent and flavor by skull-hooking a shiner or fathead minnow on top of the plastic piggy-back style.

Since the water is still very cool, keep jig strokes to a minimum. Often, a slow and methodical lift-drop cadence within a few inches of bottom is all it takes, but sometimes simply holding the jig as still as possible an inch or two off bottom is the best approach.

As the water warms, walleyes often shift into shallower water near shoreline spawning areas. Pitch the same style jigs and tippings toward the bank and swim, drag and pendulum them back to the boat, keeping the jig close to bottom on the retrieve.

Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer, www.chipleer.com, operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call (218) 547-4714 or email Chip@fishingthewildside.net.

Should I Use A Bait That Makes Noise to Catch Walleyes?

Make Some Noise to catch walleyes

Get loud, catch more walleyes

Anglers across the Walleye Belt keep commotion to a minimum to avoid spooking skittish walleyes. But there are times when silence isn’t so golden. In fact, making a little noise can often help you catch more fish, year-round.

“We’ve been taught that stealth is critical to success, but there are many situations where using sound to attract walleyes can increase your catch rates,” says veteran guide and tournament champion Scott Glorvigen.

Nice Walleye

Nice Walleye

To be clear, he doesn’t advocate creating a clamor of cataclysmic proportions. “Dropping an anchor on the bottom of an aluminum boat isn’t going to make the walleyes come charging in,” he laughs. “But the judicious use of rattles inside spoons, crankbaits and other presentations can call fish from a distance.”

Glorvigen likens the art of using fish-attracting rattles to calling game in other outdoor pursuits. “When I duck hunt, I use a call to bring the birds into my decoys,” he explains. “And a rattle bag or antlers are standard gear for serious whitetail hunters hoping to rattle up a big buck.”

 Rattling Spoons Walleye

Rattling Spoons Walleye

Rattling spoons attract a variety of gamefish including jumbo yellow perch, walleyes, pike and more.

In a similar manner, he says rattling lures pique a wandering walleye’s curiosity and encourage it to move in for a closer look.

Such tactics aren’t new, of course, but they’re still underutilized among the vast majority of walleye anglers. “Especially in the open-water period,” he notes. “But even in winter, people don’t take full advantage of how a rattling spoon or lipless rattlebait can bring in walleyes from the surrounding area.”

Besides luring fish within visual range of your wares, Glorvigen says rattling tends to attract the most aggressive ‘eyes in the neighborhood. “The ones that are most active and likely to strike,” he adds.

“And even if they don’t hit the noisy jigging presentation, incoming walleyes will often slam into a more sedentary bait positioned a few feet away, like a live minnow on a dead rod,” he continues.

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Glorvigen has been a firm believer in the power of sound ever since watching Northland Fishing Tackle founder John Peterson use a prototype of the Buck-Shot Rattle Jig during an In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail tournament years ago.

“We were up on Lake of the Woods, and John absolutely put on a clinic, catching fish after fish amidst a crowd of other anglers who were struggling to get bit with traditional silent jigs,” he recalls.

Following Peterson’s lead, Glorvigen used sound to win the 2004 PWT Championship on Houghton Lake, Michigan. “Using rattle beads on my nightcrawler rigs was key to catching enough fish in the lake’s turbid water to win the tournament,” he says.

The $100,000-plus payday confirmed the importance of sound under the right conditions. “Whenever visibility is compromised, due to low light levels, stained water, vegetation or other factors, rattling lures can be a huge factor,” he explains. “They can also help you call walleyes from a distance in clear-water conditions.”

For example, when pulling crankbaits in summer, Glorvigen relies on lures with internal rattle chambers like Rapala’s Down Deep Husky Jerk to widen his trolling spread’s sphere of attraction in the underwater world. “Same thing when pitching jigs into weedy cover,” he adds. “A rattle helps walleyes home in on the bait.”

Troll for Walleye

Troll for Walleye

Glorvigen trolls rattling crankbaits like the Deep Walleye Bandit to draw scattered walleyes within striking distance.

When jigging, Glorvigen recommends a slow, shake-rattle-and-roll approach that gives fish time to move in and locate the jig. “In more open water, you can move a little faster,” he notes.

He also encourages anglers to experiment with lure styles pigeonholed to a specific season or situation. “For example, we use lipless rattlebaits like Rippin’ Raps, Cordell Spots and Rat-L-Traps through the ice on big-water fisheries like Lake Winnipeg all winter long,” he begins.

“But come summer, how many fishermen would think of vertically fishing a rattlebait? Not very many. Same thing with a rattling jigging spoon like Northland’s Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon or the Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon. Yet these rattling lures are every bit as deadly during the soft-water season.”

Toward that end, Glorvigen advises anglers transitioning from late-ice to early open-water opportunities to keep their winter weapons handy.

“Next time you go out jigging in a river this spring, don’t keep the rattle spoons on the bottom of your tackle box,” he says. “Tie one on and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well they work at the ‘wrong’ time of year.”

CONTACT INFORMATION
Glorvigen & Glorvigen LLC – 29 County Road 63, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
sglorvigen@wired2fish.com – 218-301-9072

How Do They Track Lake Erie Walleyes?

E-Z Pass for Fish Helps Track Lake Erie Walleyes

Written by Christina Dierkes Technical Editor, Ohio Sea Grant dierkes.10@osu.edu
from The Fishing Wire

For about six years, students in Ohio State University’s Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have participated in a multi-state walleye movement and mortality study in Lake Erie.

Using acoustic telemetry, researchers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and similar agencies across the region are tracking the movement of fish including Walleye, an important sport fish, to better understand how the fish travel throughout the lake during their life cycle.

In a contributing project funded by Ohio Sea Grant, ODNR researcher Dr. Chris Vandergoot is implanting acoustic trackers into Walleye spawning below a dam located in Ballville Township, just outside of Fremont, Ohio. The trackers in the fish, along with receivers placed throughout Lake Erie and neighboring lakes and streams, act much like the E-ZPass system in place on many U.S. turnpikes.

“Each of the receivers acts like a toll booth, and each fish with a transmitter in it is like a car,” Vandergoot said. “So when you drive by an E-ZPass station on the highway, it records what time you were there, and in which direction you were heading. When a fish swims by these receivers, the system basically does the same thing; it logs when a fish was swimming by that receiver.”

 Stone Lab's Research Experience for Undergraduates

Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates

Students in Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on tracking fish in Lake Erie for about six years. Many have gone on to present the research at conferences, or to jobs in similar fields.

When combined with data on each individual fish – they’re aged and sexed when the transmitters are implanted – researchers can determine where fish go between spawning seasons, whether they return to the same spawning location, and if they spawn every year or take “reproductive holidays” on occasion.

Receiver data is shared on the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS) website, along with general information about the research projects and instructions for anglers who find a transmitter tag in their catch.

“For the first time we can actually follow fish and see what they’re doing,” said Vandergoot. “We’re not relying upon anglers to turn in tags like we historically did.”

Of course, the researchers aren’t just digitally following fish around the lake for fun. “This is very cool science stuff, but at the end of the day this needs to be able to address management questions,” Vandergoot said.

Spawning site fidelity – whether fish return to their “home” stream or reef to spawn – is an important consideration when making management decisions concerning sport fish like Walleye in Lake Erie. For population modeling purposes, it is important for biologist to understand the origin of Lake Erie Walleye as well as where they go over the course of their lives.

Stone Lab REU students have participated in research related to GLATOS for about six years, examining everything from how to best anesthetize a fish for the transmitter implant surgery to how well fish survive after being released back into the lake or after the stress of a spawning season.

The REU program allows students to work one-on-one with professional Lake Erie scientists on an independent research project while taking a Stone Lab course. Selected students receive a full scholarship to Stone Lab, including room and board, and often go on to present their projects at academic conferences, giving them a head start on graduate school or science careers.

One of those students is Zach Steffensmeier, currently a junior in environmental science at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. During the summer of 2015, he worked with Vandergoot on a Fisheries Management REU, analyzing transmitter data and assessing Walleye mortality during spawning seasons in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he was able to work with ODNR staff to collect receiver data in western Lake Erie.

“I heard about Stone Lab back in high school, and went for a weeklong aquatic biology class,” he said. “I just loved being out there, and when I was looking for a summer job this past year, I thought it would be great to go back there. I also really wanted to do research, so this was the best opportunity for me.”

In addition to gaining experience in hands-on research and delivering a scientific presentation, the REU also solidified Steffensmeier’s goal to work in the same field in the future.

“I want to do something with fish, that’s for sure,” he said. “I enjoy being outside in the field for fieldwork, so I’m definitely interested in being a fisheries biologist, whether that’s through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, through EPA, or at a university as a professor.”

And with recommendation letters from Stone Lab and Ohio Department of Natural Resources staff, he’s well on his way to one of those careers.

The larger GLATOS project involves agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the United States Geological Survey’s Lake Erie Biological Station, and funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Ohio Sea Grant. Overall, close to $1 million in assets are involved in this fisheries management effort.

“These projects are very large, and no one funding source can pull these off,” Vandergoot said. “But when you bring different collaborators together with all these different resources, we’re able to do amazing things.”

(From the January 2016 issue of Ohio Sea Grant eNewsletter. To subscribe, visit https://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/subscribe)

Why Should I Fish The Weedline In The Fall?

Fish The Weedline In The Fall

by Bob Jensen
from The Fishing Wire

Weedlines are great places to find and catch fish all during the open water fishing season. Lots of anglers even work the weedline while ice-fishing. Simply put, there is almost always a fish somewhere along the weedline that is willing to get caught.

Doug Veldhuizen

Doug Veldhuizen

In the autumn months hungry groups of walleyes will work the weedline in search of something to eat. Doug Veldhuizen caught this one on a crankbait.

In the autumn months a variety of fish will be in the vicinity of the weedline. You might have a school of crappies suspended just off the edge of the deep weedline, there might be a group of largemouth on a corner of the weedline, and just a little farther down the weedline where the vegetation juts out a bit and forms a point, there could be some walleyes. And it’s not unusual to find a bonus musky or northern pike roaming over the tops of the weeds or along the deep edge. Although there may be more fish grouped tighter in different areas, the deep weedline in the fall will often provide a smorgasbord of fishing action.

Lots of techniques will take fish along the weedline in the fall. If you’re after walleyes, try the largest Mimic Minnow or Mimic Minnow Shad. Move it aggressively: Lots of hops will trigger the most fish until the water really cools off. Then a redtail chub worked slower on a jig or live-bait rig will produce.

If largemouth bass are the target, tie on 6.5 Hornet and work it parallel to the weedline. Work it a different speeds and with your rod held at different angles to get the bait to run at different levels along the weedline. Sometimes, especially on warm, cloudy days, the bass will be over the tops of the weeds. Throw the bait over the weeds, keep your rod tip high, reel slowly, and hang on. If they bass are there, they’ll let you know.

Another outstanding way to catch largemouth bass when they’re over or along the weedline is with a spinnerbait. Use one with a big blade. Tip it with plastic, something like an Impulse Paddle Shad or Paddle Minnow. You want some tail action, but not a lot.

Cast the spinnerbait over the tops of the weeds and work it back to the weedline. When you think it’s near the deep edge of the weeds, let it fall. Keep your line tight and watch and feel for a tick. The strike won’t be hard, but it will be distinct. Reel down and set hard. After a few fish you’ll know if they’re over the tops or along the edge, and sometimes they’ll be in both places.

If it’s a calm late afternoon or early evening when you start fishing, and you see fish dimpling the surface near the weedline, move very quietly toward the dimpling and throw a sixteenth ounce Thumper Crappie King jig/plastic. Swim it slowly through the area being dimpled and you’ll probably catch some crappies. The dimples are created by crappies sucking bugs off the surface. Since the crappies are feeding on the surface, you’ll want to swim your bait just a couple of feet below the surface of the water.

Another crappie killer we’ve been using a lot the past couple of years is a #4 Hornet. If the crappies are home, they’ll hammer this bait aggressively.

The weedline can provide lots of fall action. Make sure you’re fishing healthy green weeds. Keep moving until you find the fish. When you find them, they’ll usually bite. You’ll see Mother Nature at her best and you’ll have the opportunity to have a good time: What more can you ask for?

To see all the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, new fishing related tips, and fishing articles from the past, visit fishingthemidwest.com If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.

What Are the Top Midwest Walleyes Lakes

Top Midwest Walleyes Lakes

By Vexilar Pro Jason Mitchell
from The Fishing Wire

Big walleye caught in a  Midwest lake

Big walleye caught in a Midwest lake

The Midwest is ground zero for walleye fishing popularity. Midwesterners love their fish with the white tipped tails and luckily, there are several great walleye fishing destinations across the northern tier of the United States. Of course we couldn’t put every great walleye fishery on this list and the list is in no particular order. This list is nothing more than some top-notch fisheries that are fishing extremely well right now. Healthy fish populations, trophy fish potential and catch ability all factor into some of the best walleye water we have seen in our travels that in our opinion offer some of the best walleye fishing in the region.

Leech Lake, Minnesota
This massive natural lake in northern Minnesota has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for great walleye fishing but this lake just seems to get more solid each year. There are a lot of walleye in this lake with opportunities for both eater size fish and big fish. What is neat about this big lake is that you can fish so many different ways. From classic rigging and jigging presentations to lead core and swim baits, there is so much variety in this ecosystem that there are usually several solid patterns happing at once.

Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota
Another of the big natural lakes in northern Minnesota, Winnie has quietly developed into one of Minnesota’s best walleye lakes. Perhaps at the expense of the Lake’s renowned perch population, the walleye population is healthy and thriving. Fun shallow weed patterns occur through the summer as well as classic structure fishing over deep gravel bars.

Devils Lake, North Dakota
This now massive natural lake is now nearly 200,000 acres of water when you look at the entire lake basin and include Stump Lake. With high water and a decade and a half of incredible recruitment, this lake continues to live up to its stellar reputation as a top tier walleye fishery. Several shallow patterns emerge that are fun for anglers. Top tactics include pitching crank baits and soft plastic swim baits into shallow water along with classic bottom bouncer and spinner presentations along weed bed edges.

Bitter Lake, South Dakota
The Glacial Lakes Region of South Dakota is very similar to Devils Lake in terms of history and high water creating new fishing opportunities. Bitter Lake is now the largest lake in the region and offers tremendous fishing. Anglers enjoy casting jigs and crank baits along weed bed edges or run the contours with bottom bouncer and spinners. Within sixty miles of Bitter Lake however are countless small lakes that also offer tremendous fishing and some of the lakes no doubt offer as good of fishing as your going to find anywhere particular for numbers of fish.

Green Bay, Wisconsin
Probably the best fishery on the list for consistently producing trophy caliber fish. While some fisheries like the Western Basin of Lake Erie, Columbia River, Lake Winnipeg and Tobin Lake get a lot of attention for producing big fish. Green Bay often gets overlooked. Classic Great Lakes harness and board fishing tactics often shine through the summer with many small boat fishing opportunities on the right days.

Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota
This reservoir on the Missouri River in western North Dakota has been on the upswing in recent years and has several good year classes of fish. Extremely high amounts of forage have actually slowed fishing down over the past few years but there are a lot of walleyes in this lake and they have been well fed. This is more of an anticipatory pick as this cyclic lake by nature is due to really turn on and the stars are lining up. Anglers often focus on classic reservoir structure with live bait rigs, jigs and bottom bouncer and spinner presentations along with trolling crankbaits.

Kabetogama Lake, Minnesota
A classic Minnesota north woods fishing experience. With much of the lake located within Voyageurs National Forest, this mostly undeveloped lake offers that cool wilderness experience. Classic deep structure jigging and rigging tactics shine on this lake. Much like a Canadian Shield fishing experience, this lake is full of sixteen to twenty four inch walleye.

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin
Really some of Wisconsin’s best inland walleye water. Great early season opportunities exist on the Wolf River but as the season progresses, much of the attention shifts back to the basin of Winnebago. Another lake with so many different patterns, walleyes can be found in shallow reeds and rocks or suspended out over the deeper basins.

Mississippi River Pool Four, Minnesota
We would rate this fishery right behind Green Bay for big fish potential on this list. Probably one of the best places in Minnesota for consistently finding fish over twenty-nine inches. A variety of fun patterns emerge including wing dams, trolling lead core and blade baits.

Lake of the Woods/ Rainy River, Minnesota
A very big lake with a huge population of walleyes. The Rainy River spring walleye run is one of the best fishing opportunities there is but what surprises some people are just how good the small boat opportunities are on the Rainy long after the crowds have left. Out on the big water, there are some phenomenal trolling bites that more recreational anglers are discovering with snap weights and lead core.

Missouri River, North Dakota
While the overall size of the fish has dropped off in recent years, the spring run up the Missouri River near Bismarck, North Dakota is still a walleye slug fest where anglers can sometimes score some big catches of walleyes with many fifteen to nineteen inch fish. Pitch jigs along shallow wood and sand bar current seams, slip jigs in faster water or pull crankbaits upstream.

All of these notable fisheries are top tier destinations that attract legions of anglers each season. A sampling of some of the Midwest’s top walleye fisheries but in no way is this a complete list of every great fishing opportunity. There are several smaller and more obscure fishing opportunities that fly under the radar and remember that a great day on a mediocre fishery is much better than a poor day on a great fishery. Is there a fishery we left off this list? Let us know what you think on the Jason Mitchell Outdoors Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/JasonMitchellOutdoors

Also don’t forget to check out the new and improved Vexilar website!! Visit www.Vexilar.com for more info and to learn/see all the great products!!

Good luck out there and be safe!!