Thursday, May 11, 2017
Looking ahead to my 16th summer as a professional fishing guiding in North Central Minnesota, I always get excited. I get excited to see customers who have become close friends, the opportunity to meet new people, share memories with families, and at the very base of that excitement is simply to be out fishing. Spring time offers the walleye angler a wide variety of options when it comes to techniques. Springs winds are often unpredictable, waters temps can fluctuate quickly and it can be your ability to adapt and employ different techniques that can make a difference. Do I know everything, heck no! But here are a couple to stay productive from opening morning to early June here in Minnesota when chasing walleyes.
First, Opener morning brings that excitement of getting to hit the water and hopefully set the hook a few times. It would be impossible not to mention the simple yet deadly jig/shiner combo. This technique is so versatile and super effective at presenting the bait to the fish in any depth of water, and at virtually any rate of speed. I like to start out on rocks or sand along the inside edge of the breakline. Most lakes the best area is in 6-12 feet of water, right where the new weeds start and stop. These weeds, mixed with the transitions to sand or rock provide perfect ambush points for hungry spring walleyes. If there is a good wind blowing in, cast the jig out and drift along the targeted depth, hopping the jig along the bottom. For calm conditions, fan cast the jig with a similar hopping retrieve.
A second approach to spring walleyes is one that comes with some type of stigma in the walleye world, and that is the slip bobber. Why do people recoil when I suggest fishing a slip bobber, no clue. Maybe they don’t like to catch walleyes. However, what I know is that it is an ultra-effective way to present the bait to spooky fish and hold it precisely in their strike zone at any depth. When fishing slip bobbers, wind and rocks is always a great starting point. If you are fishing with friends, it is wise to cover different areas and depths until someone starts finding a pattern. Be sure to keep an eye on your buddy though, as sometimes “friends” don’t like to share their secret. Just remember, there is no “i” in team. A lighted slip bobber at night fished from shore or a boat is a classic way to catch walleyes during low light hours as they prowl the shallows eating minnows.
If you take away one thing from this article, just do not get stuck in a box of fishing how you should be fishing for a specific time of year. Yes, there are certainly times when doing what always has worked works, but if they don’t want to bite throw them a curveball and adapt to the changing moods of the fish!
Capt. Tim Hanske
Leisure Outdoor Adventures Premier Fishing Guide Service