Catching Walleye on the Saginaw River

By: Daniel Eggertsen

The majestic Saginaw River travels a 22 mile long journey carrying water from the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee rivers northward to the Saginaw Bay. From here, the water continues on to Lake Huron. By passing through Bay City and Saginaw in Michigan, the Saginaw River provides passage for shipping routes carrying goods from one place to another.

This is not the river's only purpose in life. The Saginaw River is a favorite among anglers and recreational enthusiasts alike. Saginaw plays host to the annual Shiver on the River event. This is an ice fishing walleye contest. Results often show anglers pulling trophy sized walleye from the ice and early spring period of the contest each year.

It is a well know fact that 10 of the top 20 record setting walleye catches have come from the Saginaw River area. One of the reasons walleye fishing on the Saginaw River is so popular is that it is one of the last remaining bodies of water in Michigan to freeze in wintertime. Being an industrial shipping route means there are industrial sized buildings lining its banks.

As a result, these buildings pump a significant amount of hot water run off into the river. This helps to keep a total freeze from occurring early in the winter season. Another reason for the late freeze is the sheer amount of water that rushes through the Saginaw river each day.

Thousands of tiny rivers in and around the Saginaw River empty into the mouth daily. As this water is collected, a strong current begins to form. Water turns at such a fast rate that there is virtually no time for a freeze to take effect. With the water churning in full force, there is no bad season to fish for walleye on the Saginaw river.

In the early days, spring and fall were hotspot times to hunt for walleye. Now the summer season is joining the mix. Not to be left out is the wintertime ice fishing season. Ice shanties and snow mobile anglers can be seen far and wide staking claim to a portion of the ice they hope will score big in the walleye department.

Walleye run rampant in the Saginaw River virtually every day of a calendar year. The best bait selection combination has a lot to do with the current time of year. For example, walleye ice fishing calls for a Jigging Rapala as close as possible to the bottom surface. Match that with a minnow or crawfish, two walleye favorites, and pierce the belly with a hook. This allows for a little natural wiggle in the bait that will spark the walleye attention, even in the frigid winter water temperatures.

As spring approaches, the bait selection is fairly the same as in wintertime. Pair a jig and minnow together and watch walleye all but bite the line instantly. Jig the weighted line in a straight up and down motion, making sure to let it hit bottom each time. Try to maintain line placement with the current direction.

Another good spring time tip is to troll with crank baits to catch walleye attention. A few good ones to give a shot with are Dave Boom's Winning Streak and the Storm _ ounce Hot-n-Tot. Late fall and early winter are some of the best times to score record sized walleye in the Saginaw River. Around November and December, walleye start to make a move towards spawning grounds.

Although spawning does not occur until early spring, walleye begin to seek out warmer water temperatures when things start to turn cold.

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