Ice Fishing for Walleye

By: Daniel Eggertsen

One of the first steps to successful wintertime walleye fishing relies on understanding weather figures into the equation just as it does in the summer. Another essential tool is lighting conditions. Walleye go into frenzy over low light settings. This is similar to what occurs during an overcast day in the summer. Walleye have a keener sense of lighting than their favorite baitfish snack. So times of lower light levels are prime feeding opportunities for them.

Start winter ice fishing season off on smaller lakes and slowly work your way inward as the season progresses. This method follows the principle that a small lake is going to freeze over much sooner than a big lake. Therefore, your ice-fishing season naturally extends. Steps At the start, ice levels are thinner and mostly snow covered. For that time, it is best to work one ice hole spot so as not to spook walleye that might be lounging just below the surface. As your ice-fishing season moves into full swing, cover as much ice ground as possible in those first trips out. January and February are the ideal months to begin moving around. By now, the ice levels on the lakes are thick enough that walleye will not hear you coming.

Use a depth finder to help determine where the fish are hanging out under the ice. Once you feel that a good area is located, begin making hole openings. With the hole now open, check water depth levels. Move approximately fifty feet in either direction and make a new hole. Check the water levels in the new hole. Make a note if the levels are getting shorter or longer. This will let you know whether you are moving towards shallow or deeper waters. An ideal ice fishing setup will have several holes spanning various water depth levels. Now it is time to start ice fishing.

Notice the action going on around the hole you have created. After about five minutes and no visible appearance from the walleye, pick up and move to the next hole. However, if you see walleye hanging around your hole but not biting, then takes things one-step further. Use more vibrantly colored lures with more action. Keep in mind that walleye move slower in the winter. So does their attention span. You might have to keep at one lure a little bit longer than normal in order to attract the walleye's attention.

Tips

When fishing for walleye, it is always a good idea to vary the size, shape and color of bait you are using. This holds true for ice fishing as well. Any lure in chartreuse, silver or black is effective for ice fishing. Another popular lure color selection is rainbow trout. Go an extra step in hooking bait by using a bigger treble hook. This will let you place a minnow on the hook and still have that all-important wiggle room left over. Creating natural minnow replication using this method will go a long way in attracting walleye attention in the wintertime.

Another ice-fishing tip is to minimize the amount of jigging action you actually do. Keep action in tune with the reaction of the walleye. The slower movement of walleye in the winter will make slower jig movements on your part more successful. Do not expect the walleye to give a big chase for bait. Keep it slow and simple. This is how walleye conduct life during the cold winter months. When you must have a slight jigging motion to your bait, try to pair it with the sound of rattles.

To do this, you can use a rattling hook to send sound waves resonating through the icy waters. This new sound will spark the interest of walleye and bring them in your direction. Sometimes the easy meal trap is the most successful one.

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