Archive for the ‘Walleye’ Tag



About 50 miles northwest of Chicago a string of lakes connected by the Fox River flows south out of Wisconsin. Called the Chain O Lakes they are just off Illinois Route 173 and U.S. Route 12 near the communities of Antioch and Fox Lake.

This month is the prelude to the influx of recreational boaters and anglers that will take over the waterway for the summer beginning next month. Anglers enjoy great fishing.

Although most species are available in the various lakes of “The Chain” a special opportunity is available to bank fishermen during the month.

Walleye become active in the channels between the lakes and around bridges. Both the upper and lower sections of the chain always have current.  The current attracts baitfish, which in turn attract the walleye.  Any river bends have current and usually at least one deep hole.  Bridge pilings divert the water creating faster current flow.

Walleye are a popular quarry all year around but bank anglers are at a disadvantage to boat fishermen during most of the year. With current flow the walleye tend to move just off the current to wait out the baitfish caught in the current.

During the month of May, the fish are closer to the shore in the channels and around the bridges. Bank fishermen can park along the roadway and fish the areas around the bridges and in the channel by casting slip bobber rigs.  Beneath the bobber is suspended a jig and minnow combination that proves quite effective.

If you catch a fish remember the amount of current flow. When you move to another location seek one with a current of a similar speed.  The speed of the flow can vary from location to location depending upon the amount of rainfall and wind speed.

Boaters can launch at most or the resorts and motor over to the bridges or into the channels. Bouncing the jig and minnow without the bobber around the pilings works well for boaters.

Walleye fishing on the chain can be difficult. But, this spring fishing seems to be the best opportunity.



Trolling crankbaits is a great way to fish as it allows you to cover a lot of water when going after aggressive fish.  You get aggressive strikes at speeds upwards of 3 mph.  The strikes are from the fish’s reaction to what they see.  Walleye are a predator and they just naturally want to bit that crankbait.

On the Mississippi River water levels are somewhat under control in late winter.  Dependent upon conditions upriver, the ice may not be moving downstream.  The result is deep water conditions both above and below the dams.  Public boat ramps are available in each of the river towns and at the dams.

Fishing the diverse habitats created by the river/dam combination is somewhat intimidating to some anglers.  Each dam creates its own habitat both above and downstream.  Anglers need to select a specific dam/pool combination and study water flow, levels, and depths.  One dam may have deep water holes that hold suspended crappie relating to the rocks and logs that have wash into them.  By contacting local bait shops and anglers, a profile of the pool is constructed.

Fishing around anything that looks like deep water structure in slack current is a good idea.

As a predator Walleye and Sauger want to take advantage of timber, of structure so they can get out of the current and have things floating past.  The do move out to get their forage and return to the shelter of the structure.

Walleyes are going to be on the front sides and backsides of wing dams.  Typically there is a wash hole on both sides of the wing dam.  Active fish like the front side.  They feed on the front side and rest on the back side.

Fishing the river you learn to read slicks.  You see these water slicks of everything from trash to leaves and seeds that have fallen in the river.  Fish in the slicks can feed with little effort as the river brings them food.  The fish are on the side of the slick with the least current passing.

Anglers often troll downstream because they believe that the fish sit facing the current.  That is true if they are in the main current.  However wash holes in the bottom create eddies.  In an eddy the current is flowing the opposite direction from the main flow above the fish.  As a result the fish are actually facing downstream.

Anglers trolling downstream think they are putting the lure in front of the fish and they are not.  They are bringing it along side of the fish and not giving him enough time to look at it.

As one goes south on the river, the waters tend to be more muddy.  Up north the water tends to be clearer, an important factor to consider in lure selection.

In muddy water it is advisable to go with lighter colors especially white.  Dark colors in dark water can actually be good.  Fluorescent colors tend to lose their color in dirty water.  It is not that the water is stained, but rather that it contains particles blocking the vision of the fish.  When a fish looks up against the light from the sky it is easier to see the profile of a bait.

In the clearer water up river the more natural colors or shad, perch, crayfish work well.  White always seems to work everywhere in the river.

The fish tend to be shallower this time of year.  If you pay attention, you can walk crankbaits over submerged wood.  Walleye and Sauger will hold right by timber just like bass.  Pitch the right bait up against trees and run them along bumping occasionally.


Walleye Hero Shot

Early spring Walleye fishing on the Mississippi River is dependent upon the spawn.  Nevertheless, when it is on, it is really on!  The action of the March Madness Basketball pales by comparison.

Walleye are lean and mean in body style.  Their lean shape makes them better able to handle current.  Because of it, they often stay close to dams in the fast current and for a mile or two downstream.

Prime areas are around the current breaks.  River Walleye are a fish of highly oxygenated water.  The key to finding them is current.

Retaining walls and rock shoreline as well as rock points sticking out into the current are good locations.  Even those submerged rock piles that appear only as a boil on the surface often contain fish waiting and resting out of the current flow.

These fish will take a variety of rigs.  Perhaps the most popular rig is a three-way swivel tied to monofilament line of 8 to 12 pound test.  On the second eye of the three-way swivel is tied about one foot of 6-pound line with a heavy bell sinker on the other end.  In faster more current, heavier sinkers are best.

Most anglers maintain that it is important to fish vertically regardless of the current.  The fish move up out of holes in the bottom to grab the bait and back down again.

The line from the remaining eye will require about two foot of 6 to 8 pound line.  At the end of that piece is the terminal bait.  A crappie minnow or flathead minnow make good bait.  The minnows give off distress signals with their vibrations.  Stinger hooks attached to the bait will improve success for short striking fish.

Cast the rig just above the location in which you suspect the fish might be waiting out of the current.  They idle in these areas awaiting a hapless minnow drifting past.  By being out of the current, they use less energy burning up fewer calories.  The rocks also conceal them from the prey that might pass this way.

By maintaining a tight line, the angler can control the drift of the rig into the waters where the fish await.  It is important to keep the bait just off the bottom and bounce the sinker.

Minnows rigged on a slip bobber also produce fish.  The key here is the size of the minnow.  The fish are particular and seek out a specific size.  They seem to prefer longer and thinner baitfish.  The angler should have a variety of sizes in his minnow bucket.  Try each until you find the one preferred on a particular day.  Make notes as to fishing conditions and what works for future reference.

Artificial baits with a lot of noise and color of shad as well as baits with crazy colors, polka dots and pinks, work well.  Walleye like bright colors and take blade baits because of the noise.

It is a good idea to keep only the smaller male fish as the females lay the eggs for the next generation.  It is probably a good idea to keep those fish you plan to eat soon.  This helps the resource and provides better angling opportunities next year and beyond.

As mentioned earlier, current is important to locating the staging fish.  The current can be in a variety of locations.  The fish may be staging near shoreline structure or they may be out in the river off humps awaiting food washing past.  A rock bar or eddy may be the attraction.  The fish like to find locations just out of the current, down stream from the structure, where they have to exert less effort to remain in position to gobble up some hapless baitfish as it washes past.

One can cast lure or minnow through rock-strewn areas to pick up fish.  The Walleye is not an aggressive fish.  Where the bite of a sauger is a whump, the bite of a walleye is a tick!  Once you catch one fish, chances are good that there are others in the same location.  One must expect to lose tackle.  River fishing is always a tackle busting situation.

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