In spring, many reservoir walleyes are shifting to the higher reaches of a significant river feeding a lake–either to tailwater areas beneath the following dam upstream (if reachable by fish) or to the primary set of shallow, impassible limitations like rock shoals or rapids the place fish can spawn on rocky backside. If appropriate rocky spawning websites exist, such areas usually host nearly all of spawning exercise. In any other case, walleyes usually are compelled to spawn alongside the riprapped rocky faces of artifical causeways and dams.

In giant reservoirs with quite a few rocky feeder creeks, prespawn walleyes might also migrate into main creek arms with appropriate backside content material washed by present. Lake Oahe within the Dakotas is one such instance. Walleyes not solely transfer up the primary arm of the Missouri River to spawn close to Bismarck, North Dakota, however some additionally transfer up into three giant rivers–the Grand, Moreau and Cheyenne in South Dakota–and to a lesser extent into a number of extra giant creeks. Angling stress concentrates beneath apparent dam areas, whereas main creeks usually obtain comparatively little consideration besides from a handful of savvy native anglers.

Bigger creek arms are likely to have extra present, tougher backside, much less siltation, and quite a lot of areas appropriate for attracting walleyes in spring. Small or inactive creeks typically have softer backside and are unsuitable for walleye spawning. The most effective creek arms have distinctive factors with apparent rock to offer potential spawning websites; rocks additionally focus baitfish like shiners, which in flip entice walleyes.

As quickly as ice leaves the reservoir, rocky factors at and simply inside creek mouths start holding walleyes. As water temperatures heat, walleyes transfer farther again into creek arms. They transfer far up into the creek arm till they discover a appropriate mixture of present and backside content material for spawning. Massive, flat, rocky factors extending a long way out into the primary creek channel often maintain essentially the most fish.

Experiment to search out the most effective depth for concentrating on prespawn walleyes. On spring days when the water is warming, lively walleyes usually transfer up into 4 to 10 toes of water atop the factors. Throughout a chilly entrance or during times of much less exercise, they might drop down into the 15- to 30-foot vary. The most effective technique is to concurrently cowl each shallow and deep ranges till you possibly can set up a depth sample.

I wish to work alongside the sides of factors, casting atop the purpose with one rod whereas masking the adjoining drop-off with a deadrod positioned in a rod holder. For the rod positioned in a holder, I like to recommend a bottom-bouncer livebait rig tipped with a rainbow or shiner minnow on a plain hook; I take advantage of a 4-foot snell. Use sufficient weight for the bouncer to hold practically vertical as you progress slowly alongside together with your electrical motor, following the contour. Let loose simply sufficient line for the bouncer to droop simply above backside more often than not. If it drags too usually, it affords an excessive amount of resistance for light-biting walleyes. If it is suspended, a walleye can inhale the bait with out sensing the load. Fish hook themselves if they do not sense the load.

Use an 8- to eight 1/2-foot baitcasting rod with a mushy tip; a stiff tip creates an excessive amount of resistance, and fussy fish will drop the bait instantly. A mushy tip bends considerably underneath stress and alerts you to the presence of a fragile pickup.

For casting atop factors, most anglers choose a 1/8-ounce jighead tipped with a fathead or shiner minnow. Forged proper up into the shallows, let the jig fall to backside, and impart a sluggish lift-drop retrieve again to the boat. Six-foot medium-weight spinning gear with 6- or 8-pound-test monofilament gives good casting distance and balances properly with light-weight jigs.

In recent times, I’ve had spectacular outcomes by tipping jigs with plastic tails moderately than livebait. Most days, plastic tails appear to work in addition to minnows, with out the trouble of coping with livebait. My finest producer has been Berkley’s 5-inch Powerbait Jerk Shad in pearl white. I pinch off the primary inch of the physique to scale back the profile and work it much like a jig and minnow. Missed strikes are uncommon; I consider the added buoyancy of the plastic helps fish inhale the bait simpler. Many instances, all the combo is fully throughout the fish’s mouth.

Opposite to public opinion, water temperature would not appear to have an effect on the productiveness of plastic, with wonderful catches all the way down to 35F. Admittedly, on days when the chunk was actually powerful, livebait tended to outproduce artificials. However total, these plastic tails carefully imitate smelt or shiner minnows, they usually’ve develop into an vital addition to my walleye arsenal.

Come spring, when everybody else is making a mad sprint to tailwaters beneath dams, think about a distinct plan. Head up a big creek, decide whether or not the fish are shallow or deep, and expertise the most effective bites of the early season. n

*Dan DeJaeghere, previous Skilled Walleye Path Rookie of the Yr, lives in Walker, Minnesota.

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