week or two of spawning. As many of you know, walleyes spawn in specific areas. Walleyes are native to current; if there is current present, they will seek it out and use it for spawning purposes. Tributaries such as creeks or rivers that feed into a lake are prime areas where walleyes will migrate to spawn. If these features are not available, the walleyes will relate to other structures. Rocky or gravel-laden shorelines are the preferred areas. Typically the walleyes will choose shorelines are located on the northern or west side of the lake, which have the longest exposure to the sun throughout the course of the day. This allows the water in these areas to warm up faster. Walleyes tend to hang around these areas for three to six weeks after the spawn. The duration is usually determined by water temperature. Look for any structure immediately outside of these areas such as drop offs and weed beds. Evidently, spawning is an exhausting process (wink, wink!). As walleyes begin coming out of their spawning areas, they stop on these structures looking for food. Fishermen can capitalize on a great opportunity while fish are concentrated in these areas. Structure and Approach One great place to start looking for spring walleyes is the edge of a specific structure. These edges form breaks, which act like barriers to hold feeding fish before they move on. These are physical boundaries between shallow foodproducing areas and the deep water areas of the lake. Here, schools of active walleyes meet concentrations of food and often this is a prime fishing area. By fishing the edges of weeds, drop-offs and other structure like rocks, you will increase your chances of finding a funnel point where fish concentrate. These spots vary, but are based on factors including water temperature, availability of bait fish, oxygen, light level, structure and schooling tendencies. Weeds are often the most overlooked starting point to a season. When the walleyes leave their spawning areas, they follow along the shorelines until they find the appropriate cover that suits them. What is meant by appropriate? The answer is specific structures that offer ambush points and high amounts of forage. Weed lines offer both; they are great sources of food. They offer young of the year perch, panfish and plenty of phytoplankton that the various species of minnows feed on. Fish sit on the edge of the weed lines and ambush prey as it passes. When most of us think of the weed edge, we automatically think of the vertical edge. Do not overlook the horizontal edge. At this time of year, new growth is just beginning to emerge from last year’s old knocked down weeds. This allows more water between the top edge of the weeds and the surface. More walleyes and bait fish will use this space early in the year. This is an advantage to the fisherman because this area can be fished using techniques that will not work later in the year. Success rests with proper presentation. Once you have located the edge and the fish, the next step is to entice them to bite. Your bait presentation will depend upon the specific edge that you have selected. Trolling is the tech- The walleye you seek are not unlike any other predator you seek. They feed when it is safest. In the case of the walleye they can do so very well at night when other predators are at rest. They are truly nocturnal... Bart Rosen guides both muskie and walleye throughout the more defined muskie and walleye waters in Minnesota. Matt Jensen with your next walleye
Thorne Bros nique of choice, especially after dark. Larger baits, such as the ones you would use in late fall conditions, can be deadly this time of year. The Rapala Original Floater is an old favorite. Also, you can never go wrong with the Rapala Husky Jerk. I would recommend sizes 10, 12 and even 14 if you feel you can entice them with a larger profile. You want to let out enough line so your bait is just over the top of the weeds. Remember, walleyes like to feed on prey that is above them. If you are fishing in eleven feet of water, your weed top is six feet down and you run your Husky Jerk at five feet, you will be okay. Walleyes will feed on baits that are ten feet away or more depending on water clarity. Your trolling speed at this time of year can vary. As a rule of thumb, start by trolling slowly, then incorporate series of “s” turns. This technique will manipulate the speed of your bait under the water without increasing or decreasing your boat’s speed on the surface. As you begin to turn, the rod on the outside of the turn will increase in speed, while the inside line will do the opposite. If you are able to trigger a strike on either line, knowing which line was hit will tell you which way to adjust your speed. Rocks and gravel are also dynamite areas to target in those first moments of the season. Look for the smaller rock versus the large boulder reefs at this time of year. Try fishing water depths that are as shallow as two feet to as deep as eleven feet. Much like weeds, these areas draw bait fish. The water temps tend to be higher due to the rock or gravel retaining some of the sun’s warmth from the day. Active walleyes hold in this cover. In structures such as these, a stealthy approach can be your ally. Set your boat up just far enough outside the structure so you can cast over it. Casting crank baits, especially at night, is one of the most overlooked techniques on opening day. This technique works particularly well when the constant speed of trolling will not trigger a fish or your lighted bobber refuses to make itself go away. At times like these, casting offers a different approach. The most important aspect of casting is that it allows you to change things up. If a straight retrieve does not work, Be very aware, the walleye will. Remember, you are in the environment of the walleye. They are attuned to everything going on around them through the sense of their lateral line. Caution, be quiet and your catch ratio will skyrocket.