Rattling lures will get the attention of walleyes and attract them to the area.
The author caught this trophy walleye was just after dusk on a Buck-Shot
Rattle Spoon jigged aggressively.
Across much of the Midwest and Canada where lakes are clear, nighttime is the
right time for winter walleyes. Anglers know that their time is best spent on
hard water during low light conditions, particularly the hours that surround
dawn and dusk. It’s during these narrow windows that walleyes feed aggressively.
Their eyes are built for low-light foraging. Ice fishing fanatics have also
discovered tricks that enhance their chances of success during “prime-time”.
Stalk with Stealth
Successful winter walleye anglers employ a couple of strategies that they also
likely use when in pursuit of other wild game.
One approach is to mobilize, a concept that has been promoted in most ice articles
in recent years. Like a stalking hunter, a solo angler might auger a dozen holes
scattered across and/or adjacent to structure such as a point or sunken island
and move about, spending a few minutes at each hole before moving on. Parties
of 4-6 anglers might punch 50-60 holes before wetting a line. Then, they’ll
put the augers away, keeping noise to a minimum until pulling up stakes and
moving to a new piece of structure. Cutting additional holes as darkness nears
may spook nearby fish. Likewise, noise from ATV’s and anglers walking
around can make fish wary, especially in shallow water and on thin ice.
The other approach is to play the waiting game. Like a treestand hunter waiting
to ambush a deer, an ice angler can experience success by sitting tight, provided
he sets up on the right spot. Prime locations often get “claimed”
by anglers with permanent shanties. My Otter Sled gets plenty of action as does
my permanent icehouse. Set up on a hot spot, my permanent shack produces as
many fish each winter as the portable. Permanent shelters are especially convenient
during the week for the working man who has to hustle out of the office in time
for the evening bite.
The implementation of electronics by ice anglers has dramatically increased
their efficiency. The flasher is the most popular variety and allows an angler
to detect his lure as well as fish that have moved into the area. When employing
the “search and destroy” approach, a few minutes jigging in a particular
hole without detecting life below means it’s time to move on to the next
hole. If fish are detected but won’t bite, it’s time to experiment
with one’s presentation. Figuring out how to make them bite is part of
the fun. It might mean presenting the lure of choice in a different manner,
changing the color or size of the lure, or switching to a different type of
lure. Without electronics it’s difficult to know when to move and when
to alter the presentation.
Go with Glow
Low light conditions call for glow lures. Today, glow-in-the dark lures are
available in many colors, not just the standard luminescent. LED lure lights
like Northland Tackle’s Glo-Buster
Lure Light can be used to quickly “recharge” a lure. Jigging
spoons, with more surface area than jigs, maximize the alluring qualities of
glow paint and increase the strike zone.
Rattle ‘em Up
Rattling lures like the Buck-Shot
Rattle Spoon also increase the strike zone. Walleyes detect vibration and
move in to investigate. My favorite winter walleye lure, a 1/4 ounce Buck-Shot
Rattle Spoon in Super-Glo Perch provides noise and glow finish in a single
package. Seldom does a walleye appear on the flasher without falling for this
offering tipped with a minnow head.
Rapid jigging gets the attention of walleye more so than a passive presentation.
That’s not to say that aggressive action produces more bites than a finesse
approach. But . . . I’m convinced that an aggressive presentation will
attract walleyes to the vicinity of my spoon. Most days, a high percentage of
those fish that approach close enough to be detected on my flasher, can be coaxed
Night fishing requires some forethought and additional gear. It’s very
important for ice anglers to know their location after dark. Accidents happen
when traveling at night as dangers such as thin ice and even nuisances like
slush are less obvious. When fishing the evening bite, taking the same route
on and off the ice is the best practice.
and lots of them are the key to comfortable fishing after dark. Regardless of
preference for gas lanterns or battery-operated lights, extras offer insurance.
Extra fuel and batteries should be included on the checklist too.
Low light periods are typically the most productive for winter walleyes, particularly
in clear water. A stealthy approach near classic walleye structure with lures
that get their attention will put walleyes in the bucket. Don’t forget
the camera either as nighttime is the “prime-time” for trophy winter
walleyes as well.
The hours which surround dawn and dusk are generally most productive for winter
walleyes. Terry Fish of Billings, MT sets up well before the bite begins and
allows the area to settle down before “prime-time”.
Posted on Sun, December 3, 2006
by Travis Peterson filed under