By Team Northland Pro-Staffer Bob Jensen
Walleye anglers taking to the water for the first time after the ice clears from their favorite lakes generally know where to start looking for fish—those post-spawners set up in shallow, warm feeding areas near the rivers or shorelines that recently held their interest.
A lake of any size will typically feature a number of potential hotspots, however, and they can be fairly large. Then, it becomes a matter of pinpointing concentrations of walleyes. I like to do it by fishing fairly quickly with a jig-and-minnow, or even something like a Slurp!® Jig Head and Impulse® Swim’n Grub.
Because I typically focus on depths 10 feet or less, I go with a 1/8-ounce head of one color and a 3-inch grub body of a contrasting color, say pink-and-white or orange-and-chartreuse. If there are two anglers in the boat, each should start with a different combo until the walleyes start showing a preference for a certain shade or combination of colors.
The retrieve is slow and steady; you don’t want to hop or twitch the jig too much. Just swim it slowly near the bottom as you probe the entire area. When you catch a couple of fish from a particular spot, it’s time to slow down and really work it hard with a jig-and-minnow.
If the bottom contains some rock, cobble or other debris, I go with a 1/16-ounce Fire-Ball® Jig and minnow and crawl it as much as possible. On a sandy bottom, I’ll simply drag an 1/8-ounce Stand-Up Fire-Ball® Jig