Walleye anglers want to locate spring walleyes as they are 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 to locate spring walleyes. On a sandy bottom, I’ll simply drag a 1/8-ounce Stand-Up Fire-Ball® Jig.
By Team Northland Pro-Staffer Bob Jensen