By Team Northland Pro-Staffer Adam Rasmussen
Winter kept its grip on the Northland for a month longer than usual this year. As of the first of May, in fact, Green Bay was still about half frozen over. It didn’t deter the walleyes, though. Many of them have already left the cover of lake ice and made their way up the Fox, Peshtigo, Oconto and other rivers and creeks to spawn.
So for anglers who will fish the bay in the coming weeks, it means there will be a solid population of post-spawn fish on the sand flats adjacent to spawning rivers and creeks. They’ll be there to feed, and as the weather and water continue to warm, the walleyes will become even more aggressive.
Typically the fish will be in the warmest water available—either a river’s outflow or isolated pockets of warmer water. Either way, wind and waves will shift the warm-water areas, which means anglers will have to search for concentrations of walleyes.
You can narrow the search field, however, by paying attention to wind direction and keeping a sharp eye on surface temps. But because productive water depths are typically from just 4 to 10 feet, the value of traditional down-looking sonar is limited. Instead, I rely on my Humminbird Helix 10’s Side Imaging feature to pinpoint fish.
Since the walleyes are in feeding mode, I like to start with an aggressive presentation using a ¼- to 3/8-ounce Slurp!® Jig Head tipped with a 4½-inch Impulse® Core Swimbait. Go with something bright, like pink or chartreuse in dirty water; natural colors in clearer water, and rip the jig a good 18-inches to 2 feet off the bottom. You’re trying to provoke a reaction strike here.
If a cold front cools things off, stick with the ¼-ounce head, or even drop to 1/8-ounce jig and a 3½-inch swimbait, and keep the lure closer to the bottom.