How to Fish for Walleye: Effective Fishing Tricks and Tips

Walleye fishing tips
Written by Neal Walker

Are you planning to head out for a successful Walleye catching spree? If you answer is yes, this article will provide you with the best ideas and solutions to some challenges you might encounter or anticipate while on the various water bodies in your quest to find Walleyes. Many people assume that just by having the right bait they have all it takes to get back home with a Walleye or lots of them.

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Well, this might not be the case as many fish tend to be attracted with the lures used. If you are looking for the best way of how to fish for walleye, there is a number of factors that you need to consider besides the type of lure that you use.

See also: Best Fishing Kayak: Catch The Fish and Burn Calories

Walleye are mostly a shoaling kind of fish and they are more of nocturnal creatures, implying that you could find them in dimly lit areas. They are usually found in cool water areas, mostly in the Northern parts of Canada or the US. In these areas, you will find fishermen who are quite professional on their hunt for walleyes.

Walleye fish

They have learned the art and perfected it over the years. But if you are naive with regards to walleye fishing, don’t worry as we have got your back. In this article, you get to learn the types of baits to use and their appropriate seasons, basic tricks and tips to improve on or even perfect your skills in walleye fishing.

Choosing The Best Bait

In order for you to attract the right fish to your trap, you need to ensure that you have the right lure in place. This is especially so for walleye. The type of bait that you use for attracting walleyes will depend on the season you are planning to fish as their diet vary during the different seasons. You could choose to use either a live bait or lures which mimic the live baits.

In case you have settled on the use of live baits, you need to find a hook with an appropriate size, usually a hook that’s in the range of 1 to 4. Live baits are what most people recommend since it has been proven that walleyes usually bite best if it’s a live bait.

This should however not limit your choice of baits, as some designs mimicking the live baits have recorded their own successes. For those using lures, care must be taken in the selection of the right hook since most of the lures have more than one hook on it.

Choosing The Best Bait

The live baits to use for the different seasons are as shown below:

  • During spring; fishing for Walleyes during this time will best be accomplished using minnows. During spring,minnows are suitable as live baits as walleyes have a profound interest in them, increasing the probability of you attracting them.
  • During summer; night crawlers and leeches do the trick as walleyes adjust their diet habits to the preference of these.
  • During the fall; the most appropriate live baits will be the minnows just as it was the case for spring. But it will be best if you use lose large minnows in place of the small redtail

On the other hand, if you prefer to use lures instead of live baits, you need to take certain key points into consideration. Walleyes tend to be attracted by bright colors and this is not just for food, as you might attract a walleye that isn’t hungry. It will be even better if you choose a lure that comes with a jig as this may enable you to catch bigger walleyes.

The recommended colors are white, red as well as yellow. White has been advocated for as the best color to use for a lure since it’s the brightest and the best for the reflection of sun rays, perfect for attracting walleyes.

Walleye lure in the hand

The right lures to use during early spring are the light ones, weighing about 1.8 oz.  Heavier lures with jigs, weighing about 3.8 Oz are the preferred type during late spring and early summer, especially in shallow waters.

In case you plan to do your fishing in deeper waters, the weight of your lure should be about 1.4 Oz. During this time of the year, the colors you pick on will also matter. Silver, black as well as brown will be suitable for attracting walleyes but white could also be an option.

During the fall, the use of lures for fishing walleyes is not recommended, it will be best to use live baits especially the large minnows. The reason behind this is that lures usually get stuck to the bottom of the river or lake during this time.

Choosing When and Where to Fish for Walleye

For you to make the time that you spare for walleye fishing count, you need to know where and when to go for fishing. As has been alluded to earlier on, walleyes tend to alter their habits in the different seasons. Thus you need to know the places that walleyes prefer to go to during the different seasons.

The key period during their lives, is the time of spawning, as they will tend to alter their habits depending on the time for this. Thus you don’t expect the male and female walleyes to be swimming in the same place all year round.

During spring, walleyes will most likely be found in shallow areas, a distance of about 3 to 10 feet from the shore. These are mostly sandy areas in the various lakes and rivers. The depth they prefer in lakes is the range of 3 to 8 feet deep, but you can also get them along the river currents.

To simplify your search process, it will be prudent for you to find sandy areas bearing tree barks or objects which resemble trees since walleyes like to hang around these areas. This is especially so during the spawning season during the spring.

In early spring, you will get small specimens of male walleyes at the depths of 3 to 8 feet in the areas where they are spawning. In case you are interested in fishing for bigger walleyes, the most recommended depth of catching them is between 10 to 15 feet deep. This is so as female walleyes usually prefer hanging around deeper areas, to avoid direct sunlight and being around other fish.

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It is good to note that, in the event that you catch just a single walleye, expect to catch some more since walleye normally travel as a school. It is thus not surprising to find a large group of them in one place.

If you are interested in fishing for walleyes in summer, it is good to appreciate the fact that they go to deeper areas as they prefer cooler waters. They normally tend to hide between weed in the deeper areas. Considering all these, you need to have an effective strategy for you to catch one.

Summer fishing for Walleye

During this time you will still find small walleyes in the shallow depths. Other types of walleye will mostly likely be found around big rocks, the gravel shores as well as close to the river mouth and reefs. The appropriate depth of locating them in summer is between 15 and 30 feet. It is good to mention that walleyes will come to the shore for feeding purposes at night during this season.

The fall is considered as the most challenging time to fish for walleyes. By virtue of the weather getting cooler and the dying of the vegetation, it won’t be easy to catch a walleye close to the shore. It is also good to mention, that they will tend to go move to deeper zones during this season. It thus recommended that you try to catch them at depths of 10 to 25 feet or around the middle of the rivers and lakes.

Fall fishing for Walleye

You have the option of using a depth finder to locate areas which have schools of walleye. This is a handy device if you are planning to fish in a lake and it will help to simplify the whole process. It is considered to be economical, time-saving and pretty effective in nature for fishermen.

As much as it is difficult to catch walleyes during the fall, you could capitalize on the feeding time of the female walleye. It has been shown that a large group of them travel to areas that are near the shore during the night for feeding. They usually swim at a depth of around 3 feet close to big rocks near the shore. The recommended time for going out to fish for them is as from 10.00p.m to around 3.00a.m.

It will be extremely challenging for you to catch a walleye during winter. Walleyes usually retreat deeper into the water during this time but for a mild winter season, you might find them in the areas they prefer during the fall. It is also good to keep in mind that walleyes tend to bite less during this time. Fishing during this time can be quite devastating as cases of some people returning home without catching a single walleye have been reported.

The Technique of Catching A Walleye

After considering the type of bait you can use, the right place as well as the time of fishing for walleyes, it is in order for us to go right into the process of fishing for them. There are various means of fishing for walleyes, these include:

Use of Casting and Lines

After selecting an appropriate hook and bait for the season or the type of walleye you want to catch, the next step will be to cast the bait used. It is recommended that you allow the bait to sink low enough without manipulating the line. After that, you can start manipulating the line in a manner similar to retrieving it. See our piece on the best and affordable fishing rods to give you more options.

There are two ways in which you can retrieve the line, either by fast retrieval or slow retrieval. The speed of retrieval is dependent on the season you have decided to go out fishing for walleyes.

Use of Casting and Lines

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Slow retrieval is appropriate during the fall and at the end of the summer since their movement is slower during this time. By doing this, you will have allowed the walleye to spot the bait and then retrieving it slowly will lure it to the bait.

Fast retrieval is more suitable in spring and early summer. This is because walleyes tend to more aggressive during this time. The most likely action of the walleye during this time is to chase after the hook and subsequently getting attached to the bait in use.

The process of Hooking

In the event that you feel something pulling onto your hook, this will imply that you have a walleye that’s biting on your bait. At this time, the next step will be to adjust the hook by pulling the rod back in a firm manner.

By doing this, the walleye on your bait will get hooked and you are then supposed to pull it out of the water. In order for you to remove a walleye from your hook, you will either need to use your hands or a net, if one is available.

The process of Hooking

Caution needs to be taken if you plan to remove a walleye using your hands, walleyes have sharp fins and you thus need to grab them on their other parts other than the fins. In case the walleye you have caught is stuck on the hook, you can make use of pliers to remove it from the hook.


Trolling is an appropriate method to use during the fall. It involves fishing for walleyes using a boat to get to the areas where the fish have retreated to. Among the materials you’ll need is a trolling motor besides the need for trolling rods.

Trolling for Walleye

You will basically need to cast the trolling rods from the back of your boat and then simply allow the lures to follow you as you move around with the boat in the water. This will enable you to troll walleyes as they will follow you.

In Conclusion

In order for you to be successful at catching a group of walleyes, you’ll need to watch out for a number of factors as outlined in the article. It is paramount for their nature of habits and the areas they are likely to be in a given season to be borne in your mind.

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By making sure you have got this right, then rest assured that you will catch a good number of walleyes. Your patient is also a key factor in your formative years of fishing for walleyes as the success of catching them varies from season to season.

The most appropriate time for catching walleyes is during early spring, but it is difficult to catch them during late summer as well as the fall. Be wise in a selection of hooks and baits and your target areas, to be able to catch what you had hoped for. I hope you will find these tips and tricks useful.

For more expert reviews on the best walleye lures, see our article on this informative piece.


Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.