How to Catch Walleye Throughout the Year
Walleye will be shallow during the spring and found near main-lake shorelines and tributary inlets. Focus on shoreline structure such as points and ledges or flats adjacent to drop-offs to deeper water. Use a slow, stealthy approach. Walleye are spooked easily in shallow water. Make long casts with a light jig-head and small minnow, jig-head with plastic shad or curly tail, a slip bobber and minnow, or minnow-shaped crankbait to edges or clumps of emerging vegetation, sudden changes in bottom composition, and rock piles or fan-cast across flats and over/along structure. To cover water more quickly, another option is to use a planer board or a long-line trolling technique to slowly troll a jig with minnow, a live bait rig with minnow such as a slip sinker rig or spinner rig, or a minnow-shaped crankbait over/along shallow emerging weeds, structure, or flats.
During summer, walleye will move out to deeper water in the main-lake area or outside tributary inlets. Fish at or above the thermocline if one has developed. Cast jigs (tipped with a night crawler or leech) or a slip-bobber rig with night crawler or leech to specific targets such as clumps of weeds, weed lines, rocky points/humps, and ledges. Another good option in low-light conditions is to drift or troll night crawler or leech spinner rigs or minnow-imitating crank baits over/along weed lines, ledges of drop-offs, flats adjacent to ledges, or other structure.
During fall, walleye may be found in a variety of depths. Good areas to focus on are sharply sloped points, inside bends, and the ledges and bases of drop-offs of the main-lake as well as flats adjacent to ledges. Use a slower presentation, especially in late fall as waters cool. Slow-troll or drift large minnow-shaped crank baits, slip-sinker rigs with larger minnows such as 4-6 inch chubs or shiners, or jigs tipped with larger minnows. Casting jigs tipped with large minnows, large minnow-shaped crank baits, or large plastic swim baits over/along structure and any remaining patches of green weeds is also an option. Vertical presentations with jigging spoons, jigs tipped with large minnows, or slip-bobber rigs with large minnows worked over/along deep weed lines or the ledges and bases of drop-offs can help you cover deep water more thoroughly/effectively. During low-light conditions, try trolling, drifting, or fan casting across flats adjacent to drop-offs.
During winter, walleye can be found on structure such as points, inside turns, and the ledges and bases of drop-offs. They may also be found roaming flats adjacent to the ledges and bases of drop-offs. Try vertical jigging with a jig tipped with minnow or a jigging spoon. Areas that still have green, healthy weeds are good areas to target. Tip-ups with minnows can be placed along/around structure and weedlines as well. Slip-bobbers with minnows can also be used. During the mid-winter/ice period, fish the deeper parts of structure and lake basin areas. During early/late ice, shallower parts of structure or shallower flats may be more productive.