Being a dominant predatory species, Walleye (also known as Yellow Pike or Pickerel) are not as constrained by seasonal differences as other fish. These fish can be caught all throughout the year, though their behavioral patterns vary between the four seasons. And while Spring isn’t as plentiful a season for Walleye as Summer, knowing how to adjust to their Springtime behavioral patterns can ensure a plentiful catching season.
Springtime is a time of mating for the Walleye, when the fish gather in clusters for mating and laying eggs. All throughout the Spring months, Walleye are seeking to reproduce and spawn, and so they congregate towards traditionally established spawning grounds to mate. It is around these parts, during the pre-spawn period, that Walleye are easiest to catch. Doing some research as to where the walleye congregate for mating is key to finding these fish, which isn’t difficult considering how popular and well-documented the species is.
Spring Walleye are often found in waters of middling visibility, where there is not too much mud but where the water isn’t completely clear either. Ideal Walleye fishing water is often described as “chalky” rather than “muddy,” which contains enough debris to keep the water from being too cold while also providing enough cover for the predatory Walleye to stalk its prey. As with finding the fish’s mating waters, tracking down water of ideal opacity can also be as easy as doing a little online research. In particular, you may want to look into temperature samples of various sites where Walleye can be found, as sufficiently cloudy water often fluctuates between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The time of day is also quite critical in planning a Spring Walleye excursion. Because of their ability to see through water that their prey cannot, Walleye are most active during the early dawn and the late dusk, where darkness gives them a significant hunting advantage. Prepare to fish in situations of low or no light, as this is when the Walleye are the most active.
Lightweight fishing materials
Lightweight fishing materials are considered ideal for catching Walleye in the spring, when the fish is freshly emerging from hibernation. Most fishers recommend monofilament line and light graphite rods for retrieving walleye, as their nips tend to be light and hard to detect with heavier equipment. Additionally, natural baits, such as minnows or certain types of worms, are ideal for walleye-catching. As the fish are more focused on mating than feeding during this time, their preferences in lure tend to be a little more picky than they would be in the Summer, and so greater care and patience must be exorcised when fishing for them during the Spring.
Finally, it should be noted that Springtime walleye often gather in shallow water. This is in part due to the aforementioned desire to be in warmer waters, which is also where their bait tends to congregate. In ideally chalky water, there should still be enough clearness to the water to be able to reflect light off of their eyes during dark fishing hours, though directly shining a light in their eyes can scare the fish, and is not recommended. But the lighting from your equipment, if not directed right at the walleye, can be helpful in detecting the fish in shallow areas in the dark.
Even with these in mind, catching Springtime walleye is by no means an easy task, but it should now be one that is more manageable. As with any of the other seasons, it is important to regard the natural inclinations of the walleye in Spring to have productive fishing trips. Just remember to make your Spring trips early in the season, before spawning time, and within sufficiently-chalky water where the fish gather to mate.