Opening Day Inland Walleye – Part 2 Catching Opening Day Walleye
By Lance Valentine
Opening day-the day we’ve been waiting for is finally here! The boat is cleaned, rods are rigged, and walleye await. You’ve found a spot that should be holding some active walleye, so how do we approach catching walleye that are just getting fired up about the season? A few things are consistent with catching opening day walleye wherever you fish for them.
First, opening day presentations need to be versatile in their speed range. Most walleye on opening day are either very close to spawning or just got done spawning, so fishing slow to medium speeds is usually most effective. One of my favorite ways to fish opening day walleye is a jig. Probably the most versatile lure available, a jig can be fished at any speed, can present plastics and/or live bait and can be fished at any depth. Jigs can be vertically jigged in current or deep water, cast to shallow current or flats, slowly dragged along the bottom or cast into cover. When vertical jigging, look for a jig with the line tie on top, a pointed nose and fish jigs a little “too heavy”. When casting plastics or bait, I like “stand up” style jigs or jigs designed to be weedless. Traditionally these jigs will have the line tie located near the nose. Hook on a good lively minnow or leech or fish a plastic tail and you are ready to catch some walleye.
Another opening day favorite are crankbaits. Crankbaits can be cast or trolled in any depth of water and imitate the baitfish that walleye so desperately need to find this time of year. Make sure your early season selection contains cranks of varying sizes, shapes and actions. This is the only time of year I will lean toward fishing natural colored lures since I believe the walleye are not yet active enough to chase bright lures like they will in the warmer water of late spring and summer. I prefer wood baits this time or year, but don’t ever hesitate to try plastic cranks. Sometimes, the change in action and sound can really be a key to catching more fish.
If the walleye are especially finicky, or concentrated in a small area, there is no better way to get them in your boat than a slip bobber and a leech. The ability to keep a very attractive live bait right in the nose of a walleye will turn even the most negative fish into a biter at some point. Use larger slip floats and add a small bright colored jig to attach the leech to. This helps “pin” the leech at the proper depth and adds a flash of color making it easier for walleye to find your offering. Catching opening day walleye can be a challenge but try these three techniques and you should see some great success this spring.