Opening Day Inland Walleye – Part 1 Choosing an Opening Day Spot
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. But where are you heading? What options are available? Where is the BEST place to look for active opening day walleye? Opening day weather and water conditions can vary widely, and change in an instant, so picking the best place to be on opening day is a big key to catching the first walleye of the season. Let’s look at some factors to consider for opening day walleye.
The most important opening day choice is WHERE are you going to be fishing. Different types of water bodies react differently to the spring weather and being where the walleye should be active is a good place to start. When looking at different places to fish on opening day, think about a few things. Rivers, lakes and reservoirs all act differently in early season. Traditionally, current helps create more consistent opening day fishing, especially if the weather is unstable or “bad”. Head for local rivers or reservoirs and start looking for spawning areas located next to quick access to deep water. Reservoirs tend to have more water color, and can heat up faster if the winter has been long and cold. Lakes usually have more shallow water cover in them for bait to hide and for walleye to seek out a pre or post spawn meal.
Now that you have found a good opening day choice let’s get into some more detailed decisions, we need to make to help put us on a good bite. First, we want a body of water where there are LOTS of walleye. Opening day fishing can be tough, so being in a place with lots of fish helps. Second, look for a body of water or section of water that has LOTS of options. Spawning areas, deeper holding areas, reduced current, flats for feeding and some cover are all great to have in a section of water when looking for early season walleye. Third, try to pick a body of water where walleye will NOT be spawning currently. Catching pre-spawn or post-spawn fish is a LOT easier than catching spawning fish. Understand the timing of the walleye spawn and pick a place where the spawn is not happening.
Stick to key locations. In lakes, walleye spawn on shallow gravel flats both shorelines connected and offshore. Gravel on windy shores will be more attractive than sheltered areas. Look for feeding flats close to the spawning area and concentrate on these good areas where there is quick access to the deepest water in the area. In Reservoirs, head to the “upper” part of the reservoir, furthest away from the dam. Again, shallow gravel spawning areas are the concentration point to start looking. Find gravel with wind or current hitting it and start looking for feeding flats, specifically with wood cover, and again, access to deeper water is important.
In rivers, walleye will really stack up in key areas. As always, shallow gravel is the key to a good opening day river spot. Look for gravel in slacker water areas but be sure there is enough current hitting the gravel. River walleye migrate a lot, so having quick access to deeper water is critical. Look for the closest feeding flat to the spawning area and start looking for the “highway” between the spawn area and the feeding area and you will find walleye.
Opening day is a magical time for walleye fishermen. Do a little off-season homework to learn the bodies of water around you, pay attention to the signs of spring, apply some basic fishing information and your opening day walleye success should improve this year!