Walleye Fishing Techniques & Strategies
Walleye fishing is a brand of fishing that requires a fair amount of knowledge in order to achieve success. The walleye can be quite fickle in their choice of food, and the way it is presented. Never is it more important to understand walleye fishing strategies and fishing structure than it is when you’re out walleye fishing.
Let’s first understand the makeup of the walleye.
Walleye prefer cooler water, and are found more so in the northern half of the United States and in Canada. Walleye have extremely good eyesight and have excellent vision in low light conditions. Eyesight is the walleye’s number one competitive advantage over their prey.
Because walleyes see so well in the dark, it allows them to prey on baitfish easily in lower light conditions. Perch are known to have very poor eyesight when compared to other fish species. It just so happens that perch are a main source of food for walleye because of the advantage that the walleye have in visibility over the perch.
Walleye fishing strategies require you to understand their competitive advantage. All of your fishing strategies for walleye should take into account their keen eyesight, especially in low light conditions.
Have you ever heard the term “walleye chop”? What fishermen are referring to by this is that the wind is strong enough to create a “choppiness” on the surface of the lake or river. The reason that a good walleye chop is to the fisherman’s advantage is because it means that walleye are more apt to be feeding during the middle of the day.
It all stems from the walleye being sensitive to the light. Because they are light sensitive, they don’t need as much light to see as other fish species do. When there is ample light for all fish species to see, then the walleye have just lost their competitive advantage over their prey. When this is the case, they generally seek shelter in deeper water and aren’t as likely to feed until the light gets dimmer.
So back to the walleye chop. Fishermen like a good choppy surface on the water because that decreases the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the water’s surface. Visualize a calm surface on the water. When this is the case, the sun’s rays can shine right through the water surface. On the contrary though, when there’s enough wind creating waves or even white caps on the water, the uneven surface actually refracts the sun’s rays and disperses the sunlight at different angles and prevents the sun from penetrating as deep in the water.
When the sun penetrates less, it means that walleye don’t have to seek shelter as deep. It creates a visibility competitive advantage closer to the surface of the water, and therefore more accessible to fishermen.
Pair a good walleye chop with overcast skies, and now even less sunlight penetrates the water’s surface. Are you getting the idea? This means that walleye will be more active even closer to the surface of the water, making it easier to locate the fish.
When walleye fishing, your whole goal is to focus your fishing efforts on the days, and times of days when the sunlight has the least penetration on the surface of the water. Read this article to better understand walleye fishing strategies and learn how to catch more walleyes. Some of the best walleye fishing tips can be learned by knowing why walleyes behave the way they do. And understanding the best walleye fishing conditions will help explain why, where and how to catch walleye.
Ideal walleye fishing conditions:
- Early morning
- Overcast skies (with or without rain)
Obviously you can’t fish during both the morning and evening at the same time, but the more of these four conditions that you can find at the same time, the better your chances of catching walleye will be. Your ability to find the walleye will compound as you add a new favorable condition to the walleye fishing situation.
For example, let’s say you start out fishing early in the morning (that’s one favorable condition because the sun is lower in the sky), and before too long, the wind picks up and creates some decent waves on the waters surface to lessen the light penetration. Now you have two favorable conditions on your side at the same time. And shortly after the wind picks up, clouds roll in lessening the amount of sunlight available. Now you’ve just added a third favorable condition to your situation…your chances of catching walleye have now increased drastically because the weather conditions have naturally prevented the sunlight from negatively affecting the walleye’s strategy of using their keen eyesight to prey on bait fish.
The key to fishing in general, not just walleye fishing, is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the species of fish you’re fishing for. Walleye, and all other fish species, are in a fight for their life each and every day. Food and shelter are the only things that matter to a fish, except during the spawn, and then sex dominates their thought process. Our job as fishermen is to put ourselves strategically in places on the lakes and rivers where the fish are searching for food that gives them a competitive advantage over their prey, while still having access to cover, structure and safety. Then we need to use the right walleye lures that imitate their natural prey.
Here are some additional walleye fishing facts to help you add to your walleye fishing strategies.