When a good many fishermen think about fishing, their thoughts naturally turn toward largemouth bass. After all, no other species of game fish is more popular.
But in some parts of the country, Ol’ Bucketmouth plays second fiddle to what is, in fact, an oversized perch. Some call it jack salmon, dore or pike-perch. Others use the nicknames yellow pickerel, blue pickerel, marble-eye or walleyed pike. But whatever handle you hang on it, the walleye’s size, sporting qualities and savory flesh make it one of North America’s most important sportfish.
Despite the walleye’s popularity with some anglers, however, it often is ignored by others, even where the fish are common, often because the fishermen don’t understand what kind of fish this is, what its habits are and how to catch it consistently.
Anglers need not shun the walleye, however. This fish is different, yes, but much easier to catch than many anglers suppose.
The eyes are important indicators of walleye behavior. These peculiar, opaque-appearing organs, from which the walleye derives its name, lend the impression walleyes are blind. In reality, walleyes see quite well. Their eyes are adaptations for a life spent in dark haunts. Walleyes shirk bright light and are most active at night.
This doesn’t mean walleyes can’t be caught during daytime. In deep water, where only moderate light penetrates, walleyes strike readily between dawn and dusk. They are more active on overcast days than bright ones, often feeding in shallower water under a cloudy sky. If wind disturbs the water’s surface, diffusing light rays, that improves daytime fishing conditions as well. Most successful walleye anglers therefore usually fish on cloudy, windy days, during low-light periods or after dark.
The type of bottom over which an angler fishes is also exceedingly important. Walleyes seldom are found over mud or in areas of dense vegetation, preferring areas of open bottom covered with rocks, gravel or, outside the spawning season, firm sand. Spawning walleyes avoid sand because it might suffocate their eggs.
Walleyes also are attracted to current, which brings food to the fish. In streams, narrow stretches where the current quickens are walleye attractors. Incoming rivers and major feeder creeks provide reliable and easily located sources of current on lakes, especially in early spring when walleyes use them as both feeding areas and spawning sites. Dam tailwaters also attract walleyes, and tailwater fishing is so popular in some areas that it seems the fishermen must outnumber the fish.
Walleyes are bottom dwellers, too, usually caught with lures or bait worked on or near the substrate. They’re schooling fish as well. When you catch one, others are usually nearby, especially during spring spawning when huge concentrations can be found. Where one is caught, keep fishing until you get no more strikes.
Pages: 1 2