What's In Season In Your Area "Walleye"
So you have your new rod, you bought the latest fancy line that Bob Izumi talks about on his show, and you have all of the latest fancy lures that all of the pros are using this year, you are going to catch dinner and show your wonderful spouse that you are a hunter/gatherer. 6 hours later all you have caught is a cold, and about 1000 black fly bites. What went wrong?
There are a few basic laws of nature I guess we can call them about walleye, that owning a new fancy rod, spiderwire, and the latest "Sure Shot Can't MIss fantastic Rapala Lure" can't beat. When water temperatures hit approx 48°F Walleye begin their spawn. They do not eat or eat very little during this time and for about a week to a week and a half after this period. The good news is that walleye go on an eating binge for a month afterwards. The complete opposite is true at approx 64 - 70 °F which is their 'PIG OUT' water temperature. When the water reaches this temperature it is the height of their feeding pattern. They will be the most active and will hit on anything that even closely resembles a natural food source or a threat to them. That water temperature is so important to Walleye is further shown when you view different water bodies and the walleye fishing in them. In Kingston we have some areas that are very good for walleye, mostly along Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario has an average depth of 283ft (86m). In comparison Lake Erie, arguably the best fresh water lake in the world for walleye, has an average depth of 62ft (19m). As you can see in the information collected below, even in mid May there is a significant difference in water temperatures between Lake Ontario (Buoy 45135) and Lake Erie (Buoy 45132)
where Lake Erie is almost 10°F warmer.
Readings taken May 16,2011
Conditions at 45132 Port Stanley, Ontario Water Temperature 43.7 °F
Conditions at 45135 Kingston, Ontario Water Temperature 34.4 °F
This does not mean that the only way to catch walleye is to tell your wife to start packing, that you're moving to Western Ontario to live so that you can catch walleye. It just simply means that you have to fish smarter. Pick areas of your body of water that are shallower, where the water temperature is warmer. Places along the shore warm up sooner and are your best bet at this time. Pick areas where there is structure that keeps the water darker, Walleye are members of the perch family and they have eyesight that is very light sensitive, even in the middle of the night. They can often be found in dark areas, or even at night, night fishing for walleye can be one of the most productive changes a person can make in their walleye quest. You will find them near the bottom. Try bouncing your bait along the rocky bottom, or if using a minnow-like bait, make it as life like as possible in your presentation.
What to present to the walleye? Their most popular food source is other fish, perch are a popular meal for walleye along with baby bass, smelt, shad and minnows. These are all smaller fish and popular foods for walleye. Walleye eat insects such as mayflies, grasshoppers, crickets, leeches, worms and nightcrawlers. My personal "GoTo" baits for walleye when nothing else works are crayfish and salamanders. Now that you hopefully understand the "natural insticts" of a Walleye I hope you have better luck. Hope to see you on the lake/stream/pond.
Fishing IS a family affair, take your spouse, take your kids, heck take the neighbors' kids out fishing. Share the knowledge and share the love of outdoors. You will be amazed at the glow on their faces.