First-ice walleye are generally aggressive, so baits with lots of action, flash and sound make great choices. My favourites include jigging spoons such as PK Lures’ Flutter Fish, Northland’s Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon (above left) and HT Enterprises’ Jig a Whopper Hawger Spoon. Vertical jigging lures such as Rapala’s Jigging Rap and Shad Rap, along with Moonshine Lures’ Shiver Minnow (above right) , also work well.
I like silver-, brass- and gold-coloured lures that give off lots of flash, especially on sunny days. On cloudy days or in stained water, I try natural-coloured lures that match the local baitfish, such as perch and cisco. And on days when the traditional colours aren’t working, I’ll try something different, such as glow white-, pink- or chartreuse-coloured lures.
Over the years, I’ve learned that mid-sized ¼- to ½-ounce lures seem to trigger the most strikes. That said, I still carry a selection of bigger and smaller lures. Heavier spoons fall faster than lighter ones and hit the bottom with a more solid thud. Lighter spoons drop more slowly and, depending on their shape, move more erratically and with more flash. Having a selection of different lures enables you to experiment and find just the right lure for the conditions of the day.
You can also use bait to add both scent and visual appeal to your lures. However, too much bait can weigh down a lure and impede its fish-attracting action. For the best results, tip your lures with something small, such as mealworms, tiny minnows, the heads of larger minnows or, where legal, the eyes of perch or small walleye.