Tips for targeting walleye when the water’s cool and the days are still short
#1 Find warm-water locales
To find early-season walleye, look for the warmest water in the system. This is where the walleye will be feeding on the aquatic creatures that come alive as spring unfolds and the water warms up after ice-out. As a guideline, walleye will spawn when water temperatures exceed 40°F, and start biting well when it’s warmer than 50°F. And once the water is between 60 and 65°F, the fish will go into a feeding frenzy.
Prime areas typically feature shallow water and sandbars along northern and eastern shorelines that receive the most daily sunshine. Other good bets include flooded back bays, dark-bottom mud flats, shorelines with exposed rocks that gather the sun’s heat, and creek mouths where spring runoff brings in warmer water. Finding an area where the water is one or two degrees warmer than the rest of the lake can pay huge dividends.
Since early-season walleye are typically caught in water depths ranging from three to 10 feet, they can often be targeted either from shore or a boat—and that makes for a wide variety of effective presentations. The following are my favourites.