Tips for targeting walleye when the water’s cool and the days are still short
#2 Locate fish by trolling jigs
A good way to locate and catch early-season walleye is to troll a small 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jig tipped with a leech or half a nightcrawler. Keep your speed at roughly half a mile an hour, and cover as much water as possible by zigzagging over feeding flats or working both sides of a sand bar. This type of slow trolling is best performed with a bow- or transom-mounted electric trolling motor.
To get started, drop the jig to the bottom, then let out a few feet of line so the jig drags behind the boat. Let out more line when fishing shallow water and less when fishing deeper water. On some days, the walleye will pound the jig and the hook can be set immediately. On other occasions, the fish will mouth the bait, so it’s best to wait until it’s nibbling the bait before setting the hook.
Use a six- or 6½-foot medium-power, fast-action spinning rod, and spool the reel with four- to six-pound fluorocarbon, such as Berkley Vanish. This set-up works great for dragging jigs at slow speeds, allowing for the quick detection of bites and solid hooksets.
On some days, the walleye will pick up and inhale the jig as it’s slowly dragged along the lake bottom. But there will also be times when the fish bite short, or suddenly start ignoring the presentation altogether. When that happens, switch to a slower presentation, such as vertical jigging.