walleye on the lakes around home go deep in the wintertime and are tough to catch. plus, during the coldest winters our lakes freeze just thick enough to prevent getting a boat on the water. winter is a prime time to catch walleye below the dams because the fish migrate up river in search of a feeder stream where they intend to spawn on riffles. sandy humps and deep holes adjacent to the humps are the key areas to search for wintertime walleye in the tailraces.
keeping a constant vigil on your electronics is critical to find walleye congregating in the slack water next to current on the back side of a hump or fish that drop down into the deeper holes near the hump. walleyes in the tailraces tend to hug the bottom, so you should select lures that reach the river’s floor in a hurry. adding a 3- to 4-inch shiner minnow to the back of the jig makes the lure more appealing to wintertime walleye. knowing your jig retrieves can be a huge difference maker in the hunt for winter walleye.
through the winter, i’m able to find catchable walleyes on the missouri waters of smithville, truman, and table rock lakes. the trick is knowing where to look. then i drift across these areas with minnows–or salted minnows where live bait is not permitted. a few feet to the right or left can mean no strikes. the key is staying where the walleyes want to be. most winter walleyes hold tight to the bottom. other times hits may be soft, no more than a light twitch or the line might suddenly start moving sideways. the idea is to let that walleye study your bait by hanging it in front of the fish’s nose. keep in mind that walleyes can detect strange odors, so use glue with the least odor.
i like to use a much smaller jig or lure during the coldest weather. the key is placing your bait in front of the walleye’s face, a feat accomplished by patience and lots of time in uncomfortable weather conditions. the couch and a football game are warmer, but not nearly as satisfying as catching a 6-pound walleye on 4-pound-test line. nightcrawlers are more effective with a shot of air with a hypodermic needle so they float off the bottom better. i like to use the current for trolling or bumping baits, lures or jigs across the bottom. walleyes often hook themselves because of this little motion. use plenty of weight, about a foot up from the lure, to hold each presentation on the bottom. despite the cold temperatures and lowered pace of life for walleyes, winter is an excellent (and overlooked) time to go after these challenging and great-eating fish. kenneth l. kieser is an award-winning writer of 38-plus years who is a member of the national fresh water fishing hall of fame and waterfowlers hall of fame as a legendary communicator. kenneth l. kieser is an award-winning writer of 38-plus years who is a member of the national fresh water fishing hall of fame and waterfowler’s hall of fame as a legendary communicator.
walleye on the lakes around home go deep in the wintertime and are tough to catch. plus, during the coldest winters our lakes freeze just thick enough to start by moving to likely spots around rocks or weed beds and fish vertically. minnows or nightcrawlers are dropped straight down and either suspended or low light periods are typically the most productive for winter walleyes, particularly in clear water. a stealthy approach near-classic walleye structure with, .
when late-winter walleye really start snapping as the weather warms, turn again to jigs and spoons tipped with minnows. ball-head jigs of 1/4- or 3/8-ounce work well in most situations, and you can hook the minnow by the head. to save on bait, push the hook point through the minnow’s mouth and up through the head. fish the lure vertically, just off the bottom, with short, sharp upward jigs, followed by a brief pause. expect some hits to come on the pause; join us as we go over how we fish for winter walleye. we no fishing season is more hotly anticipated than the first-ice walleye bite, which begs the question: what are the top winter walleye lures?, .
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