Walleye fishing expert Ron Anlauf explains why it’s important to stay flexible in your game plan to be successful at catching post spawn walleyes.
It strikes fear in the hearts of walleye anglers everywhere, and for good reason. The post-spawn season can be plenty tough, enough so that when faced with the situation anglers often come up with the short end of the stick. Fortunately for us there are ways to overcome the situation, especially if you’re able to stay flexible.
Staying flexible may mean a number of things, including a willingness to try new techniques in areas you haven’t been before, or try new waters if conditions warrant it.
Locking in on a tough situation can make for too much slack time, time that could be better spent where the conditions are much more favorable.
Understanding the spawning cycle can give you a leg up on what you’re trying to do and the idea is to stay as far away from the actual spawn as you can. Spawning fish have more important things on their mind and aren’t likely to sample what you’re offering and getting ahead of (or staying behind) the spawn is the key to getting your pole bent.
Basically the bulk of the actual spawn takes place when water temperatures are in the forty-five to fifty degree range. There are other factors that can effect when it all happens but keying on water temps helps to keep it simple.
With that in mind it would be a good idea to key on bodies of water that have the right makeup to warm quickly. Shallow lakes warm up faster than deeper ones and darker water warms faster than clear. Dark and shallow makes for the fastest warm up and can make a big difference on how far from the spawn and just how active walleyes are likely to be.
Incoming creeks and rivers will also affect the spring warm up and do so by bringing in warmer streams of water which can help to concentrate the early biters. An incoming creek that flows into areas likely to attract early season walleyes can be a real hot spot and definitely worth spending some extra time investigating.
Professional walleye angler Danny Plautz usually opens up the season on a smaller lake in North Central Wisconsin and is typically faced with post spawn walleyes; “We’re closed here during the earliest part of the season and usually find fish that have just finished up with the spawning cycle. Even with that the action can be pretty darn good.
The key is finding the old weed beds and where new cabbage is starting to pop up and then working the deep edge and over the top. We’ll also look for weedy flats that have wind blowing into them. Wind can help trigger a strong bite and turn walleyes on.”
Plautz continues, “With an electric motor I’ll creep along and cast a jig and minnow into the weed edge and slowly work it out and try and feel what is going on. I’ll also watch the line and look for any twitch or unusual movement that may indicate a pickup.Cranks are another option and we’ll cast them up on top of the flat and work them back just over the tops of the weeds. That means you’re going to get hung up occasionally but it’s important to keep the bait close to the weeds if you want to be effective.
Impoundments like the Rainbow Flowage in North Eastern Wisconsin are often red hot early in the season as they can produce incredible action and are a good early season option. We’ll troll with crankbaits like the Little Ripper from Reef Runner along secondary break lines. If we find that the fish are consistently coming off of points or cups we’ll turn around and anchor up and strain the area with slip bobbers and live bait. If they’re coming off a straight break line we’ll keep going until we find something that will concentrate the fish.”
Pro walleye angler Rick Olson of Mina, South Dakota will often head for big reservoirs like Lake Sharpe and Francis Case early in the season and will make a run downstream when faced with spawning fish; “Water temps on the lower end of the lake can vary by up to ten degrees from the headwaters, and may be the answer to finding active walleyes.
On the other hand you might be able to find heavier pre-spawners upstream, and can be a real factor in putting together the heaviest tournament catch.” That may or may not be important to you but it’s easy to see how you can either avoid or make the most of a specific situation.
“Another thing you can do is fish at night, as even the most jaded walleyes seem to turn it up a couple of notches once the sun goes down. Long lining crankbaits can be the ticket to the heaviest early season catches and may your best shot a nailing a real monster.”
Deep or shallow, dark or clear, daytime or nighttime, it all has an effect both good and bad. The thing is by recognizing what you’re faced with and adapting to it you can make the most of just about any situation. See you on the water.