Late Fall & Winter is the Time for 10 Pounders

Mark Gwizdala

Late fall and winter offer the best chance at a 10-pound walleye – or several of them – in Michigan’s Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. This is open water fishing at its finest. Giant walleyes become accessible to anglers fishing from shore or from boats well into December. If the river is open in January and February, this might be the top trophy walleye spot in the world. Walleyes as big as 14 pounds have been taken from the sea wall in downtown Bay City during the winter. The later open water lasts, the better the fishing.

Total Solutions Technique

Many access points are available on the river. Anglers can park and walk to super fishing spots along the length of the Saginaw River. Most cast large crank baits of the slow-wobbling variety. Evenings and after dark are the best times. Key locations are current breaks near old pilings or bridges.

On the Bay, troll the same magnum lures after dark within a mile of the Saginaw River mouth in six to 14 feet of water. Shad migrate into the river; walleyes follow. The flats on either side of the river, up about one-half mile from the mouth also produce for trollers. I use lights on my trolling boards to make them easier to keep track of. Some guys rig their boards with long-lasting glow-sticks. There is a launch ramp right at the mouth and many more ramps nearby.

Jigging can also provide all-day and all-night action. Channel breaks and bridges hold walleyes. Watch your electronics; find fish; drop down a 1/4th or 3/8th ounce jig rigged with either a minnow or Gulp! Alive Minnow. 

Total Solutions Equipment

In the river, use nothing shorter than a 7-foot rod with 10-pound Berkley Trilene XT for casting large lures. The XT line allows you to make long casts yet it is strong enough to handle the task of bringing in the “Big One”! The same line works great for trolling too, but for gear I use 8-foot trolling rods with the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur line-counter reels.  For jigging, use a 6-foot spinning rod outfit spooled with 6-pound test Berkley FireLine. On the jig, I like to use Berkley GULP! Alive 3 or 4 inch Minnows in either Smelt or Pearl & Chartruese colors.

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Abu Garcia® Ambassadeur® Line Counter Reel

Berkley® FireLine®

NEW Berkley® Gulp!® Alive!™  MInnow