Whether it’s summer or winter, walleye are generally found within a couple feet of the bottom. And not just any bottom, normally walleye hang close to some sort of lake structure like points, breaks, rock piles and humps. Kabetogama has an abundance of this type of structure. Walleye also like fast access to deep water so check out the steep breaks around points and bars.
During early ice walleye can be found in the same places they were just before ice up. Look for them in shallow water near points and shoreline bars. Combine these with other structure, like inside turns and rock piles, and it’s even better.
As winter progresses walleye move out toward mid-lake humps. Center Reef is a good example of this as is the areas around Cuculus Island. Mouth of the Ash River can be outstanding all winter long.
As spring nears walleye begin moving shallower again into pre-spawn areas. Besides shoreline points and breaks, look for them near river mouths like the Ash River and up in Tom Cod Bay.
Before we switch gears and talk about presentation, remember locating the fish is half the battle. Don’t just drill one hole in 10 ft of water next to a point. Instead drill several holes in varying depths and find the fish.
Using modern electronics can also help you find fish faster. Depth, fish and structure can all be seen using a flasher (Vexilar or Marcum)
The most effective ice fishing presentation is jigging. Jigging is basically raising your rod tip about a foot, then dropping it back down to its starting position. Since Walleye are close to the bottom, insure you’re jigging within a couple feet of the bottom.
Don’t be afraid to touch bottom. Often this will stir up the bottom and attract fish. Don’t overdue it though. You’ll catch more fish by keeping your lure slightly above them rather than on the bottom of the lake .
Jigging attracts fish but unless they’re very active, a Walleye won’t take your bait/lure until it stops. So a very effective method is to raise and drop the tip, wait 3-10 seconds and repeat the raise/drop. Vary the amount of time you let you jig remain still.
Another jigging technique made popular by the pro ice fisherman Dave Genz is pounding the jig. Pounding a jig is basically jiggling your rod tip up and down just an inch or two very quickly.
Now that you’ve got the hang of jigging, lets look at the lure/bait you’re using. There are two main types of lures jigged while ice fishing for Walleyes. Flash spoons and swimming lures.
Swimming lures include the Jigging Rapala and Nils Master Jigging Shad.
|Rapala Jigging Rapala||Nils Master Jigging Shad|
Swimming lures are great for more aggressive Walleye. Usually I put a minnow head on one of the treble hook barbs and start by fishing with one of these.
Northland Tackle and Lindy make lead head swimming jigs which can also be very effective.
|Lindy Techi-Glo Flyer||Northland Tackle Air-Plane Jig|
Flash spoons, or vertical spoons, like the Swedish Pimple and Acme Kastmaster, are a couple of my favorites. They are easily identified by their vertical fishing position and a treble hook on the bottom. Spoons are great for moderately active fish. Put a minnow head on one of the hooks and you’ve got a dangerous combination.
|Swedish Pimple||Acme Kastmaster|
In most places while ice fishing you’re allowed more than one rod. I usually set up either a tip up or a deadstick in either deeper or shallower water. Normally that set up just has a lead head jig and a sucker minnow on it while ice fishing for Walleye.