One of the most sought-after species when it comes to ice fishing, is the walleye: a freshwater fish known for its delicious taste and fighting spirit. If you’re looking to try your hand at ice fishing for walleye, here’s a guide on how to catch these fish and where to find them.
How to Catch Walleye Ice Fishing
The first step in ice fishing for walleye is to find a good spot on the lake or river. Walleye tend to gather in areas with drop-offs or structure, such as points, reefs, and sunken islands. These areas provide shelter and food for the fish, making them more likely to be caught.
Once you’ve found a good spot, the next step is to drill a hole in the ice using an ice auger. The size of the hole will depend on the thickness of the ice and the type of equipment you’re using. A general rule of thumb is to drill a hole that’s about 8 inches in diameter for every 8 inches of ice thickness.
Once the hole is drilled, it’s time to set up your fishing equipment. For ice fishing for walleye, you’ll need a good quality rod, reel, and line. A medium to heavy action rod with a fast taper is best, as it will allow you to feel the bite and set the hook effectively. A baitcasting or spinning reel with a smooth drag system is also recommended. As for the line, braided or fluorocarbon line in the 8-12 pound test range works well.
When it comes to lures, several options can be effective for catching walleye through the ice. Some popular choices include jigs, spoons, and minnows.
Once your equipment is set up, it’s time to start fishing. Lower your lure or bait into the hole and wait patiently for a bite. Walleye can be finicky, so it may take some time to get a bite. Pay attention to your line, as the fish will often give a subtle tap or pull before taking the bait. When you feel a bite, gently lift the rod to set the hook, then reel in the line to bring the fish to the hole.
How to Find Walleye in the Ice
Finding walleye through the ice can be challenging, as the fish tend to move around and are often found in different areas of the lake or river. However, there are a few strategies you can use to increase your chances of success.
One of the best ways to find walleye ice fishing is to look for areas with structure. As mentioned earlier, walleye tend to gather in areas with drop-offs, points, reefs, and sunken islands. These areas provide food and shelter for the fish, making them more likely to be caught.
Another strategy is to use a fish finder or flasher to locate schools of walleye.
Where to Find Walleye Ice Fishing
In addition to looking for areas with structure, there are a few other factors to consider when trying to locate walleye through the ice.
One factor to consider is depth. Walleye tend to move to deeper water in the winter, as the colder temperatures cause their metabolism to slow down. Look for areas with a depth of at least 15-20 feet, as these are more likely to hold walleye.
Another factor to consider is water clarity. Walleye are sensitive to light and are more likely to be found in clear or slightly stained water. If the water is too murky, the fish may be less likely to bite.
Finally, pay attention to the time of day. Walleye are more active during the low light conditions of dawn and dusk, so these times can be more productive for ice fishing.
In terms of geography, Walleye are most common in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Drainage Basins. However, they are quite common in other parts of the United States as well.
Walleye Ice Fishing Lures
As mentioned earlier, several lures can be effective for catching walleye through the ice. Some popular choices include jigs, spoons, and minnows.
Jigs are versatile lures that come in a variety of sizes and colors and can be tipped with live bait or a soft plastic trailer. They can be fished vertically or horizontally, and are effective for targeting walleye in a range of depths.
Spoons are another popular choice for ice fishing for walleye. These lures are designed to mimic the movement of baitfish and can be fished vertically or horizontally. They can be tipped with a minnow or waxworm, or fished alone.
Live minnows are also a good choice for ice fishing for walleye. The fish are attracted to the movement and scent of the minnows, making them more likely to bite.
No matter which lure you choose, the key is to experiment and see what works best in your specific location. Different lures and techniques may work better on different bodies of water, so it’s important to be open to trying new things.
When Ice Fishing for Walleye, Patience is Rewarded
You probably won’t catch your first Walleye 10 minutes after drilling your hole. Don’t fret though; with these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to catching walleye through the ice. Ice fishing for walleye can be a fun and rewarding experience, and with a little patience and persistence, you should be able to land these delicious fish in no time!