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      Targeting walleye - the basics     
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adam
Moderator
 
03/21/2020 03:44PM
When you get to a lake you don't know, what are your strategies for finding the walleyes? What type of structure, location, etc do you look for?

 
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Moonman
distinguished member(898)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/21/2020 06:44PM
Depends on time of year. Depth wise, from opener to mid June shallow. Although the biggest fish will move slightly deeper a week or so earlier. Mid June to first week of sept they can be all depths but try second drop if there is one 15-25’ deep. They will always move shallower low light and at night.

Walleyes like current so river mouths, as well as moving (even slow moving) water above a rapid or falls. In lakes, neck down areas, areas between close islands, even a regular looking shoreline that has wind blowing onto it for a few days will have more walleyes in it than the opposite, leeward shoreline. One key is to try and combine likely depths with structure like drop offs, humps, points, saddles etc. on a non descript lake with minimal structure anything you find that is different can draw in walleyes. I’ve found that if you are on a mainly rocky lake, any isolated patch of weeds, even scrubby thin stuff, will always be a good walleye spot or at least a good spot to try. Lastly don’t forget suspended walleyes. Especially in later summer and fall they can be suspended out over deep water on very clear lakes or just off deep structure in more fertile lakes. But really if in canoe country you will always find some walleyes in current areas, just a bit deeper than the smallmouth.

Moonman.
 
03/21/2020 07:41PM
I will concentrate my initial searching trolling around the first break line off of the mainland and islands. Usually starting around 10 feet deep, and gradually working deeper until I find fish. If I can find any areas with current I will fish those areas exceptionally hard. I will try to find mid lake humps and reefs as I travel around the lake. My eyes are always on my depth finder. Sometimes a difference of a couple feet in depth can be the difference in putting fish in the canoe. I use the same strategy fishing points, especially when the wind is blowing into the point. Another good strategy is drift fishing. Drifting into points, or drifting parallel to the mainland or islands until I find the depth where the fish are at. Let the wind do the work for you.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13089)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
03/21/2020 10:24PM
I look for a shallow bay say 10-15’ that looks like a C that is next to deeper water. Why? The baitfish hide in the shallow bays and the walleyes come in to feed then go back out to the safety of the deeper water.

I hardly ever catch a walleye in flat do nothing bottoms, it’s structure they like. They will only be on the flats when on the move between the feeding and resting places. Walleyes don’t like flat sandy bottoms. They like rocky bottoms. I think because rocky bottoms hold baitfish.

I also try to fish the shadows. This means to fish on the East side of the lake in the morning and the west side in late afternoon. Walleyes don’t like full sunlight and will be in the shade. I tested this out one trip with my Downscan imagining sonar in Ontario. I would be fishing huge underwater cliffs, giant boulders or drop offs. On the sunny side of the bolder there were zero fish marked, on the shady side I could clearly see they were stacked up like cordwood. I can split screen between the downscan imagining and the sonar for a realistic look at the structure.

I also have a Navionics chip in my depth finder that has every lake in North America. This allows me to fish a lake an record information onto my chip. Then next time I put the chip into my computer I upload that data and download any new data. This gives me an accurate topo map underwater. I then look for any humps, saddles, narrow points, and structure that a fish might like. I do this before the trip on my computer then enter in waypoints to go to the waypoint when I’m on the lake. This gives me data of the lake bottom in one foot increments. Even if the lake has never been sonar mapped before, someone with a navionics chip probably has fished the area and done a partial map of the bottom.

Not everyone here will have or want to take a depth finder with. It is costly and heavy. So you will be left up to a map to get you close to some of the structure I talked about.
Just put yourself as a walleye and ask would I find a meal here? Because that’s what a walleye is thinking. If it’s a big drop off to 40 feet, don’t fish there because there is not a meal to be had there. Look on your maps a find streams that dump into the lake and fish there. That is because all sorts of insects, frogs, leeches, and minnows will be emptied out into the main lake for walleyes to eat. Walleyes do two things in life, make more walleyes and eat. Fish where the food is.
 
Ambushunter
member (20)member
 
03/24/2020 10:11AM
I lucked into a pretty reliable walleye spot. Winds were wicked and couldn't get out of a bay, so beached on an island and was casting around the island. Caught one small one, then two more that were 29-1/2" and 30". Lost another big one at the bank and they stopped biting. I can troll that area and pick up at least one or two pretty easy. I have started trolling everywhere I go, if I am not fishing along the way.

Lures of choice, rapalas or other walleye style divers. I only go in early June though. To impatient to drift a jig.
 
adam
Moderator
 
03/26/2020 02:07PM

A few of my strategies:

- Fish close to "Home" - Most campsites had been used as campsites well before the BWCA became a thing. Nearby fishing was likely a good reason to setup camp in a location. It isn't always the case but very well can be. I use my LC-10 fish finder and check out around the campsite. A bonus if you can cast to a spot from shore.

- I will try to fish the islands. If you find them by canoe around an island, then this provides a great opportunity to stretch the legs and fish from the islands itself.

- Simple setup. I use a jig and leech or the TGO method of a red #8 hook with split shot 18 inches up.
 
03/26/2020 05:42PM
Look for moving water, always a pretty safe bet. Cast into the current and let your bait drift back to you a bit before starting a retrieve.

If no moving water, fish areas that the wind is blowing into or through. Wind blown bays, choke points between islands.

Other than that depends on the season - look at the shoreline nearby for an indication of drop off. Canoe along the shore and see what kind of structure is there, wood, rocks, etc. Walleye generally prefer rocky areas in my experience, but I have caught them in wood piles too. Guessing they follow the food.

Start shallow and gradually move deeper, troll until you catch a fish and then try casting the same area for a while to see if there are others.

Still fishing with a bobber can be a blast and produce numbers and good sized fish if the timing is right. Morning and evening seem to be best. Leech, or a piece of worm depending on the fish...#4/#6 hook with a split shot maybe 18 inches above.

 
H2OFanatic
member (11)member
 
03/27/2020 12:58PM
I was paddling on Basswood one day and saw an island that looked fishy. Something about it - kinda off by itself, few big boulders breaking surface, long windward side, decent breeze. As I got closer I saw that my eyes hadn't deceived me. My fish finder showed various sized underwater boulders all along the windward side and stretches of gradual drop offs and some ledge type dropoffs from shore down to 40+'. I paddled out to the deep side and enjoyed drift after drift up the incline to the beach. Using a jig (yellow bucktail w pumpkinseed twisty) I caught big walleye as soon as I started fishing the 40' side. I also found pike mixed in with them. As I drifted shallower the smallmouth showed up at 25' (replacing the walleye) and continued all the way to shore. Pike continued to mix in. The action slowed towards noon but easily one of the best mornings ever fishing the BWCA, followed by a perfect shore lunch and a cool afternoon nap! Slice of BWCA heaven.
 
missmolly
distinguished member(6580)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
03/28/2020 07:55AM
I don't know much about catching walleyes beyond current. If there's a stream emptying into a lake, I can catch them there. Is there's a stream emptying out of a lake and something pinches the lake, like islands or a strait, that's nearly as good. A small stream means smaller numbers of walleyes.
 
schucanoe
member (30)member
 
03/31/2020 01:09PM
All good recommendations. Quetico provides the opportunity to fish dozen's of lakes with the same success of most fly-in trips at a fraction of the cost. It's the unwillingness to put in "sweat equity" and the comfort level required by many fisherman that clears the path for the rest of us to enjoy the solitude of catching fish from a canoe while soaking in the surroundings with no outside interference.
Most of my trips are in mid-late summer so I spend much of my time vertically jigging or slowly dragging jigs with a variety of plastics off of structure areas extending off of islands, points, or sunken reefs. My best success is to drag slowly just off vertical to 45 deg but maintaining the ability keep in contact with bottom with an appropriate weight of jig. I usually find myself using a 3/8 oz. jig most of the time. I usually try different depths from shallow all the way to 30' depending on water stain and light conditions. The last few trips I have began using ripping raps and jigging raps and have found good success. The bites you get when using these are often very aggressive and sudden compared to the "glomming" bites one often detects when fishing with plastics. If fishing a new lake I would recommend using Google Earth to locate sunken reefs. Some of Quetico's coverage is spotty and not very clear but the imagery on some is very good. I have found some of my favorite locations to fish on Sturgeon Lake this way.
 
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