Ah Spring; time to chase shallow-water walleyes and have some fun. Shortly after the spawn these fish—and most species in the food chain for that matter—find their meals in the shallows during early spring.
Walleyes particularly prefer dark bottom bays that have sand and emergent weedbeds, which warm faster than the deeper water. When water temps begin to rise and forage becomes more available, walleyes pile into these skinny-water locations in large numbers and are quick to snap at likely prey, such as yellow perch and assorted minnow species. Casting a jig-and-soft plastic bait to these fish is one of my personal favorite tactics. Paddletail swimbaits, such as Berkley’s 3-inch PowerBait Ripple Shad
, are a particular favorite.
Early-season walleyes are typically hungry and very willing to attack just about any
presentation, but jigs-and-swimbait combos are the most productive in shallow water.
Simply thread the swimbait on a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jig head, tie to an 8- to 10-pound main line and fancast these well-populated feeding areas. When I say shallow, I mean don’t focus your efforts outside of two to eight feet of water. Keep in mind that your depthfinder won’t mark many fish at these depths, so cast in every direction until you locate them.
A 3-inch PowerBait Ripple Shad loaded on a 1/8- to
1/4-ounce jig head will produce fat walleyes in early spring.
In North Dakota, where I live, you’re likely to catch walleyes
, northern pike
, bass—and even perch
on occasion—all in the same general area. It’s some of the best fishing of the year and a great kick-off to a good fishing season. So, think shallow in spring and enjoy a good casting bite for your favorite gamefish.