After years of fishing with one another, a question that always comes up between my dad and me is, “What is the most exciting way to catch walleye?” Sure you can go out and drag a couple of crankbaits around and hope to catch a nice meal for the night, but if you could pick your favorite way to catch ‘em, what would it be? With that question and a brief look into some of my favorite fishing styles we have our first ever blog post on whiskey n’ walleye.
The numbers of different ways anglers have hooked into mooneyes are infinite. A few of these techniques, such as jigging and slip bobber rigging, are older than the dirt we stand on, others such as “Slow Death” hooks, jigging raps and even trolling crankbaits are fairly new to the fishing realm. These latest innovations are revolutionizing the way walleye are fished and causing anglers to upgrade to more powerful trolling motors and the biggest fish finders available.
Some of these newer techniques I use quite often, others I try maybe once or twice a year. My favorite ways to fish are the ways I was taught growing up and the methods I have been utilizing my whole life. Combine these timeless tactics with new age electronics and you have created a 1-2 walleye punch that’s very hard to beat.
A perfect example of this is fishing with a slip bobber – my third most thrilling way to catch walleye. Growing up, we didn’t fish for walleye much using bobbers, instead we saved the bobbers for the colder months and the hard water. However, when I got a little older and started exploring the waters outside of Big Mac, I learned a little about this rewarding style of fishing.
Because I chased around largemouth bass for many years of my life, I have always preferred casting to not. If I have the choice, I will always choose to have the rod in my hand and fishing with a slip bobber gives you that opportunity. The key when fishing with a slip bobber rig is to set the bobber and bobber stop to the correct depth so that the bait remains in the strike zone the entire time. When targeting walleye, you will most commonly be fishing your bait from 6 to 24 inches off of the bottom.
Because this rig can be drifted, casted or pitched, the fisherman has many options and can work the bait as much or as little as he wants. When utilizing this fishing method, most anglers commonly target walleye on a shallow shelf or in an eddy if fishing in a river. The slip bobber truly shines when you have located fished on a ledge but you can’t fish them using a standard jig due to a rocky or snaggy bottom. The bobber keeps the bait off of the bottom and in the strike zone thus reducing snags and catching more fish! Tossing out a bobber may not seem like the most exciting way to fish, but once you see that bobber disappear and set the hook into a toothy rock melon, you might change your mind.
My second most thrilling way to catch chunky marble eyes is with a jig and live bait. Jig fishing is one of the oldest and most utilized fishing techniques in the book, hell it should have its own entire chapter. Jig fishing is by far the most versatile type of fishing and requires the least amount of tackle of any method, because all you need is a jig and bait. Back home in Western Nebraska, all of the irrigation reservoirs create a constant flow in the irrigation canals, which creates a perfect opportunity to target walleye with a simple jig and minnow tossed upstream in the canal. One of the most exhilarating ways to fish is pitching your jig then watching your line take off across the canal and setting the hook hard into a merciless walleye.
A jig can be tipped with any kind of live bait and even artificial baits have their time and place. The majority of the time you will hear about a jig and minnow combo, but tipping a jig with a half of a crawler can also work great on finicky walleye. Because this technique covers so little water area it should be utilized once the fish have already been found. If you have keyed in a few balls of bait fish and have marked a handful of arches holding to a ledge or weed edge, jig fishing can be one of the most exciting and deadly ways to put fish in the box.
The most thrilling and one of the most the productive ways to fish for walleye is with a live bait rig. This can include thousands of variations, but I’m specifically talking about the time-tested “L” shaped bottom bouncer. If you are a novice, bottom bouncers can take some time to get used to, but trust me, they are worth it. The finesse involved in this type of fishing makes it one of the most fun ways to hook hungry fish. Because walleye are notoriously light biters, feeling the bite and knowing when to give them line or set the hook becomes invaluable information to helping put fish in the boat. Although this method is not the most ideal for a boat full of people, pulling live bait is a hard technique to beat with just one or two anglers.
When live bait rigging, a general rule of thumb is minnows in the spring and fall when the water is cooler, leeches in the warmer water and night crawlers in the dog days of summer. Although, some live bait rigs are designed for a specific type of bait, it is always good to have a few choices in the boat and let the fish tell you what they want. Options for live bait rigs include, single hook harnesses, ideal for leeches and minnows, as well as two and three hook harnesses commonly paired with night crawlers. One of the newer and most productive live bait harnesses is called the “Slow Death” hook, which puts the crawler in slow spinning pattern that walleye can’t resist.
Each of these different techniques will be explained in depth in their own blog post when the season is right, for now I just wanted to give you guys a feel for some of the best ways to fish for walleye and some my favorites and most commonly used strategies. Obviously there are millions of ways to fish for walleye, I highlighted these three because I think they are some of the most productive ways and definitely the most exciting ways to put fish in the box.