Bob Jensen column: Fishing the transition walleyes
In many areas of the Midwest, walleye fishing for the next couple of weeks will be one of transition. And, with the strange weather so far this year, this transition period could be even a few days longer than ordinary. For the most part, the walleyes have completed their annual spawning ritual and are starting to move in the direction of their summer feeding haunts. However, this movement usually takes a little while. While they are in this period of moving away from spawning areas and to feeding locations, the fish can be a little difficult to stay on. They could be in one spot today and somewhere completely different a couple of days later. Here are some ideas for catching more walleyes during this transition period.
Remember that the male fish usually start biting a little sooner than the females. Apparently the spawn is more physically taxing for the females so they take longer to recover from it. The males go on the bite right after the spawn. Males are usually smaller than females in the fish world, but that doesn't mean you won't catch any big fish. You might, but it's more likely that your catch will be dominated by smaller fish.
It works well to continue to fish near the areas where the spawn occurred. Walleyes generally spawn on sand or rubble areas that taper gradually. Current is good. After the spawn they'll hang around these areas for a little while. If you can find a drop-off or an emerging weedbed near the spawning area, be sure to work that area over pretty good.
There are several good ways to fish for walleyes now. I prefer to use a faster presentation to locate the fish, then once they're located it works well to slow down.
The fish will still be shallow, especially in stained water lakes. Casting will often be most productive, but if you prefer trolling or drifting, get your baits away from the boat to prevent spooking. This is even more important in clear water.
Start off throwing a crankbait. The new Frenzy Flicker Shad have been very productive in the past year. Start with the #5 size: If the fish are eating it good, go to the #7.
When you find an area that has some fish, and when the aggressive biters have all been caught on the crankbait, work a jig/soft bait combination through the area. This slower presentation will take some fish that wouldn't respond to the crankbait. A Mimic Minnow jig head tipped with a three or four inch Gulp! Minnow or Power Minnow will catch those fish.
When that action slows down, put a leech under a slip-bobber and let is swim around in the area a little while. That will usually result in a few more walleyes.
Right now the walleyes are moving from their spring areas to their summer areas. You can intercept that movement if you keep these simple ideas in mind.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)