Use these lures and tactics in targeting winter walleyes

It’s shaping up to be a good hard-water walleye-fishing season, and the lures you use and the times you fish can go a long way toward determining just how good your fishing outings will be.

For starters, try to maximize the hours you can fish around peak hours of fishing activity. Monitor sunrise and sunset times with the Outdoor News Hunting and Fishing Report or purchase an Outdoor News calendar, which contains this information for each day of the year.

The best times to fish twilight-loving walleyes is about an hour before sunset to two hours after sunset and two hours before sunrise to an hour after sunrise. That’s when these fish like to feed.

As for baits and lures, generally speaking, I begin with swimming lures for aggressive and even some neutral walleyes. If this doesn’t produce, I’ll go to vertical jigging spoons with flash vibrations, then switch to strictly flash.

A third option is slow-falling, flutter-action spoons. Progressing down the ladder, switch to jigs tipped with minnows or minnow heads for non-aggressive fish.

Another good choice is deadsticking. This works for second-hole options, too, with colored hooks, beads, and various minnow sizes. For success, always consider color, jigging action, weather, and fishing pressure.

And don’t forget the noise factor. You need to finish drilling your holes an hour before prime time. So for fishing shallow walleyes later in the day, if sunset is at 4:45 p.m., you should plan on good fishing to start around 3:45 p.m. and should have your holes drilled by 2:45 p.m.

Now, these general rules aside, any experienced angler knows you can have sporadic walleye action throughout the day and night. Cloudy days and stable weather provide the best combination for angler success, but other factors can help, too. Snow atop the ice means less light underneath, and that translates into more hours of walleyes in their favorite twilight zone. And an approaching snowstorm often foreshadows a good bite.

If you have all day or night, and love to ice fish, then by all means, sit as long as you like. But if you have limited time, try the aforementioned times and lures to best utilize that time on the ice.

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