Top early season baits and lures
Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ll have in my arsenal for
fishing walleyes in May and June. My top presentations include: jig
and minnow, live bait rigs, three-ways, a Guppy weight system, and
crankbaits. Now, allow me to elaborate on some of these
Crankbaits are an underused option, but more productive than many
people realize. In colder water temperatures, plan on a slower,
more deliberate type of presentation. It’s kicker motor time, and
stick with smaller lures, perhaps those with a more subtle
When we’re talking jigs, this again depends on water temperatures,
but I’ll stick with a plain, short-shanked jig with a minnow. Vary
the size of minnows. If water temperatures warm up, use larger
minnows and maybe add some dressing.
The whole time I’m on the water, I’m relating to weather and
activity level of fish. Many fish won’t readily bite leeches. But
if water temperatures reach the mid-50s, I’ll definitely use
leeches. We tend to use jumbo leeches, but medium leeches will be
productive. That smaller profile is good.
In the evening, consider long-line trolling the shallows with
crankbaits. We tend to think of long and slim crankbaits for
walleyes, but that’s not always true. I’ve had good luck casting or
trolling Shad Raps.
Also, when trolling with cranks, we should troll in an S-pattern,
vary our speed, and occasionally take the rod tip and pull forward.
(This style works with multiple species, including lake trout and
pike or muskies.) Don’t just drag it behind the boat; do an
occasional pump-pause, too.
When live-bait rigging, change your bait up and hook it through the
tail. Simple changes like this can make a big difference.
Finally, when jigging, everyone works a lift-drop method. That’s
fine, but sometimes bring it up and hold. Your minnow is attractor
and trigger; the jig is just the mechanism for moving it. So use a
just-heavy-enough jig to contact the bottom and keep it vertical,
and no heavier!