Spring walleye presentations: When top tactic isn’t working, try something different
On the morning of the walleye opener, we headed out to fish some current. With the water temps low and the lake level high, we figured the moving water would be a safe bet. Our first spot, an inside bend near an island that is usually a producer, left us blank.
We idled down to another bend with some deeper water and a rockier bottom. At first, we blanked there, too, but my fishing partner and I figured that the walleyes had to be around so we switched up baits and presentations.
Eventually, I landed the first fish while long-lining a jig and a shiner. One fish does not a pattern make, but it was a start. We messed around with jigging in various styles, including trying a drop-shot-rigged shiner, but didn’t land another fish.
When we returned to long-lining, our shiner-tipped jigs started landing fish again. Better ones, too. The key was to have a horizontal presentation versus a vertical one and to move the bait faster than we anticipated.
Popping jigs didn’t work, but if we’d get bit, it was usually because we had started to reel or had turned in the current. I don’t know if these were reaction strikes, like when a bass will wallop a lure that starts to quickly leave its space in the water, but it sure felt that way.
Walleyes were staring at our offerings without much interest until the easy meal suddenly became less easy, and then their prey drive would kick in and they’d eat. It was an interesting morning that became a productive trip, all because we stumbled on a presentation that fit their mood.
The moral of the story: Don’t get locked into what you think will have to work. Try your old standbys, of course, but consider that if you know where the fish should be, they’re probably there. They just might need to see something different to commit. Your job: Determine what to show them.