For those without access to boats and motors, walleye fishing needn’t be out of reach. All across the U. S. and Canada, piers, breakwaters, riprap and dams offer public foot access to excellent angling, even on large bodies of water. And in many communities, local parks and boat accesses offer fishing opportunities on a smaller scale via public docks or fishing piers specifically located and designed to maximize their effectiveness for dock walleyes. Most recently constructed piers are wheelchair accessible, enabling anglers to establish prime casting positions near dropoffs or current breaks where their chances for success are high. Even for walleyes.
Rivers are mainstay walleye fisheries with public dock facilities, particularly those constructed in the tailwaters of dams, often adjoining the main washout hole where walleyes and sauger abound. Anglers wander down to the pier come evening, and typically experience the best bite during the last 45 minutes of daylight, perhaps extending slightly after dark. Diehards, however, often linger longer on the midnight patrol. Jigs tipped with minnows or plastics, or three-way rigs baited with live minnows, are staple presentations for river rats fishing from bridges, docks or along shore.
Public boat access docks at nearly any lake or reservoir also offer fishing opportunities to shorebound anglers, but you must take into consideration that boat traffic moving in or out of the access has the right of way. Most of the time, boat traffic is a detriment to walleye fishing, but sometimes, it might just trigger a bite. This is particularly true at ferry docks along the Great Lakes, where the rushing currents formed by the ferry often trigger a short but fierce bite from walleyes or smallmouth bass. At night, however, such areas typically have little or no boat traffic, and offer a place to reach farther out into the lake, providing it’s open to the public. No trespassing!
Dock systems within marinas offer similar fishing platforms, providing they’re open to the public, not just to those with paid dockage space. Marinas may draw walleyes in spring as the fish seek warmer water than found in the main lake or in a strongly flowing river, where soft-bottomed harbors attract baitfish. The rest of the year, however, walleyes tend to be more mainlake-oriented, and marinas are more likely to attract panfish and bass.