Cranking to Locate Walleyes

Cranking to Locate Walleyes

The month of March, heading into April, always gets the walleyeheads' blood boiling. Springtime walleyes are a welcome answer to the doldrums after a long winter. In western reservoirs and rivers, it's the time to pitch jigs up shallow, almost a flippin' technique. In many anglers' eyes, it is the most enjoyable way to catch walleyes all season long.

Western reservoirs and rivers contain certain structural pieces that all walleye fisherman look for in order to pitch jigs up shallow: rocky points, shallow shelves with deep-water access, and the list goes on. For anglers making their first trip to a western reservoir -- Lake Oahe in South Dakota -- the sheer number of spots can be mind-boggling. It's point after point after point as far as the eye can see. Where to start? And how?


As a general rule of thumb, pick points that lie up inside creek arms at this time of year. More specifically, select points in these creek arms that have both shallow water (2 to 6 feet) and quick access to deep water (10 to 20 feet). This usually eliminates about half the points, making your job easier.



Second, mudlines play a crucial role on these reservoirs in attracting active, feeding walleyes. Mudlines mean walleyes at this time of year, so note which way the wind is blowing and select points on the downwind shore, exposed to the waves. This strategy eliminates more points, yet still leaves a lot of water to cover.


The most consistent method for catching these shallow eyes is pitching a jig and a minnow. The problem with this technique is speed. Pitching jigs is a slow technique, which in turn means that you're not covering a lot of water. Trying to locate fish with slow tactics can be a long, drawn-out process.


To locate walleyes and cover water more effectively, get out the crankbaits. Cranks in March and April? Sound too early? It's not. Cranks are great locater-baits this time of year, trolling or casting, even in cold water. We're not talking about trolling here, however, but rather focusing on casting cranks up into mudlines.

I like a Shad Rap style crank for this technique. Shad Raps, Wally Divers, CC shads are all good choices. You'll typically be casting in 1 to 5 feet of water, so shallow runners are in order.

Retrieve patterns can vary at this time of year, but the norm is a crank-and-stop retrieve. Cast the crank up shallow, give a good ten turns on the reel, then pause for two seconds, and repeat throughout the shallows. Once your bait reaches deep water, reel it in and cast again.

Casting cranks does two major things for you. First, it lets you cover lots of water quickly. In return, it eliminates unproductive spots. Second, it locates and catches the most aggressive fish.

Using this technique, you can create a "milk run", allowing you to go back to mudlines and points where you caught fish, and then fish back through the areas with slower techniques, such as pitching jigs. Pitching covers the water more thoroughly, and you will pick off fish that were not aggressive enough to hit the cranks.

This dual approach to springtime walleyes in western reservoirs and rivers can completely change how you fish at this time of year. Casting cranks speeds up the process of locating active fish. This in turn increases your catch-rate on jigs. It makes you a more efficient and productive angler. Isn't that our goal? To catch more fish, more quickly?

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Bass

Sensational New Softbaits for Bass

Steve Quinn - April 22, 2019

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley.

Panfish

Dock Shooting Crappies

Matt Straw - July 03, 2018

Catch those weary crappie with this technique!

Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Awesome Spoon Bluegill System

Check out this deadly spoon system for big bluegills introduced by one of In-Fisherman's readers.

Spawntime World Class Crappies

Doug Stange and Brandon Fulgham illustrate spawntime crappie patterns on one of North America's most famous fisheries.

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

See More Stories

More Walleye

Walleye

Slow-Death Presentation for Walleye

David Harrison - January 03, 2018

The slow-death system often works so well, there's almost no wrong way to do it.

Walleye

The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures.

Walleye

Patterns That Find Late Summer Walleye

Cory Schmidt

You have to admire the optimism of statements like, "There's no such thing as a bad time to go

See More Walleye

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×