Ice Fishing Opportunities In Reservoirs

Ice Fishing Opportunities In Reservoirs

During winter, a balance of food, depth, and water temperature may trigger walleye movements towards spawning locations long before the Spawn Period. When conditions are favorable in reservoirs, ice fishing walleyes may congregate near spawning areas under the ice, which often increases competition for food and creates aggressive feeding behavior.

Structures near deep water are key winter locations. Investigate steep breaks along major points and humps near the mouth of creeks and bays that extend toward the main river channel. Hard-bottom locations--shale, rock, or gravel--also attract walleyes. Secondary points and hard-bottom areas in creek arms near deep water also are good. Upstream stretches in larger reservoirs may host good fishing where numbers of walleyes have migrated in preparation for spawning.

In shallower flatland reservoirs, the lower end may be the only water deep enough for winter survival. Feeder creeks also may be deep enough to sustain a population of walleyes. Rock shorelines and riprap areas along the face of dams can be key fishing locations if the ice is safe.

Search different locations and depths, keying on spots where you see schools of baitfish on sonar. Using a sonar allows you to spot baitfish like smelt, shad, or shiners, and walleyes moving through the area, possibly suspended above bottom. In many lakes and reservoirs, walleyes often suspend several feet from the bottom, looking for food. Raise your lure up to the depth where you mark fish. Suspended walleyes seldom hesitate to strike your lure--but they're also fish you would likely miss without sonar.


//www.in-fisherman.com/files/2012/08/wi1501_IceReservoirsA.jpg
During winter, walleyes and baitfish in reservoirs congregate near the mouths of major creek arms, staging near sharp drops. When conditions are favorable, the walleyes migrate toward key spawning locations. Key on major points, sharp drops, rock, gravel, riprap and other hard-bottom locations.

The flash and vibration qualities of flash lures work for calling in walleyes along steep breaks where they may be moving through at different depths. Flash lures also attract the attention of walleyes moving through at suspended levels.


There's often a sweet spot along structures like points that attracts more fish. Walleyes generally investigate spot-on-a-spot locations because it's a place they've become accustomed to finding food. Swimming lures, designed to imitate and duplicate the swimming actions of baitfish, are ideal baits for catching walleyes hunting in specific spots for baitfish. Swimming lures, like the Nils Master Jigging Shad, Rapala Jigging Rap, or Salmo Chubby Darter, have a profile similar to the baitfish common in reservoirs, and their larger profiles make it easier for fish to see in low-light conditions.


Using a jig tipped with minnows is another good tactic when the fish seem neutral or negative toward hitting spoons and swimming lures. Suspending minnows below floats also produces. When several anglers fish together, using tip-ups to cover many different depths along structure is another popular reservoir tactic.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley. Bass

Sensational New Softbaits for Bass

Steve Quinn - April 22, 2019

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley.

To help you get a handle on it all, we offer the following rundown of top choices on the buzzbait scene. Bass

Buzzbaits for Bass

Dan Johnson - February 02, 2015

To help you get a handle on it all, we offer the following rundown of top choices on the...

Which of the ten is the best? You decide. Bass

10 Best Bass Fishing States In America

Matt Straw - November 01, 2017

Which of the ten is the best? You decide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

Simms

Simms' Challenger Raingear

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products details the warm and dry features found in the new Challenger raingear being brought to market by the Bozeman, Mont. company.

Spawntime World Class Crappies

Spawntime World Class Crappies

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

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. 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...

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options. Other Fish

Best Carp Baits Today

Dan Johnson - June 29, 2018

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

See More Stories

More Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

Portable Shelters in Ice Country

Doug Stange - January 29, 2020

Catching whitefish, what more could the winter angler ask for? Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Giant Whitefish

Gord Pyzer - January 01, 2016

Catching whitefish, what more could the winter angler ask for?

Tungsten and lead jigs often complement each other. Ice Fishing

Ying and Yang: Tungsten and Lead Jigs

Doug Stange - February 06, 2020

Tungsten and lead jigs often complement each other.

See More Ice Fishing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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