Postspawn Walleye Dispersal

Postspawn Walleye Dispersal

Looking for a better deal? Who isn't? Even walleyes, who desert their current locations at the drop of a fishing hat when better opportunities arise, are notorious better-dealers. And during postspawn walleye dispersal, that's exactly what happens. When you show up at your spot and suddenly your fish are gone, don't be surprised. They found a better deal elsewhere.

When walleyes finish spawning, there's no hanging around to guard nests and eggs and fry as bass do. Walleyes are out the door, leaving future generations to their fate. It's time to start thinking about food. So, once water temperatures rise above 50 degrees F, indicating the end of the walleye spawning cycle, and you can't find walleyes hovering somewhere in and around their rocky spawning grounds near inlets, shorelines or shallow reefs, you know why. They vamoosed.

If, however, it so happens that perch, shiners, minnows, larval insects, or some other forms of edible creatures happen to be in the neighborhood, well, walleyes might just hang around for a while. So it's always a good idea to look for a baitfish spawning spot somewhere adjacent to a walleye spawning area, just in case. Because walleyes spawn earlier than baitfish, they just might have eased on over, awaiting the arrival of their anticipated prey, or may already be feasting on them. So check nearby shallow weed clumps for walleyes feeding on prespawn perch; sand flats for 'eyes chasing prespawn shiners or minnows; mud basins for fish seeking emerging insects; or some sort of cover, bottom composition, current or other feature that might attract forage. Even a shallow warm bay with minnows, sunfish, or bullheads could be a temporary pit stop for hungry 'eyes.

But at some point, the party's over. There's neither enough room nor sufficient forage in and around the spawning sites for such a large concentration of walleyes to remain for long. So they begin easing on down the lake to the next better deal. Since walleyes have been doing this since they were fry, they instinctively know the next stop, based on local habitat and forage availability.


Rates of dispersal from spawning areas depend on local factors. The shallower and more sloping the spawning area, the quicker the water tends to warm and the faster the fish tend to disperse; conversely, the steeper and deeper and colder the adjacent lake areas, the slower fish are to leave. Cover can help retain fish in an area for a while, be it fallen trees, flooded timber, broken reeds, emerging weeds, or some other form of security. But something nearby must be worth eating, and preferably plenty of it, to make hanging around worth the effort. Otherwise, walleyes want a better deal.


If they're gone, look to adjacent deeper structures, spreading in all directions from the spawning site. Drop-offs, flats, points, shallow humps and reefs, developing weedbeds, open basins, downriver flooded shorelines or backwaters are potential candidates for dispersing walleyes, depending upon the type of water--lake, river, or reservoir. Just hope that walleyes haven't moved too far too fast, so you can recontact them without too much effort, applying logical tactics in fairly predictable areas.

But the longer since spawning concluded, the farther fish may have moved and the more opportunities they may have encountered. And with walleyes still somewhat scattered compared to more organized schooling behavior typical in summer, postspawn dispersal can be challenging. It seems at times that a few fish are almost everywhere, and at other times, almost nowhere, but seldom are big groups of fish anywhere.

In the end, you hardly can blame walleyes for pulling up stakes and pitching their tents elsewhere once the local pantry's empty and a new diner opens up somewhere down the lake. So they get up and go with no regrets, without so much as a goodbye note, leaving you scratching your head and your fishing patterns in the lurch.

Rather than digging a foundation upon their arrival at the new destination, however, they stick with the mobile approach, much like a pride of lions following gazelles across the African veldt. It's great to get in on the goodies when the gettin's good. But hey, if the water hole dries up or the herd leaves for greener pastures, a lion won't stick around his favorite shade tree just because it's still shady. He still has to eat, drink, and take care o' business, and with walleyes, that's a moving experience, particularly during postspawn dispersal. No lyin'.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

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

Recommended Articles

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.

Softbaits for Smallmouths

Softbaits for Smallmouths

Doug Stange uses softbaits from Berkley to entice finicky smallmouth bass.

Room Full of New Gear from L.L. Bean

Room Full of New Gear from L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean's Jeff Miller shares a room-full of new gear for 2020 with Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

X-Factor Smallmouths

X-Factor Smallmouths

The In-Fisherman staff keeps it on the cutting edge, as they use the X-Factor plus topwater lures for smallmouths.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and other Catfish

Catfish Pole Rigs

Richard Peterson with In-Fisherman - April 28, 2016

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and...

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you can Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a powerplant that best fits your personal needs and preferences. Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...


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

More Walleye

A look at several different lure designs and how they attract ice walleyes. Walleye

Where Metal Meets the Water for Ice Walleyes

Douge Stange - January 15, 2020

A look at several different lure designs and how they attract ice walleyes.

Here's some of the best locations for your shot at a giant walleye. Walleye

Best Locations for Giant Walleyes

Steve Ryan - March 19, 2019

Here's some of the best locations for your shot at a giant walleye.

We asked guides, pros, editors, and other major players what walleye jig they could least live without. Walleye

Top-Rated Walleye Jigs for Select Situations

Matt Straw - October 14, 2019

We asked guides, pros, editors, and other major players what walleye jig they could least live...

Walleye

Thumping Bottom for Walleyes

Doug Stange - March 10, 2020

See More Walleye

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.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now