Shore Walleyes Wader Invader

In keeping with our foot patrol theme for spring shore walleyes, waders offer an easy and inexpensive alternative for fishing shallow areas near shore. Pop 'em in the trunk or back of the SUV, toss in a long spinning rod and a small component tackle box of lures, plus some warm clothes and a flashlight, and you're ready to go at a moment's notice.

Fishing in waders is a meet-and-greet scenario: you wade out to meet the fish on their way into the shallows from adjacent holding areas. The key is to pick out shoreline sections where the fish are drawn to you by distinctive shoreline features like rocks or contours, or by current flow, typically at creek or river mouths or on the downwind side of a narrows. Your mobility is limited, but the walleyes are free to roam. So, play percentages and be in position to intercept them.

Spring and fall are perhaps the best times to fish for walleyes with waders, since the fish tend to come quite shallow at night. In spring, it's a spawning thing; fish cluster in and around rocky shorelines, creek mouths, and riprap when the water temperature rises above 40F. In fall, it's a food thing, as fish move shallow to ambush a multitude of forage items ranging from frogs and salamanders entering the lake from swamps, to minnows and even bullheads roaming the shallows, to shallow fall spawners like ciscoes offering easy meals along mainlake sand-rock shorelines adjoining deep water. In most cases, wading is a night activity, since that's when the walleyes are most likely to come to you.

Tops on the list are likely neutral-buoyancy minnow imitators like Husky Jerks, retrieved slowly through the shallows, using the occasional pump-and-pause to make the lure first surge and then hang there in a following walleye's face. Next up is a jig of some sort, typically 1/4- to 3/8-ounce, dressed with a 4-inch shad body or twistertail. Jigs let you retrieve your lure nearer the bottom, just in case the water's more than 3 or 4 feet deep. Walleyes will, however, hit free-running lures at night, so you don't necessarily have to bang bottom to trigger strikes. You can try other options like rattlebaits, or even lighted slipbobbers dangling leeches a few feet below the surface. But most of the time, all you need is a couple of lures, the patience of Job, and the confidence to stand thigh-deep in cool water, waiting for that next bite.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

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


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...


Deep Cranking Confessions from the Pro's

John Neporadny Jr - December 18, 2017

Here's some important crankbait lessons from the big leagues.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The Scoop on Garmin's New Force Trolling Motors

Why did Garmin's new Force trolling motor win a Best of Show category award at the 2019 ICAST Show in Orlando? OSG's Lynn Burkhead gets all of the scoop on the amazing features that come with Garmin's first entry into the trolling motor market.

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

Spider Rig Crappies

Doug Stange employs one of the most effective crappie systems ever.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

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...

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...

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...

See More Stories

More Walleye


Crankbaits: The Fastest Lures for Walleyes

David Harrison

It's time to turn on the jets and hit the water.


Walleye Fly Ins

Gord Pyzer - November 17, 2017

I'll never forget my first fly-in fishing trip to a remote outpost camp in northern Ontario.


Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.

See More Walleye

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


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