Walleyes can be caught from shore in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs throughout the year. In lakes, top spots include the mouths of feeder creeks and outlets, including culvert areas that connect marshes or shallow lakes to the main lake. In Canadian Shield lakes, large eddies below barriers like waterfalls or rapids hold hordes of walleyes in spring. Most current areas have a few distinct spots that break the current and provide a resting place for walleyes and baitfish. The edge of current seams--where moving water meets calm water--is a good spot for walleyes to ambush a passing meal.
Narrows, which are bottlenecked waterways connecting two larger bodies of water, often have some current that attracts baitfish and walleyes. The best spots vary depending on the size of the narrows, both length and width, and the size of the two connected bodies of water. Where current is swift, downcurrent areas attract baitfish and walleyes. Deeper holes near or in the narrows might also hold walleyes, though active fish tend to hold in shallower water.
On windy days, look for walleyes along windswept shorelines. Long stretches of shoreline or points covered with rocks or pebbles can be good. Where 1 to 3 feet of water meet the shore is an ideal spot for walleyes to trap baitfish. Main-lake points are good locations on windy days, too.
Walleyes might also pass through current areas into back bays or marshy areas commonly considered good carp spots. When fish aren't in traditional current spots, back bays are worth a look. Start by investigating the mouths of bays or culverts that connect the slough to the main lake. Deeper water, like a creek channel or deeper hole within a bay, sometimes concentrates fish.
In rivers, walleyes often stage near dams until after they spawn. Structure along the main current creates current breaks and eddies, again providing a place to rest and ambush prey. Riprap along causeways, roads, and railroad crossings provide current breaks that often can be reached from shore. Tributary rivers and streams can be good, too. Tributary water likely is warmer, which attracts baitfish and walleyes.
Baitfish and young-of-the-year fish like crappies, perch, and bullheads use shoreline weeds or flooded timber to hide from predators. A weedless jig, like Lindy's Veg-E-Jig, is ideal for working livebait or soft plastic baits through weeds and wood. The key is to hop and weave your bait through the cover slowly enough to give walleyes time to react to and ambush your bait.
Shallow-running cranks, such as a Rapala Floating Minnow, or neutrally-buoyant minnowbaits, such as a Smithwick Suspending Super Rogue, are top crankbait choices in the shallows. At rest, neutrally buoyant baits hang level, neither rising nor sinking--a proven trigger for trailing walleyes.
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Jigs tipped with soft plastic, like a Berkley Power Grub, or soft-plastic shad bodies featuring a heavy boot tail like Mister Twister's Sassy Shad, also are top producers. Large-profile soft plastic shad bodies, like a Walleye Assassin 4-inch Turbo Shad, rigged on a jighead, are good baits at night. A grub rigged on an 1/8-ounce jig's a good combo for most shallow situations. Use a slow, steady retrieve with an occasional lift and drop to trigger strikes.
A Few Shoreline Walleye Locations:
- Narrows--thin, bottlenecked waterways connecting two larger bodies of water€¢funnel fish when there's enough current to attract baitfish and walleyes.
- In moderately fertile and fertile lakes check areas where running water enters the lake or where necked-down areas create current between lakes.
- Sandy beaches in shallow, fertile lakes, and around the edges of swimming beaches on any walleye lake.
- River eddies below dams, large and small.
- The confluence of tributary streams.
- Larger eddy areas where the river widens below prominent barriers like waterfalls or rapids, particularly in Canadian Shield lakes.
- In reservoirs, check the flats at the mouth of prominent creek arms where the creek arm connects to the main reservoir.
- Prominent points inside major creek arms.
- Riprap along the dam face or shorelines.
- In Canadian Shield lakes, flats or points at the mouth of shallow, sandy bays near deep water in the main lake attract fish.
- In fertile lakes, sandy points at the mouth of muck bays attract fish during the autumn frog migration.
Typical Shallow Walleye Lake--Limited Structural Features
Shallow walleye lakes are difficult to fish during the day because of their lack of structural elements to concentrate fish. Find a prominent point, hump, or weedbed, and chances are you can catch walleyes during the day using a standard approach--livebait rigs and jigs. But if the lake is basically a shallow dishpan with no distinct features, you're usually better off fishing at night in a spot that concentrates fish in a limited area along the shoreline.
In most cases, this will be a current area. It draws both walleyes and baitfish to a small spot where they can be reached effectively. Maybe not a classic example of walleye behavior, but on these lakes it's usually an overlooked pattern for walleyes, particularly big ones. The big fish hold somewhere outside these areas in deeper water during the day, moving into the current to feed at night.
Not all current areas offer the same potential. The best have classic hard bottoms. Pure sand will produce only if plenty of forage is moving through the area. As the season progresses and everything else freezes, almost any open flowing spot can become a hot spot. The key, once again, is presence of prey.
Areas A are shallow backwater areas connected to the main lake. Prey move in and out during the night and hungry walleyes ambush them.
Area B is where current flows from one lake to another. It's particularly good where a more fertile, food-rich eutrophic lake is connected to a meso lake. As the season progresses, predators and prey congregate on the current side.
Area C is an example of a lake outlet flowing over a dam and into a river. Fish the river if it's large enough to hold numbers of fish, or fish the area above the dam. These areas may be related to a pumping station or powerhouse, becoming dynamite later in the season when everything else freezes.
Area D is a feeder creek with flowing water. Although creek mouths entering huge flats produce at times, the best drop into or offer immediate access to deeper water.
Area A-1 is better than A-2 because of deeper water nearby. Weed remnants in current areas seem to hold forage.
Find a decent area where no one else is fishing and anything can happen.