Wading With The In Crowd: Inlet Walleyes

Wading With The In Crowd: Inlet Walleyes

In spring, walleyes are instinctively drawn to flowing water. Catching them in inlets--small streams or creeks that flow into a main body of water--can be easy pickings if you find the right place to wade when walleyes are cruising upstream.

Classic spots include areas with scattered rock or boulders, bridge pilings, current breaks, small points, drop-offs, or holes. Rock-rubble or riprap areas swept by current; mussel beds mixed with gravel; or small tributary creeks with gravel washout bottoms also provide additional locations that attract and hold walleyes.

During the day, walleyes typically stage along current breaks, like a deeper hole or eddy below a riffle. Bridges provide shade for walleyes and baitfish, creating a classic overlap of predator and prey. Drop-offs near the mouth of an inlet can be good spots to intercept walleyes staging or moving into the inlet.

Classic baits include crankbaits and jigs rigged with soft plastics. The large, wobbling profile of a shallow-diving crankbait provides a tempting target, especially at night. Long, thin minnow-imitators tend to work best, particularly neutrally buoyant models like Rapala Husky Jerks or Suspending Smithwick Super Rogues. At rest, the lure hangs level, neither rising nor sinking, the perfect trigger for walleyes waiting to ambush baitfish drifting downstream.

Properly balanced jig-and-plastic combos are top producers. Large profile soft-plastic shadbaits that feature a heavy boottail, or curlytail grubs like Berkley's 3-inch Power Grub, are popular boot-fishing baits for walleyes. Use a slow to steady retrieve with an occasional lift and drop. Tipping with a minnow works with some jig-and-plastic-body combinations, while other baits, like plastic shadbaits, work more effectively without tipping with bait.

Whether walleyes are moving upstream or slipping back downstream, they generally face into the current, in position to ambush baitfish that pass in front of them. Casting your bait upstream at about a 45-degree angle allows you to cover lots of water and a variety of depths. Use a slow swimming retrieve with an occasional pause to trigger strikes, quartering the lure downstream. Casting parallel to the shoreline is also an option, especially after dark when walleyes move shallow to spawn and to use the shoreline to trap baitfish. Casting downstream, meanwhile, allows you to slowly retrieve a shallow-running crankbait against the current along the shoreline, imitating a baitfish trying to make its way upstream. It therefore pays to experiment with casting direction to see what works best.

A 7-foot medium-power, fast-action spinning rod equipped with a long-cast reel featuring an oversized spool launches baits a considerable distance. Monofilament like 6-pound Berkley XT is a good line for slowly swimming jig-and-plastic combos. Superline, like 10-pound Berkley FireLine, is thin, strong, and limp enough to cast long distances. Superline is an excellent option with neutrally buoyant crankbaits, making it easy to jerk and pause the bait, even at long distances.

When instinct sends inlet walleyes swimming, wisdom should send boot anglers wading near key inlet spots. Having success wading with the inlet crowd only requires casting the right bait in the right spot when walleyes move into casting range.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!

Pike & Muskie

Best Drive-To Pike Waters

Gord Pyzer

Some of Canada's best pike waters are within driving distance.


Sensational New Softbaits for Bass

Steve Quinn - April 22, 2019

Steve Quinn talks new softbaits for bass from Berkley.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Travel Destinations on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff targets all fish during each and every season, with many of our favorite winter option are on the ice.

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Doug Stange swims jigs with precision for frigid-water smallmouths.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


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...


Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...


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...

See More Stories

More Walleye


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.


Catch Trophy Walleye with Swimbaits

Dan Johnson - April 27, 2018

Paddletail or thumper-style swimbaits are a fundamental walleye lure category on par with


Crankbaits: The Fastest Lures for Walleyes

David Harrison

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

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.