Inside The WildSide - By Chip Leer

4 Ways 4 Eyes

Surefire Stategies For Post-Spawn Walleyes

Late spring walleye fishing can be ridiculously easy or incredibly frustrating, depending on the conditions and your approach. Here are four proven patterns to help you match the conditions and catch more fish on every trip.


Less Than 12 Feet Of Water

1. Drag A Jig

Northland Stand-Up Fire-Ball Jigs

Drifting or slow-trolling a leadhead on bottom is one of my favorite ways to cover large flats or emerging weedgrowth. Northland Fishing Tackle’s Stand-Up Fire-Ball is the jig for the job: the 45-degree angled eye lets you drag without fouling, and positions the bait in a natural, slightly elevated manner. I like tipping with a shiner, but a leech or half-crawler is also deadly. Experiment with distance from the boat, as well as dragging and snapping motions until the fish reveal their preference. The weight of the jig depends on wind and bait, but generally works best using an 1/8 to ¼ ounce.

2. Cast A Swimbait

LIVETARGET Perch & Goby Swimbaits and Northland IMPULSE Core Swimbaits

Soft and supple plastic swimbaits excel for casting large, shallow sand flats and rocky shoreline structure. The pre-rigged, LIVETARGET 4 inch Trout Parr Swimbait and a 4 1/2-inch IMPULSE Core Swimbait on a Current Cutter Jig are personal favorites. Make a long cast, let the jig land and retrieve it close to bottom. Try a smooth and steady retrieve constantly reeling or an erratic, hop-drop cadences to determine what the walleyes want.

12 Feet Or Deeper

3. Troll Crankbaits

LIVETARGET Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait

Structure trolling crankbaits is deadly when walleyes gather along the second breakline off shore on their way out to the main basin. Choose smaller lures with subtle rolling actions—save the big, wide wobblers for later in the season. LIVETARGET’s 2¾-inch, suspending Rainbow Smelt Jerkbait is hard to beat. Fish it with snap weights or leadcore line and experiment with speeds from 2.3 to 2.8 mph while trying to keep your crankbait near or slightly off the bottom.

4. Rig Live Bait

Northland Roach Rig With Leech

When finicky walleyes sulk on bottom after a spring cold front, nothing out fishes live bait on an old-fashioned slip sinker rig. A plain hook and crawler injected with a little bit of air is perfect, but leeches can be good, too. Minnows may swim around too much for tough-bite walleyes to chase.

Mark fish on sonar and hold the bait in front of their noses until they take a sniff. Depending on the mood of the fish and the size or type of bait your using, wait 5-15 seconds before you set the hook using a sweeping hookset. Make sure it’s fresh bait, though, because if you’ve ever opened the lid on a container of dead crawlers, you know nothing wants to eat them!

Don’t be afraid to change it up this spring. While you may have a history of catching late spring walleyes a certain way, the fish are constantly writing new chapters.

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Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, an outdoor sports marketing and communications company. For more information look to