Outdoors: Go on an adventure and search for walleye in shallow water

Are you sick and tired of deer season? Ready to hit hard water and shoot fish on the ice?

Me too, however, after a short cold snap at the end of the regular deer season, the temperatures have become somewhat mild thanks to La Niña. I was able to get out on the ice once so far, nice hard perfect 2 3/4 inch black ice two weeks ago in the north, but I wouldn’t trust it at this point.

Fear not, there is a lot of angling to do if you are a little adventurous. The pre-ice and after dark walleye bite in shallow water on some of our local lakes can be very hot. It also doesn’t have to happen after dark, but walleyes, being extremely twilight in nature, the best time to capitalize is right at sunset until the wee hours of the morning.

The Shallow Flats adjacent to the Deep Water Rifts are where you want to start looking. Walleye will begin to filter out of deeper water as the sun begins to set. Wading through icy waters hundreds of yards from shore in the middle of the night can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s a scramble like no other. Especially when that first big eye crushes your offer.

The material: I prefer a slower, longer rod with a sensitive tip for this application; more than the typical fishing rod that a fisherman would associate with crankbaits. On the one hand, a longer rod will help achieve maximum casting distance, especially when you’re in waist-deep water, and two you’re really looking to feel the grip. Really, any quality spinning reel that will stand cold temperatures will work. I like to load it with a super small diameter line like Powerpro, say a 15 pound test, which I think is a 4 pound test equivalent in mono diameter. It glides really well through the guides and provides both maximum casting distance and the best feel for optimal transfer of hit detection. At the terminal end of this main line, I will have about a 3 foot section of Seaguar Blue Label fluorocarbon. The line-to-leader connection can be done with a small barrel swivel, but I actually prefer an Albright node for a fluorocarbon superline connection.

Lures: Really, any hanging stickbait will work – X-Raps, Husky Jerks, Rattlin ‘Rogues, Thundersticks, etc. Really, any stickbait in the 3-5 inch range will produce. The average presentation depth is very shallow, in the range of 1 to 3 feet, so there is no need for dive bait. We mainly focus on white or prismatic colorings. A bait with a rattle also seems to make a difference. The really crucial part of this equation is that the bait hangs perfectly. Test them in front of you, choose the one that hangs the best and the most regularly. This is the bait that will get the most hits because 99% of the hits are paused. Small pieces of lead tape can also really help fine-tune the balance and achieve the perfect bait suspension; it usually doesn’t take a lot of time, and depending on where you place it on the bait, it can help it hang perfectly and horizontally.

The presentation: This is a cold water presentation, at the end of the season, and therefore everything will be super slow. If you think you’re going slow enough, take it slower. Crank the reel handle and give it a good break of 4 or 5 seconds. A few more cranks, another long pause. Repeat this process along the length of the throw to the tip of the rod. It is not uncommon for a fish to strike it at only a rod’s length. Use every bit of every distribution. The holds are almost always quite aggressive and very noticeable.

If you’re up for the cold and you’re done with deer season, nocturnal walleyes may be the perfect solution. I would also suggest having a crazy buddy to go with you. This type of extremely cold water wading through the gloomy scenario can be a recipe for disaster if alone. Be smart and good luck!


Due to the new vaccine / mask mandate in the state, the Big Buck Fuel-n-Food Contest banquet at Mayfield Grill that was scheduled for today will be postponed to a later date when COVID restrictions are lifted.

At the moment, they don’t know exactly when it will be, but a date no later than April will be chosen and announced.

Anyone who has won a category can collect their prize in person at Fuel-N-Food or contact Lou at 518-661-6917 and it can be mailed to you without a problem.

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