Barbs and Backlashes

Back to some fishing by whitetips
May 17, 2010, 11:19 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I do not know that I ever get enough of spring turkey hunting, but I have been easing away from the turkeys and mushrooms and back into full-throttle fishing mode here in the past week or two.  Let me share some thoughts about that . . . .

I do not own a boat; someday maybe, but for now I spend a lot of time in chest waders.  Yes, I take every opportunity I get to fish in a boat, and I spend some time every year paddling my old float tube around, but most of the time I am “boat-less”.  I say that because folks often assume that they need all the latest and greatest, and most equipment in order to catch fish.  Baloney.  Some of the very best anglers I know in Nebraska do not own boats!

Now if you want to catch some Nebraska walleyes, you have to pick the right times if you are going to be successful without a boat.  Many anglers assume that the walleye spawn in early April is the best chance they have to catch walleyes.  I will defend their right to fish during the spawn; there is no biological reason for not allowing fishing during the walleye spawn, but after doing a little fishing for pre-spawn walleyes, I find something else to pursue until the walleye spawn is finished.  Why do I do that?  Because I know that those walleyes really are not interested in feeding during the spawn period; they have other things on their minds.  There are so many adult walleyes that concentrate on the spawning habitats in our waters that if those fish really were feeding you would catch a walleye every cast.  Sure, some of those fish will bite, and with the concentration of fish you only have to get a small percentage to bite to make it worthwhile.  But, I would rather wait until the spawn is completed and those fish really start feeding.

That time is now.

Once they finish spawning, walleyes disperse throughout our reservoirs; they literally scatter.  At this time the abundance of natural prey is at its annual minimum until things begin to warm up a little more.  That is why this is one of the best times of year to fish for walleyes!  You have active, hungry fish searching for a limited amount of prey and that means they are more likely to bite!

Walleyes will scatter throughout our reservoirs and feed on a variety of prey after they finish spawning.  You may find some walleyes on mid-depth flats feeding on aquatic insect larvae or the small fish that feed on those insects, while others will be cruising shallow water chasing shiners and still others may be back in some bay eating small bullheads and panfish.  This post-spawn period is characterized by mobile walleyes utilizing a variety of habitats and feeding on a variety of prey.  Early in the post-spawn period, the best tactics can be to cover water, try a variety of presentations and maybe scratch a fish or two here and another fish or two over there.  As the water begins to warm and we ease into summer, the walleyes will tend to consolidate and zero-in on more specific prey items and the “fishing patterns” will become more consistent and predictable.  But for now they can be scattered in a lot of different areas doing a lot of different things.

If you are a boat angler you are probably already thinking ahead of me–with the fish behavior I just described you can conclude that covering a lot of water would be a good strategy.  Drifting or trolling live bait rigs or trolling crankbaits are techniques that will cover a lot of water and locate some walleyes that are willing to bite.  Depending on the body of water and available habitat, anchoring and still-fishing or slip-bobbering may also catch some fish.

If you do not have a boat, do not despair, there is something else that very much works in the favor of us boat-less anglers this time of year (you boat anglers can listen in here too).  Water temperatures will still be relatively cool for a few weeks, and in that cool water there are a variety of prey that are more likely to be found in the shallows.  Even now water that is just a few degrees warmer will be home to more aquatic life.  I have said that walleyes will scatter throughout our waters at this time of year at a variety of depths and in a variety of habitats, but there will be more fish in water shallower than most walleye anglers expect.  As a general rule, the walleyes will scatter everywhere during the post-spawn, but in our reservoirs a greater percentage of them end up moving towards the shallows and towards the upper, warmer, shallower portions of our reservoirs.  If you do not have a boat the walleyes will still come plenty close to shore this time of year, and they are most likely to prowl close to shore while they are looking for prey!  You can pick some high percentage spots, points or areas that might funnel or concentrate fish as they cruise around and still-fish or slip-bobber your favorite live-baits in those areas.  Or, even without a boat you can slip on the chest waders and cover some water tossing jigs, crankbaits, or swim-baits to find some active fish.

Never forget the biology and nature of walleyes.  Walleyes are made for feeding in low-light conditions; they have an advantage over their prey in those conditions and they know it.  Early and late in the day or after dark are prime times to find actively feeding walleyes close to shore.  But “low-light” conditions can occur at other times:  cloudy, rainy days or anytime the wind blows it can reduce light penetration and make the conditions more favorable for walleye feeding activity.

Try to imitate the natural prey with your presentations, but this time of year the walleyes probably will not be very selective.  If you get something that looks good to eat in front of a prowling walleye it will probably bite.

A couple of males caught just as the spawn was starting.

And then this was my next trip; weeks later, after the spawn was finished. See, the spawn ain't the only time they can be caught. In fact it ain't even the best time.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

me along with many fellow anglers agree there should be a 1 fish over 18 inch size limit on lewis and clark on walleye south dakota would agree i hope. every year more and fish are being taken . more pressure and more and better ways to find and catch fish please consider looking in to this. help us protect a great fishery before it is to late.thank you jim dooley.

Comment by jim dooley

That stretch of the Missouri River upstream from Gavins Point Dam continues to be an excellent walleye and sauger fishery. In fact there may be fish swimming in that stretch right now that would exceed both the Nebraska and South Dakota hook & line state records. We try to standardize our regulations where possible, but it is not easy getting agreement on border waters.

Daryl B.

Comment by whitetips

Mr. B
I don’t agree with Mr. Dooley. Gavins reminds me of Davis Creek and currently, Lake Maloney. New “inventories” are added “every day” to help support the catch & eat crowd, unlike most impoundments (like Yankee Hill) that require annual stocking to continue the “food” walleye’s.

Fishing for the MAJORITY is about tablefare. If we are going to continue and hopefully INCREASE permit sales, we MUST provide that opportunity at least where “re-stocking” is “natural”!

Of course, that is just MY opinion. And I HAVE been called “old” and “feeble-minded”!

Harold F.
(I AM a promoter of “Selective Harvest” but not naive enough to ignore those that aren’t! Unfortunately, I believe I am “out numbered” and if that means increased permit sales, so be it!)

Comment by Harold F


What you have said is very much the case; Lewis & Clark is the last reservoir, farthest downstream, on the Missouri River and its fish community certainly is influenced by fish that are continually moving downstream. It continues to produce a quality fishery in spite of the fishing pressure and harvest that it receives.

However, I would be in favor of having the same walleye regulations there that apply to all other waters in the state just for the sake of standardization.

Daryl B.

Comment by whitetips

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: