by Ron Anlauf
It’s been a goofy year to say the least. Good ice has been to slow to develop and has been downright treacherous on some of the bigger lakes like Mille Lacs, but there is plenty of safe ice to get out on.
Better yet; the fact that we haven’t had the thick layers of ice and suffocating snow cover means more oxygen available and more fish that are active enough to be caught. It’s not the timing of late season that slows walleye fishing down but rather the conditions, and the conditions are still good. What it means is there is still plenty of hot walleye action to be had and some of the best is yet to come.
With shallow patterns starting to slow up it’s time to look a little deeper and might mean a move down a shoreline break, to an offshore hump or reef, or maybe to a mid-lake mud flat (if you’re on Mille Lacs) which in reality qualifies as a hump. The thing about it all is deeper, especially if you’re after daytime action.
There could still be a shallower evening and night bite, but even that action tends to move deeper as the season progresses.
An example includes fish coming from the sides and deep edge of a mid-lake hump but start to move up on top as the sun starts to set.
It’s still deep and it doesn’t always happen that way, but it does often enough and is something to be aware of when you’re looking for a place to set up.
Effective presentations still include plenty of jigging spoons like Northland Tackle’s Buckshot or Macho Minnow tipped with a minnow head, tail, or even a couple of Eurolarvae or waxies.
Sharp ice anglers know that a little change like tipping with bugs instead of minnows can mean more fish at the end of the day.
The time to try it is when you’re seeing fish but not that many are biting, or after a high pressure system moves through and the outside temps really cool down.
A tough bite calls for more finesse and is when a spoon like the Macho Minnow can make a difference. It has a nice slow fall and flutter action and may be more appealing to walleyes that aren’t all that charged up.
Set rigs are also a great option and are perfect for using alongside the spoon. A smaller shiner or fathead hooked lightly under the dorsal fin with a colored jighead like a #8 Forage Minnow is a great way to go.
The jig adds some weight and keeps a minnow from swimming up and out of the “zone” and right in the face of hungry eyes. A float that’s set to barely keep it all from sinking is another good idea and will help minimize the resistance a fish feels and give you a better chance for hooking up.
See you on the ice.
Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.