Outdoors column: Hard times for first ice walleyes

Good ice came earlier this season than it has in recent memory and was welcome news for those chomping at the bit to get it all started. In the northern part of the state, anglers were even out before Thanksgiving on the shallower lakes and some of the walleye action has been red hot.

The author hit the spoon hard for the this dandy walleye.
The author hit the spoon hard for the this dandy walleye. Submitted photo

Productive early season techniques include plenty of jigging spoons and are really hard to beat when you’re looking for fish. A spoon tipped with a minnow head is quick down the hole and the flash and noise they make when you give them a snap can really turn fish on. A little later on and they might prefer a softer less aggressive presentation but not now, now is time to hit the spoon hard.

Watching your bait with a depth-finder can give you an idea rather quickly if there are any fish around because if you’re on the right spot they’ll at least come in for a look, even if they don’t hit right away. No fish or marks means just that and you had better move on.

When looking for fish; be sure to check out in deeper water. Typically, walleyes will stay deep until late in the day and then move up and in and that  is when they are most vulnerable. It could be a drop off along a point, a hump, or maybe just off a deep weed edge and is something to be aware of.

Drilling a lot of holes is another part of the process and this year mine will all be cut with the Ion, which is a super-fast electric auger. In fact almost all of my holes last year were cut with the Ion which proved to be as fast as advertised, light and completely dependable. You may not have to drill that many holes and will depend on how quickly you can find some fish but it’s best to be prepared.

Timing is everything when you’re trying to hook up with walleyes and having your lines in the water just before and just after dark is imperative. Staying late means being warm and comfortable because if you’re not you’ll be headed home before the good stuff happens. And that’s why I’m using a fully insulated shelter and believe me, insulation makes a huge difference. It eliminates condensation, is super quiet inside and is much, much easier to heat. See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.