Outdoors column: The midwinter walleye shuffle has begun

It was bound to happen, with the onset of early ice and plenty of snow the walleye action has definitely slowed down a bit. No need to get overly discouraged though because there are still plenty of walleyes to be caught, it’s just that you might have to adjust your tactics to match up with their less aggressive attitude.

The author slowed way down to nail this nice midwinter walleye.
The author slowed way down to nail this nice midwinter walleye. Submitted photo

Instead of running and gunning and looking for the biters you may have to slow down and take your time and really work over a likely spot. Offshore humps and bars are a good place to start looking and would include the tops, sides and the base of deeper structure. If you’re trying to catch daytime fish the sides and deepest edge of a bar might be the best place to find the biters. The top is more likely to give it up just before and after dark, but you never know for sure and the top should always be checked out no matter what time of day it is.

Jigging spoons are still a top technique for hooking up with “slowdown” walleyes, but the lighter spoons can be more productive like Northland Macho Minnow which has a slower drop and flutter than heavier spoons. Tip it with a minnow head or smaller fathead and drop it close to the bottom, then lift up and drop it with short strokes and then let it sit for a bit before starting again.

If fish are coming in for a look and not taking it your timing might be off and may have to wait till dark before they turn on enough to bite. You may also have to go to a set rig with a minnow and bobber and let it sit perfectly still. Even though it’s sitting still the minnow should be kicking and swimming especially when it’s getting stared down by predator and might be all the action you need. That also means making minnow changes every so often even if you’re not getting hit quite yet. When a fish does pull a bobber under you might want to wait until it stops running and the starts moving off again. If you don’t wait it out you’ll probably miss the fish and that’s the last thing you want to do when there are fewer biters to go around.

Even though it’s slowed down the walleye action can still be pretty hot. Besides, what else are you going to do? See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.