Walleye are mostly found in North American waters and are predatory members of the perch species. Their eyes appear glassy, thus its name, and their bodies have distinctive marks for easy identification. Walleye can both be found in rivers and lakes and prefer deeper waters as they grow older because of their dislike of sunlight. Although they don’t put up strenuous fights when caught, their preference for dwelling at the bottom makes choosing the right bait all the more important.
Choosing the Right Bait for Catching Walleye
Whether you’re using real or fake bait, just remember to choose one that resembles a walleye prey the most. Walleye have excellent eyesight so don’t expect them to be fooled with poor bait choices.
Types of Live Bait for Catching Walleye
Lead Heads and Leeches – Fishing novices would do well by starting out with a lead head jig and leech combination. A lead head jig is more complex than using a plain hook. A leech is also the easiest bait because you can virtually prick it anywhere and still have it effectively serve its purpose. You can also use an artificial tail together with this baiting combination but it is truly unnecessary.
If you’re using a lead head jig and leech, it will achieve the greatest number of catches when you cast it past a riffle edge and proceed downstream. For shallower waters, make sure you keep your bait directly vertical. Deeper waters and stronger currents can make it hard to keep your bait vertical so you’ll have to use heavier bait in such instances.
Its better to have one other person with you when you’re fishing from a boat. The person controlling your boat should be able to work with the current as it goes downstream and you focus on fishing for walleye.
Spinner Rigs and Minnows – Live minnows are arguably the most popular baits used for fishing walleye. Spinner rigs are definitely harder to prepare and use than jigs and though you can purchase ready-made ones from local fishing shops, you’ll usually find something you’ve personally made more effective.
The best partner to a spinner-rigged minnow is a moderate to high-end fishing rod with above average speed of use. Let your bait stay approximately one foot away from the bottom. They don’t work well in rifles.
Types of Artificial Bait for Catching Walleye
Lizards – Walleye are fooled by plastic lizards because they resemble the amphibians and mudpuppies they prey on. Of course, you’ll have to jiggle them several times to cause the kind of vibration that walleye understand. The ideal size for lizards is four inches but you can go as far as seven inches if you feel that’s what you need. As for the jig heads, use anything between one half to 5/8 ounces.
Colors matter as well. While experts advise fishing enthusiasts to purchase lizards in the shades of orange, green, and red, some prefer their artificial baits to resemble the traditional colors of purple and blue of basses.
Worms – Plastic and rubber worms have long been used as bait for bass but they don’t enjoy the same level of popularity for those dedicated to catching walleye.
To use this type of bait effectively, start by dragging it on the top of reefs just so walleye in the vicinity have a better chance of seeing it. In shallow waters, just cast it out and then wait for it to drift to the bottom on its own. When it does, jerk your rod up once in a while to set out vibrations.
The good news for walleye fishing enthusiasts is that there’s a company currently working on plastic worms specifically designed for baiting walleye. Not only do they greatly resemble the appearance and, even to some extent, the taste of live bait, they are also safe to use for the environment!
Shad – Shad take the appearance of minnows and automatically work to serve its purpose once you’ve cast it upon a river or lake. When shopping for shad, make sure you choose the color that will best resemble live minnows depending on the time of the day you’re fishing.