Plenty of alternatives to fishing for walleye

Since the season is closed for everybody’s favourite fish for a few more weeks, other less popular species get a little more pressure than they might throughout the rest of the open-water season.
Until the third Saturday in May when we can all start chasing walleyes again, lake trout, pike, bass, and crappies are getting all the attention. I’ve been fishing in the boat quite a bit over the past week and, despite some mediocre weather, have had some pretty good fishing.
The next couple of weeks are prime time to fish for lake trout. Although it can be good immediately after the ice goes out, I’ve found fishing usually is better after the water has had a couple of weeks to warm up a little bit.
When water temperatures are in the mid- to high-40s F, which they will be over the next two weeks on most trout waters, that is when the fish get super shallow where they can be caught really well with artificial lures.
An overlooked spot are the shallow back bays on waters that hold trout. Think bays where you would look for pike, and cast or troll shallow-running, suspending jerkbaits like Husky Jerks or X-Raps.
Trout are eating perch in these bays so try perch-coloured lures.
This past Monday, I was out fishing with guiding buddy Duncan McEwen and we probably caught more pike than I’ve ever caught in one day before. We hit the water with intentions to catch bass, and we caught some, but it soon became apparent that the pike were snapping.
Fishing shallow shorelines and points leading out of the shallow bays where pike have spawned over the past couple of weeks, we made contact with a bunch of fish, including several double-headers over the course of the day.
Suspending jerkbaits were a hot pike bait, as well–the reason being that most fish are focused on eating baitfish right now so they are looking up in the water column.
All the crayfish and invertebrates that are plentiful during the warmer water period are not as much of a forage factor right now.
Another hot pike bait right now is the Northland Live Forage Casting Spoon–a daredevil-style spoon with a super realistic finish.
Bass fishing is excellent right now, but it is sort of a feast-or-famine type of deal out there. Bass still are schooled up on specific pieces of structure (could be a hump, a shallow reef, or a point) but they are not spread out randomly along shorelines yet.
So stick to fishing high percentage spots. Tubes can be the ticket over the next few weeks, especially as we get some warmer days that will draw fish into shallower water.
Cast smoke, white, or brown tubes around isolated boulders or logs—and watch for schools of bass to follow your hooked fish.
Crappies, meanwhile, still are in relatively deep water, but that’ll change soon when water temperatures get into the mid-50s F. When they move up shallow, they are easy to catch and they can be found in predictable locations.
Look for shallow boulders mixed with some sand and pencil reeds.
Trees in the water—and even beaver lodges—can hold schools of crappies. The best way to catch them is to use a small marabou jig like a Northland Bug-A-Boo about two feet below a bobber and pitch it around these types of areas.
When the crappies get up shallow, you’ll know it because you’ll catch fish.
Just because you can’t fish for walleyes, there still are plenty of top-notch fishing options out there to keep you busy over the next few weeks.
Warmer weather is on its way and, as anglers, we have a lot to look forward to.