Where are the walleye?

Now a couple of weeks into the 2016 open-water walleye season, conditions are changing and walleye are on the move towards where they’ll spend much of the summer.
Walleye are the most sought-after fish species across Sunset Country, evident by the fact thousands of anglers visit our region each year to take advantage of the best walleye fishing in the world that we have right outside our door.
Many local anglers target walleye, as well, because they are plentiful and they are the best-eating fish we have in our lakes.
June can bring challenging fishing conditions simply because these fish are on the move more than any other time of the year.
Walleye spawn shortly after the ice goes out in shallow bays and current areas. They hang around these areas for several weeks before slowly making their way back to main lake basins, where they’ll spend much of the summer.
At this point in the year, some fish already will be out on the popular humps and points that are really good in July and August, but there still will be plenty of fish to be found in the shallow bays, as well as any number of places in between.
The reason the fishing can be tougher is because the fish simply are spread out a lot more than they normally are.
Weather conditions make choosing a fishing location easier than anything else. My experience has shown me that on those nice, warm early summer days, fishing shallower areas that might have some weeds starting to pop up can be hotspots.
I like to look around small beaches and places with a sand bottom. The water is still cool so walleye prefer the slightly warmer, shallower water.
When we get a nasty June cold front, then it’s time to start fishing some deeper water. If the wind is blowing, the best bet is to hide out in a neck-down area with some current where you can be protected from the wind.
Most current areas on our lakes hold walleye year-round because there always is going to be food around.
Many of these places are popular spots that are not always as fun to fish. But if you want to catch some walleye, then they are a good place to go.
When it comes to choosing tackle, I generally start with a quarter-ounce jig tipped with a soft plastic minnow like a 3” Northland Impulse Smelt Minnow or a Jackall Clone Fry. Both of these baits are scented and realistic looking.
When fishing around some weeds, the plastic is better because you can rip it through the sparse cover without tearing off your bait.
If you try to rip a live minnow through weeds, you’re going to constantly tear it off.
When the fishing is tough, then sometimes you need to go to using the real thing. On guide trips, I always bring live minnows along because sometimes my guests are not as experienced, so minnows may help them put a few more fish in the boat.
The big thing about this time of year is keeping an open mind. If you are not catching fish, keep searching until you do and fish all depths of water.
You will find walleye surprisingly shallow at this time of year compared with the rest of the summer, so never stop looking until you find some fish.