Going after walleyes under the ice

Walleyes are, without a doubt, the most sought after game fish in the U.S. Midwest in the summer. But now’s a good time, too.
Walleyes are often considered to be schoolers but under the ice, they seem to disperse into loose associations. Pinpointing them is often difficult but catching one is like finding a piece of the puzzle.
Show me a lake with an hourglass figure and a few good walleyes, and I’ll show you fish.
The key is in the narrows of the lake. Perhaps it’s the current, or maybe the bottlenecking effect. Regardless, the narrows are a walleye attractor second to none.
Points with a good extension into deep water are a close second. Bays nearby also are worth trying.
With three distinct target areas to choose from, I like to pick a lake with a narrows, a major point extending out into the main body, and adjoining bays sandwiched in between. It doesn’t matter what the target species is, a combination of these structural elements is going to attract some fish during ice up.
Crappie minnows fished near the bottom provide some of the finest mid-winter perch fishing to be found anywhere. On good days, fish from 11-13 inches can be caught two at a time–as fast as the angler can get rebaited and back to the bottom.
The typical “perch rig”–two #6 snelled hooks attached to the line eight and 16 inches above a 1/2 oz. bell sinker–works well. Some anglers use tiny spinner blades and beads on their hooks to serve as additional attractors.
Hooking a crappie minnow either through the lips or behind the dorsal fin works equally as well.
Your lure selection also might have to change. Right now on many lakes, glow/blue Fire-Eye minnows are hot. If that colour isn’t productive, move on to other ones.
The style and shape of the Fire-Eye minnow allows it to flutter as it falls. This will simulate a wounded minnow, and turn those inactive fish into active ones.
Another type of lure that suspends the rate of fall is the Airplane jig and the Jigging Rapala, which have a swimming action and they dart as they fall. This will give the fish an impression minnows are darting and swimming towards them and escaping from them, and it will trigger a response from those finicky walleyes.
Another rule is to be conscience of the size of your bait. The old adage that the “larger the bait, the larger the fish” will hold true, but if the fish turn off, try a smaller size and you might be surprised.
Of course at this time of year, it is hard to troll to find active fish but in a sense you can apply the methods you use in the summertime. Drill holes from the shallowest portion of the structure you are fishing, then continue to do so at various depths as the structure drops off into deeper water.
Then instead of “trolling” along the structure, you can use tip-ups to cover from the deepest to the shallowest point. Tip-ups enable you to cover more water than you could with a minnow and float, and a flag can be seen from several hundred feet away.
If you have a number of fishing buddies with you, you can cover the structure at various depths and, in effect, troll the edge of the structure.

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