Getting started fishing walleye is easy. A simple fishing pole rigged with 6 or 8-pound test monofilament line and a handful of lures or live bait is all any angler needs to tangle with Minnesota's state fish.
But that doesn't mean walleye are easy to catch--like any fish, walleye can be elusive. If you've never fished walleye and want to give it a try, here are few tips to help get you started.
The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment that helps the fish to see and feed at night or in turbid water. The walleye's sensitivity to bright light plays a large role in its behavior.
The best time to fish walleye is at dawn and dusk, when they feed most actively. If you're fishing during the daylight, try to fish when weather conditions reduce brightness--a wave chop, also known as a walleye chop, clouds or turbidity cause walleye to feed more actively in daylight.
Most walleye anglers use basic tackle, often with live bait. With experience, you'll perfect your techniques and tackle selection and improve your fishing.
Jigs have a lead head on a hook that can be tipped with a nightcrawler, leech, or minnow. You can cast a jig from shore and retrieve it slowly, so it stays near the bottom, where walleye tend to feed. Jigs can also be fished from the side of a boat.
Crankbaits are minnow-shaped lures made out of wood or plastic. They can be cast and retrieved from shore or trolled behind a boat.
Lindy rigs are a slip sinker or split shot, a monofilament leader and a hook tipped with a minnow, leech, or nightcrawler. Lindy rigs can be cast from shore or a boat and allowed to sit near or on the bottom.
Bait shops are a great place to learn about local walleye hotspots. You can find maps, reports on fish populations and fish consumption guidelines for most Minnesota lakes online through the DNR's lakefinder.
Remember to buy a fishing license and read the fishing regulations book before you go. If you're lucky and the bite is hot, keep only what you need. Keeping less than your limit and releasing some fish--especially larger ones--perpetuates the quality of fishing for everyone.
Jason Abraham, DNR Staff Writer