Walleye Opener: Deep Water Concept

By John Andrew - May 1, 2011
The ice went out 3 days before opening day and as the alarm went off at 4:00AM that Saturday morning, I was going over in my mind the location of the weed bed we were going to fish, trying to decide where to position the boat in conjunction with a strong south wind. Anchoring was and still is an important method, when fishing weeds in the wind. Presque Isle Lake has very, very clear water and wind is my friend when fishing any clear water environment, at this time of year in particular. Remember, we are discussing lakes, not a river environment.

My guests and I headed across the chain of lakes, moving thru the large waves when I noticed they were becoming too big for us, the date was 1983 and I was guiding out of a smaller boat, as I turned the boat slowly to head to another area to fish I turned on my Lowrance X-15 B paper graph to look for a particular rock bar up wind.

It was still dark and I could not use my land marks to locate the bar, as we were far from shore. While watching my graph over deep water around 65 ft. I noticed small piles of rocks on the bottom of the lake, but as we began reaching shallower water, around 60, 55, up to 45ft. the humps and rocks stopped showing up on my graph until I got to about 30 ft. deep, then they reappeared. When I turned the boat and went back down the drop off I noticed some of the arches were actually about 6 inches or a foot off the bottom. After retying my guests line to heavier jigs tipped with a 2 inch red tail chub, we dropped our lines down to about the 65ft. depth and drifted up the slope of the rock bar. We never did get in to the shallow 5 to 25 ft. of water I was going to actually focus on, as we limited out in about 3 hours of fishing.

This was the deepest I ever caught Walleye at any time of the year and they ranged from 16 to 24 inches long. A new era of Walleye fishing was being created, for my guests. The next morning as the wind dropped off and the waves shrank down to a controllable size, we went back to the weed bed and fished in 7 to 13 ft. of water, although we caught 4 Walleye, there were 2 other boats in the area and we could not work the weed bed as well as I would normally do.

When I mentioned we were going back to the rock bar we limited out on the morning before, the 2 guests moaned and said, that was a fluke, we won't catch anything there. Once we got to the right location, we started off casting a 1/8th oz. jig and minnow towards the 5ft. top and worked them down to about 25 ft., after 30 minutes of working around the bar and no results we seen for our effort, I retied on heavier jigs and moved out to the 65 ft. deep area.

On the way down the ledge I could again see, what looked like deep rocks. These were not rocks, as I fine tuned my graph, we worked vertically with our jigs, "slowly", from 65 ft. up to about 45 ft. and stayed in that depth for the next 2 ½ hrs. We limited out a second time in the same location.

This was all the conformation I needed, the on coming days and weeks my guests and I worked several different rock bars and ledges in the same depths and produced limits of Walleye. Now, we continued to fish shallow on the same lake at twilight conditions and caught fish, but during the day time we fished deep. How is that possible my guests use to ask and they still ask that same question every opening day when I tell them we are starting out in 65 ft. of water vertical jigging. Remember, not all fish spawn along the shoreline and I am not saying the Walleye spawn in 65ft. of water, but they could and some do spawn deeper than the shoreline.

Now that several years have passed, this deep water connection on opening day has been found to work on many, many deep clear lakes all across Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Canada and certain areas of the Great Lakes.

The critical concept for this method of fishing does not only work in the fall as some may think. The lake turn over event, in the spring, dictates when the deep water connection shuts off and when the deep clear lakes turn over, in the fall, this method of fishing takes off again. Does this also happen on other lakes as well? The answer is yes, perhaps to a lesser degree. I guide on 2 dozen different lakes at any one time during the course of the year, my guests and I will say that on some lakes, this "deep water concept on opening day" is hard to beat.

This method of fishing works on many lakes, they do not need to be clear water, or 80 ft. deep, although it does seem to work better on lakes, that do indeed, develop a thermo cline.

Stay positive, think clearly, do not listen to negative talk and do not listen to negative people. God Bless.

Author John Andrew
John Andrew
Captain John Andrew is the owner and operator of The Angler's Choice Guide Service. John began fishing on Wisconsin's Big St. Germain Lake in 1964 at this grandfather's lakefront cabin. As John's passion for fishing grew he apprenticed under legendary Wisconsin Northwoods guide Jules Novak before he began his own guiding career. John holds two World Records in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall Of Fame as well as two Outstanding Angling Achievement awards. Click here for more information on John Andrew and The Angler's Choice Guide Service.