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Walleyes Through The Ice

By Bob Jensen - February 1, 2011

In many areas of the Midwest, we are entering a time of year when walleye fishing through the ice can be pretty good. In some states, or in parts of some states, walleye season closes and walleyes can't be targeted, but in those areas where you can still chase walleyes, the bite can be very rewarding. Here's how you can get in on the action.

There are a lot of things that you can do this time of year to increase your chances for getting bit. First, just like any time of the year, you've gotta find the fish.

Second, there are times of the day that are better. Day in and day out, early and late in the day will be more productive: Late in the day is my favorite. Weather can change the productive times. The best advice for when to go: Go whenever you can.

Lastly, keeping an eye on your sonar is critical. It's important to know that there are fish in the area, but it's also very important to know how the fish are responding to your lure. Lure selection and presentation can be critical. If you see fish looking at your lure but not eating it, you need to make some changes.

Sometimes the walleyes want a lure worked aggressively, sometimes they prefer a more subtle presentation. This is when you really need to pay attention to what you're doing.

Let's say you're working the lure very aggressively, snapping it up and down pretty quickly. You see several fish come in and look, but they don't eat. Just try working the lure slower. Don't change to another lure or another color or another size: Just slow down. Show a slower presentation to the fish. If a couple more come in and look but don't eat, then make a lure or color or size change.

It's also important that you know the fish are seeing the lure. The bottom of the lake is just like the ground that we walk on: There are high and low points. It could be that there is a rise in the lake bottom between your bait and the fish. The walleye is just a few feet away from your bait but can't see it because there's something in between the fish and the lure. Be sure to lift your bait a couple feet off the bottom every now and then to increase the odds of the fish seeing your lure.

Later in the ice season, the walleyes have seen every type of ice-fishing bait ever made. Try showing them something they haven't seen for awhile. When the fish are really selective, go to a traditional jig. A stand-up Fire-Ball jig would be a great choice. Drop the jig to the bottom and let it just sit there. The stand-up Fire-Ball is selected because, due to its design, the minnow will stand up off the bottom. Bounce it up and down on the bottom a few times, then let it sit still. The jig bouncing off the bottom will create a small, temporary dust cloud and will attract the walleyes(and perch). When they investigate, they'll see that minnow wiggling and will hopefully eat it.

Late season is a great time to be on the ice. If you can get out, and if walleye season is still open where you live, take advantage of it. If walleye season isn't still open, you should consider traveling somewhere where it is open. The action can be good enough to justify a little extra effort to get in on it.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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