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Substantially Improving Your Walleye Catch Ratio      by Dave Reed

  Pretty sight netting a big walleye!  

The reason so many people love walleye fishing is because walleye are a special breed of creature that can be one heck of a lot of fun to catch, especially on light tackle. For me a large part of the fun is just figuring out their seasonal patterns, pinpointing their locations and discovering their feeding habits. I learned an incredible trait about walleye that has doubled, tripled and even quadrupled my own catch ratios.

Walleye are one of the top two dominant predators in most any lake that they reside. They have learned to hunt in groups and as most anglers already know they have developed eyes that give them a distinct advantage over their prey in low light conditions. Walleye are well known for being nighttime feeders. But don’t think you have to miss your sleep in order to catch plenty of walleye. Surprisingly they are also readily available during non nighttime hours. I encourage walleye anglers to read carefully on how to adjust their tactics to catch more of them in the daylight.


During daylight hours, especially morning and evening hours, walleye tend to remain close to areas that they have fed during the night. Many of these walleye are still available to daylight anglers simply because the walleye just didn’t fill themselves adequately during the night. Maybe it was too light or maybe the barometric pressure wasn’t right but the fact remains they still need to eat to survive.

So why do they seem so hard to locate and catch during the day? Here is my secret, walleye feed differently during daylight then they feed in the dark. At night a walleye’s eyes give them a tremendous advantage over baitfish. They will strike and grab prey without mercy or even the slightest hesitation. In the dark they have the upper hand and they know it using it without hesitation.


However, daytime is a different matter. Walleye no longer have an advantage over perch and other baitfish. These baitfish are their most active during the day and have evolved to be faster and more wary. In response the walleye have developed a unique way of feeding that can improve your catch results.

During the daylight hours a walleye is unsure of his opportunity to catch a baitfish so it will strike at the prey with no intention of eating it. The walleye has learned that it has to conserve its energy during the day so it will simply snap at prey with those two sharp front teeth intending only to stun it. Next they just watch to see what happened to the baitfish. If the bait falls fluttering to the bottom, the walleye will follow it down like a cat playing with a mouse. If the bait settles and then begins to move the walleye will snap at it again trying to stun it.


Look real close in the upper left corner and you can see a rainbow which may be why she caught this big walleye!


However it’s important to note, if a walleye snaps at your bait and then you pull the bait briskly away there is little chance that the walleye will expend the energy necessary to chase it down. That’s because the first rule of nature says that no creature should expend more energy chasing a prey than it will receive in calories from that prey when it catches and eats it.

Light tackle means you only need to sweep the rod for a solid hook up ratio.  

So let’s put this information into a strategy to catch more fish. Let’s say that you are drifting with a jig and worm through a good area on a windy day. You use a jig that is just heavy enough to get to the bottom in the heavy wind. On light 6# test line an 1/8 oz. jig will stay near the bottom while the boat is drifting at 4 to 5 mph. Occasionally you will might feel a perch or a bluegill going tap-tap-tap. That’s because these small bait stealers like to grab a worm and just hang on for the ride. Train yourself not to set the hook on these guys.!


In fact with this tactic the first rule is NEVER set the hook. I need to warn you that until you can train your mind to quit setting the hook it will be a natural instinct and you are going to do it and you are going to lose your bait often. If you are using the lightest tackle with the sharpest hooks possible it is never going to be necessary to set the hook when you are walleye fishing! You’ll see why soon.

If the bite is a perch and you set the hook then you probably just wasted a good worm. If it was a walleye, it will not go tap-tap-tap. When it is a walleye all you will feel is a quick and more solid single tap and then often times nothing. That strong tap was the walleye “stunning” your jig. Just after this tap the walleye expects to see your jig flutter injured to the bottom. He follows it and watches it as it hits the bottom. The split second you move it again he will snap at it trying again to stun it.


About this time you’re probably thinking now’s the time to set the hook, right? If you want to increase your catch ratio don’t ever set the hook! I hope that you are starting to get a theme here. Especially if you are jig fishing, you will never need to set the hook to catch a walleye. Your jig should always be small enough and sharp enough that it will catch itself in the walleye’s mouth without any need to jerk on it. When the walleye has finally accidently hooked itself you will feel the additional weight and instead of dropping the jig to the bottom again you will be able to sweep your rod with a steady motion and begin to head the walleye your way.

  Visit Paul Fenwick's website.

So the most natural question here might be why aren’t we setting the hook? The key reason is because if you set the hook you will be pulling the jig out of the range that a walleye is willing to chase it down. I call the method dropping back to walleye and I have proven it works to everyone that I have fished with. By learning to drop back every time a walleye "stuns" your bait I guarantee that your catch ratio will increase beyond your expectations.


Author- Dave Reed

Author - Dave Reed is a website designer at OBXOPS Inc., recreational angler, founder of Eye Catcher Offshore Lures and Teasers, past BASS tournament fisherman and charter fisherman, current a light tackle guide for walleye and smallmouth.





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