Targeting Minnesota Spring Walleye
The 2020 spring Walleye bite has been hot to say the least. I partly attribute that to being able to be on the water much more than normal, due to the whole Covid-19 thing. My boys have been unable to play baseball, and that means no weekend tournaments. Each week seemingly got better and better – read on to see the size progression!
Since the Minnesota Walleye Opener, each weekend proved to be better than the last. Opening weekend produced a few eater size 'eyes, which we were ecstatic to catch. Normal openers are a bust in northern Minnesota, specifically Alexandria in my case. It's usually too early in the year to get any action – at least for the novice, weekend angler like myself.
We fished Sauk Lake the second weekend for the first time – a lake that was on our list for a while and home to annual Walleye tournaments. This lake inspired the Sauk Lake Collection that's in my shop. We were able to snag into a handful of Walleyes and again, by our standards, that was a success.
We were able to snag into a handful of Walleyes the following weekend, an 18.5-inch and 23-inch were boated on a lake that we haven't been able to pull a Walleye out of for 4-years!
Again, we only were able to snag 2 Walleyes, but you guessed it – they are growing! An 20-inch and 27-inch were boated on the same lake as week 3. Each have been at different locations, but we were beginning to see a pattern on this lake, which told us the first 2 weren't just a fluke.
This trip was with some buddies and we hit same lake as the previous weekend just for a couple hours before sunset and it provided a 21-incher for a buddy! The next day was dead-calm and bluebird skies. We lathered on the sunscreen and I threw on my neck gaiter to keep the sun off of my ears and neck. We decided to target a lake that I've always heard good things about, but because of busy schedules of past years, we just never spread our reach too much. The wind picked up and we nearly doubled a 25-inch and 26-inch Walleye. And on another small lake produced 9 'eyes of which the largest was 23-inches.
We were really getting the hang of it now! 18 'eyes were boated over a 3-day period, on two small lakes. My son is only 15 years old and really didn't think he'd catch a fish bigger than his personal best of 22.5-inches in his lifetime. I've been to Canada, Mille Lacs Lake, and Lake of the Woods and still haven't boated one over 27.5-inches (of which was caught on a small Minnesota lake). It was hard to believe that Zack pulled in a new personal best – a whopping 28-inches!
OK, we took a weekend off to hit some graduation parties. Week 8 was June 26-28 and technically summer, but our tactics hadn't changed. But it really gave us a challenge. It was too hot to fish during the day, and I had only caught 3 walleyes in 2 evenings and 2 mornings. Zack hadn't boated a walleye all weekend, until shorty after 10AM on Sunday as we were about ready to take a break. He snagged into another nice 28-inch, his second of the year to match his personal best!
Check out the catch-and-release here:
4 Takeaways for a successful Spring Walleye Season in Minnesota
Fish hard – fish often
We were on the water whether it was too hot, too cold, too windy, or too wet. My favorite pants are ones that zip off to convert to shorts, they're cool enough to wear all day–even if not zipped off. A neck gaiter is also essential for warmth on cool days, and to keep the sun off on hot days.
Diversify your bait
Present differing bait, no two anglers should attempt to use the same bait until you see a pattern. We tried fatheads, shiners, leeches, and crawlers. Early season proved to lean toward minnow, the type depended on the lake we were on. River-fed lakes preferred shiners.
Diversify your lure selection
We tried spinners, floaters, and plain hooks, (with differing snell lengths). Plus jigs, which proved to be a non-factor no matter the lake or bait.
Don't ignore non-Walleye spots
We caught a few nice ones in areas that didn't necessarily look like it would even hold an 'eye. Shallow near bulrushes, the calm side of the lake, or the spot on the map that has very little definition.
What's your favorite lake?
Check my line of lake inspired products to find your favorite lake! Don't see it? Let me know what your favorite lake is in the comments, or send me a message and I'll design one and add it to my shop!