How to Ice Fish for Walleye

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Walleye are some pretty tasty fish, and they are one of the most popular fish for anglers to go for during the winter months. They taste great, they aren’t too large, and aren’t too hard to catch.

That being said, you still need to use the right equipment and ice fishing techniques to bag a few walleyes on your next ice fishing trip. Today we want to go over some tips and advice on how to ice fish for walleyes.

The Lure or Bait

One of the most important components that goes into ice fishing for walleye is what kind of bait or lure you use, as well as the technique.

One of the best techniques to use for walleye is jigging, which involves using an ice fishing jig. Jigging is more or less like yo-yoing the bait up and down to entice the fish to bite. Wait for a few seconds in between each jig, and at the low point, the jig should be a couple feet from the bottom, such as the lakebed.

Another popular type of bait and method of fishing for walleye in the ice is to use swimming baits. These are baits that look like real fish, and you might even want to use real minnows. Movement, especially the swimming motion of smaller fish will help to attract walleye and entice them to bite. Any bait or lure that can produce a lot of realistic movement is ideal.

Something you also need to keep in mind is if you are ice fishing for walleye in clear or dark water. In clear and bright waters, silver colored bait tends to work well, especially spoons which spin and reflect a lot of light. However, for darker waters, you might want to try using really brightly colored baits and lures that will attract walleyes.

The Right Rod

Something else you need to make your walleye ice fishing trip a success is the right rod. Generally speaking, for ice fishing, you want a relatively short rod that is easy to maneuver in a tight space; a rod between 24 and 30 inches is ideal.

Next, getting a rod with a graphite blank isn’t a bad idea either, because graphite blanks tend to be quite strong and sensitive to nibbles. Walleye aren’t too big, so being able to feel small nibbles is important. Moreover, you also want to go for a rod that has a moderate to fast action rating, which will help with hook setting speed, plus with sensitivity to strikes too.

Drill 5 to 10 Holes

Something about walleyes you should know is that they are quite active and avid swimmers. Many ice fishers will only drill 1 or 2 holes, and then wonder why they are not catching anything. Well, walleyes swim back and forth.

Moreover, the hole you drilled in the ice might not be at the ideal location, plus if you try fishing from a single hole too much, all species of fish are instinctively going to become suspicious.

Therefore, to increase your chances of making a catch, and to help reduce suspicion and caution by the fish, drilling many holes a good way apart from each other is recommended.

The Right Location and Time

Now, even if you have the right rod, the right lure, and lots of holes drilled, all of that won’t do you any good if there are no walleye around. In other words, choosing the right location to begin with is absolutely key for success.

First off, it helps to know how deep the water is. If the water is shallow, you are off to a good start. Walleyes often like sticking to shallower waters, especially when there are lots of plants, rocks, and wood stumps to provide them with cover.

Now, some walleyes will swim in deeper waters, but it is rarer, and if you plan on fishing deeper waters, be sure that your lure gets to within a couple feet of the bottom, as walleyes will swim close to the bottom in deeper waters.

What’s also important to note is that fish instincts dictate that they swim in shallower waters when it is darker out and will often stick to deeper waters during the day.

On that same note, walleyes are most active during feeding times, which are during low light hours, but not in total darkness. Therefore, the best time to ice fish for walleye are at dawn and dusk.


At the end of a long day of ice fishing, if you follow all of the tips and techniques described above, you should have a cooler teeming with fresh walleye.

Remember to be patient; fishing, especially ice fishing, is all about patience, and don’t forget to bring warm clothes.

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