How To Catch More Winter Bass And Walleyes Right Now!

All those rod-and-reel combos that Santa put under Christmas trees don’t have to be stuck in closets until spring. Fishing prospects for walleyes, saugers and yellow perch are good in Washington’s Columbia River, the northern end of the Mississippi River, below the dams of the Missouri River from the Dakotas to Montana, and along the Great Lakes waterfronts. The weather holds the trump card, as some shorelines freeze early in the season during extremely cold winters. In rivers and lakefronts that don’t freeze, however, fishing for walleyes and yellow perch can be excellent.

Trolling or drifting lures and jigs is a productive technique for catching winter walleyes in rivers. Hiring a local fishing guide is the best place to start.

Because the concrete seawalls and rock jetties that line harbors and inlets tend to retain warmth longer than natural structure, the water around them doesn’t freeze as quickly as it does on smaller lakes. And it may not freeze at all. Likewise, algae and other miniature food sources are available to baitfish longer. These, in turn, lure walleyes, perch and even bluegills to within casting distance of shore-bound anglers.

All a fisherman needs is a few warm layers of clothes to wear, a modicum of fishing tackle, a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee, and a chair to sit in. Contact local tourism agencies or guides for more information about urban fishing. Pat Harrison Outdoors guide service for instance, covers the Chicago area waterfront as well as southern Wisconsin.

Out on open water accessible by boat, plan to fish deep – 30 feet or more – if walleyes are on the menu. Although it’s possible to catch walleyes from shore, trolling below spillways and offshore inlets, and around harbor mouths and warm-water discharges from power plants is a more popular approach. Because the fish tend to suspend, deep-diving crankbaits such as the Rapala TT20, Yo-Zuri 3D Magnum Deep Diver or Crystal Minnow Deep Diver and countdown spoons such as the Al’s Goldfish are hard to beat. Otherwise, hot pink or chartreuse cannonball-head jigs tipped with minnows and slowly jigged on bottom will work.

Fishing with children is as easy as setting up on any of numerous municipal piers and docks such as Chicago’s famed Navy Pier or Milwaukee’s Cupertino Pier. Nightcrawlers, mealworms and other live baits are okay for yellow perch and bluegills, but flavored artificial baits such as Gulp! Pinched Crawler, PowerBait Ice Mayfly, Gulp! Leech and Gulp! Minnow are almost effective as the real thing, and a lot easier to use.

Quick Tip: Walleyes and yellow perch are schooling fish. Stick around when you catch one; dozens more are likely to be in the vicinity and ready to bite. On the flip side, if you don’t get a bite in one place, move on and try a different spot a few yards away.


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