The walleye bite on the Iowa Great Lakes is just starting to heat up. I have enjoyed a few successful trips while chasing the toothy critters this season, and I thought I would share with you a few pointers to help you put a few more fish in the bucket.
There are many different ways to catch them, but without a doubt, my favorite way to attack walleye in the IGLs is with jigging spoons.
With the new technology available for today's ice angler, the variety of sizes, shapes, colors and actions of jigging spoons is as vast as one's imagination.
Walleye go crazy for jigging spoons all winter long on the Iowa Great Lakes.
EDN photo by Matt Heinrichs
Spoons can be designed to flutter, fall straight, dart, zig and zag. They can represent any number of forage options from minnows to baby perch, to any combination of colors that might peak a walleye's interest.
So where should you start when selecting a jigging spoon?
There are two "go-to" types of spoons with me at all times. The first is a Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon and the second is a Lindy Rattlin' Flyer.
The Buck-Shot spoon has a sleek design, in turn making its presentation subtle and more vertical. For shy walleye, this type of spoon is the ticket, as the slightest movement is needed to trigger a strike.
The Rattlin Flyer, on the other hand, has a more aggressive design and action. It has little "ears" on the sides of the bait that make it tumble through the water column and dart from side to side when jigged. For aggressive walleye, this spoon can trigger a strike so fierce that the fish will nearly yank the pole right out of your hands. Either style gets the job done at different times.
As far as sizes and finishes go, I tend to lean towards the medium-sized baits for this area because of the great amount of 14 to 15-inch fish that are present. My two favorite finishes are anything that represents a minnow or a perch. Also, since it is the walleye's nature to feed more aggressively at low-light periods, I always make sure I have a variety of spoons that glow.
The glow of the baits and the vibrations from the rattle give the angler the ability to call fish into the strike zone from great distances, which is exactly what you're after as an ice fisherman with limited mobility.
These baits by themselves can sometimes trigger strikes, but you will increase your catch even further if you add the sense of smell to your presentation.
A good majority of walleye anglers swear by live bait such as minnows, but new advancements in the ice fishing industry have given us a great array of soft baits to add to our arsenal.
Just this season Berkley has extended its Gulp! Alive line to include soft-plastic minnow heads, specifically designed for the ice fishermen.
Tipping your spoon with one of these minnow heads gives you numerous advantages over live bait.
First of all, you don't have to keep them alive and secondly you don't have to carry a large, clumsy minnow bucket, as the small vial that they come in can easily fit inside a coat pocket. An additional advantage is that they stay on the hook much longer than live bait, giving you more time with rod in hand.
My first two walleye of this season actually came on a Northland Buck-Shot spoon tipped with a Gulp! Alive Minnow Head and they were two of my biggest walleye through the ice to date at 21.5 and 23 inches.
If you're looking for new and exciting ways to increase the amount of walleye fillets in your freezer, I suggest giving these baits a try. You won't be disappointed.