Tagging study results have indicated that walleyes are highly mobile and travel numerous miles to reach spawning locations. They also move vertically in the water column relating to oxygen content, water temperature and light penetration.
The spawning migration of walleyes begins soon after the ice goes out, at water temperatures of 38-44ºF and peak when water temperatures reach 42-50ºF. Walleyes spawn at night in depths between 2′ and 6′ over sand or gravel bottoms. After spawning walleye tend to remain in shallow water (under 15ft) to feed and can stay shallow all day, due the low angle of the spring sun that has little effect on their light sensitive eyes.
Once summer arrives the water temperature increases and light from the sun (higher in the sky) forces the walleye to deeper water (15 to 30 feet) during the day. However during diminished light, early morning and into the evening (dusk) walleye will move in shallow areas to feed using cover and structure (weeds, brush piles, wood and rock humps)
In fall walleyes will move shallower as the surface temperature begins to cool. The fall sun once again is lower on the horizon allowing walleye to feed during the day. As the lakes experience fall turnover walleyes scatter, when the water temperature drops into the lower 40’s and the oxygen content is constant in all depths, walleyes are usually found deeper.
Ice fishing accounts for many big walleye catches, especially first ice. In shallow lakes the walleye bite may continue for 3 to 4 weeks. In deeper lakes walleyes also bite best at first ice, and will continue into mid to late winter. Because walleye prefer low to dim light your better fishing ice walleye at dawn and dusk rather than midday. Dark overcast days out produce sunny days. If you find a walleye hotspot during the summer such as rock piles shoreline points, submerged islands there’s a good chance that you’ll find them there in the winter.
Natural Lakes Prime Locations:
- Shallow extended weed flats and reefs will hold walleye in Spring and Fall. Fish the edges
- Wind swept shorelines having gravel-rubble will attract walleye spawning. Fish sloping points or breaklines adjacent to the spawning grounds.
- Deep reefs, humps and man-made cribs are good summer spots, especially those
connected to other structure or saddles.
- Sharp drop-offs located in the main lake basin will produce walleye from late summer to early fall.
- Breaklines that have many irregular features points, transitions from rock to weeds will hold more walleye in summer and fall
Man-Made Flowages Impoundments Prime Locations:
- Riprap shoreline embankments will provide good spawning habitat and will hold walleye into early summer
- Flowage feeder streams that have deep pools will concentrate pre spawn walleye early in the year and often produce.
- Old river channels will attract walleye as well, concentrate on sharp sloping points and inside and outside turns
- Main lake structure, deepwater large humps, reefs, points and bars having a gradual slope will hold walleye than points the drop off rapidly
River & Streams Prime Locations:
- Tailwaters below dams will hold walleye from late fall into early spring. Fish the eddies alongside the fast current
- Wing dams makes ideal feeding areas from spring into fall. Walleye can be on top or either side the front or back slope.
- Gravel and rocky shorelines with current will attract walleye in summer and fall as they produce more food than sandy or muck bottoms.