After struggling to try to get a monster walleye through the ice for over three weeks I got a tip from a friend that there was a better time and place for that than sitting on the hard water. The tip was to find open water, to go at night between 9pm and 4am. But the most crucial part of the success you’ll have lies in the selection and presentation of your bait. As well as a willingness to lose your bait on every cast! But for those brave enough, or crazy enough, to rewards can be pretty amazing.
Top start with you really need a spinning rod. Fishing at night with the kind of baits you’re going to use are best done with light line, long casts, and a very slow retrieve. I prefer a 6’10” medium rod, fast action. I use 6lb fluorocarbon line, spooled on a 5.8:1 spinning reel. I use a jerkbait that’s between 3 and 4 inches long (like the Vision 110), suspending, and I like the colors to be any of these: chartreuse and red, blue and silver, gold, perch.
Your presentation is the most crucial key to your success or failure. You need to make really long casts. Once the bait hits the water you want to reel quickly, 7 - 10 times to get the bait down in the water column. Then you want to reel as slow as humanly possible. By slow I mean that if you count “One One Thousand, Two One Thousand, Three One Thousand…” etc, it should take you to the count of 10 to complete one full turn of the reel. Then periodically you’ll want to mix in some very fast half turns of the reel. This will trigger bites from any fish that are slowly following your bait, trying to decide if they want to eat it or not. When the fish do hit they’ll hit it pretty hard and essentially set the hook themselves because your line is already tight and your rod has plenty of give.
Our location is top secret. Serious walleye guys, like my friends who took me, would really be upset if I told the world where we were. What I can tell you is that we were fishing open water with fair current, where there is a lot of big, chunk rock. We were fishing depths that are relatively shallow, maybe 9 feet max with an average depth of 6-7 feet, and it’s an area that is loaded with underwater hazards that will claim your lures. Rocks and trees are numerous and you’ll lose many baits if you’re not careful because you want to be in the lower portion of the water column. It’s also really great if you can do this on a full moon with a clear sky because the fish will be even more active.
I can’t wait to get out and do this again. If you have had success doing this or something similar please share your pictures in a comment!