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Use Cold Front Conditions for Early Season Walleyes
 By Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail touring ProEarly season walleye fishing has some of the same situations as summertime cold front conditions. Concentrate your fishing in prime, deep water areas.  I know that fish usually move into the shallows during the early season looking for minnows that move into the warmer water.  Normally, deep water walleyes are not strong biters, but in comparison they will be less spooky than shallow water walleyes and less affected by angling pressure. Therefore, by concentrating on the deeper fish, in 12 feet or so, you minimize the spooking factor and find the biting fish.
A very important locational key is finding a fast dropoff or breakline, that has a hard bottom. Or  inside turns which form pockets in the underwater structural elements such as bars, points or sunken islands.
Rock and rubble are important structure for a successful hatch.  The eggs must have something uneven to fall into to be protected from small predator fish which will feed on the eggs.  To provide ideal spawning conditions the water temperature should warm slowly and constantly with no severe temperature swings or wave action during the gestation and hatching period.  The north and east shorelines are usually the areas where a majority of the walleyes spawn.  While the fish do not know east from west or north from south, what makes these shore lines most desirable is the fact that the sun penetrates the north and east shore lines with the hottest sun of the day.  Therefore, the water is the warmest close to shore and in some cases, the ice can be ten feet from shore and the lake is covered with ice yet the walleyes will spawn.

Remember, live bait will normally put more fish in the boat than artificials.  The walleyes are coming off an iced up period of time and they are looking for large amounts of food and minnows provide the most nutritional value over leeches and nightcrawlers.  Besides it is more of a tasty morsel than a hard body crankbait.  Think of times when you are extremely hungry.  Would you prefer to chew on a piece of hard candy or sink your teeth into a juicy steak?  I think we all would agree that the more natural the bait is and the more inticing that it looks the better
your chance of success on early walleyes.

Fishing slowly is a key to catching these inactive fish, allowing the bait to move at a snails pace along the bottom.  Visualize the bait inching along, wiggling in front of a walleyes face.  This gives
inactive fish time to look over the offering, and it may trigger a bite.  Sometimes, several passes through the area may be necessary to trigger a fish, so patience is  a constant factor.  Most inactive or nonaggressive walleyes are not going to chase or immediately chomp on an offering.  However, if you keep your sinker stationary while the minnow continues to struggle in front of the walleyes face, it may be too tempting to resist.  Quality live bait provides natural appearance,
odor, feel, taste and action. 

In order to aid in trolling slowly, I recommend using an electric trolling motor.  My Motorguide trolling motors is very quiet and enables an ultra slow presentation.  Under normal wind conditions, the MotorGuide is perfect for maneuvering the boat precisely along the dropoffs and through the
pockets.  Another great technique is to anchor and cast, using your electric motor to swing the transom of the boat into shallow water. Keep in mind these pre-spawn patterns, take some notes from this article and carry them with you and refer to them if the fishing is slow.  Use a very, very slow retrieve technique as the water is still cold and the fish metabolism is low and they will not attack or chase a fast  moving meal.  Work a likely area for and hour or more and if any fish are
caught, keep working the area or any similar area, walleyes are a schooling fish.  If you have the misfortune to hit a cold front ( as little as five degrees lower than average from the day before) you will find that the walleye action will be noticeably slower. Walleyes in the spring are just like walleyes in cold front conditions. 

You have to put some time in on the water to catch them, but the rewards are remarkable.

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