Walleyes Inc. Your one stop internet fishing resourceDaiichi Hooks Try the Bleeding Bait series for the best hooks on the marketLindy Little Joe Fishing TacklePanther Marine ProductsDual Pro Charging Systems the Chargers the Pro's UseRAM MOunting Systems the Ultimate in Electronic Mounting systemsBait Rigs TackleRanger Boats Still buidTrojan Batteries Simply the strongest battery on the marketThe only underwear you need for extreme cold weatherBedfors Sales Illinois # 1 Ranger Boat DealerDaiwa Fishing ReelsDrift Control The Best Drift Sock AvailableWe Didnt Invent Planer Boards we just made them easier and better to useWalleyes Inc. Your one Stop Internet fishing ResourceWalleyes Inc. Your one Stop Internet fishing Resource


Walleye In-Sider save 58% click here

Bass & Walleye Boats Magazine Save 64%  Click here

Cranking For Walleye T Shirt
Check out our T-shirt Line Now in colors and long sleeves
  Walleyes Inc. Pro Team Team Favorites Lodging, food,tackle, equipment and more
 ? Home
 ? Pro Page
 ? Pro's Pointers
 ? Tournaments
 ? Fishing Reports
 ? Fishing Articles
 ? Fishing Clubs
 ? Fishing Links
 ? Resort Links
 ? Guide Links
 ? Press Releases


 ? Walleyes Inc. Store
 ? New Products
 ? Product Links
 ? Boats For Sale
 ? Classifieds
 ? Contact Us

Survivior Livewell Intake System on the Run
Survivor Livewell
Intake System on 
"The Run" 

Click Here For 

More Information

Walleyes Inc quick Change Spinner Pack Special only $5.95
Walleyes Inc. 6 
Pack Spinner 
Pack Special
Only $5.95
Click Here

Lowrance Instructional DVD

Click here for Bruce Samson's Great New Instructionsal Interactive DVD

Pathfinder Scent Dispensing Crankbait Kit

Click here to See New Scent dispensing Crankbaits

Quick Scent Bait Stick
The Ultimate Bait Scent
Click here for more information

Welcome to Walleyes Inc.com Click Here to Check Out Our On-Line Tackle Store

A Few Ideas to Improve your Winter Walleye Fishing
By Jason Mitchell


Fish spook from angling pressure but how much so is cause for debate. During the open water season, we catch fish four feet under the boat quite often. That’s right below the boat, big motor running, livewells running, transducers vibrating…. And the fish often don’t seem to care. There are other days where we can’t get close to fish and either have to cast or long line bait or lures a good distance behind the boat. Under the ice is really no different. Vehicles and generators running usually don’t bother the fish at all from what I have seen but too much commotion can drive fish away in a hurry. Vehicles driving up, causing the ice to pop, even augers drilling more holes can seem to hamper success.

Now obviously at some point, you have to drive up to a spot and you have to drill a hole to catch fish but where is the tipping point? We have to make some commotion obviously to wet a line but when is too much really too much? I don’t have all the answers but I do know what I have seen while using an underwater camera. There are times when fish will scatter in thirty or more feet of water when a vehicle drives up fast. I have also watched fish scatter after drilling more holes. This is a constant dilemma I face while guiding. I know that as soon as I drive away, pick up a few anglers and get back over my hole and drill a few more holes, there is a good chance I will blow the fish off the spot. There is also a chance that I won’t. Which is exactly why trying to determine what will spook fish can be so frustrating. There are days when you can get away with a lot of commotion and the bite beats on while there are other days where the fish spook if you let the lure drop too fast.

Jason Mitchell with a Nice Devils Lake Ice Walleye With walleye fishing in particular, the bite is usually over by the time a good crowd gathers. By the time everybody knows about a bite, the bite is history. Now good spots can fire up again as anglers clear out of a spot and things quiet down but in all my years of ice fishing, I have never seen a spot get better as the mob gathers. This is why the best walleye anglers on the ice don’t talk. Unless you know somebody very well, people will usually never tell you where they are "catching" fish, they dodge the bullet by telling you where they "caught" fish. The simple truth is that if you talk or can’t contain your excitement at the local baitshop or watering hole, you are going to have company on your spot the next night. Now company isn’t bad and neither is sharing information since nobody owns the lake but you best be prepared to find another spot soon because your hot hole will soon be cold. A mob of vehicles and houses will do more to curtail the bite than any cold front.

Using GPS, Maps and the "Off Season"

The key to catching walleye through the ice for me is staying one step ahead of the masses. A good depth of spots to check and knowledge of the lake is certainly beneficial but with the lake maps and GPS mapping capabilities we have today, any angler can go to a lake sight unseen and fish good spots that haven’t been beaten to death. There will come a time when savvy anglers will focus on finding humps, saddles and other walleye tidbits of structure that don’t appear on any map chip as more and more anglers use GPS on the ice. This time is real soon or already here on many lakes that receive serious fishing pressure. On many of the lakes I fish, primarily Devils Lake in North Dakota… many anglers are still trying to find prime structure the hard way. A GPS with a good map chip of the lake you are fishing is becoming crucial. I would rate my GPS as an almost essential tool, right up there with my Vexilar and auger.

Many of my favorite spots that aren’t obvious on a map chip are usually discovered and saved months before during the open water period. I don’t do a lot of traveling to fish and am fortunate enough to be able to make my living fishing one lake where I get to go home every night and sleep in my own bed. Thus I get to spend all summer scoping out spots that might be good once the lake freezes.

If you don’t have this luxury, you can still find spots off the beaten path by really scrutinizing existing lake maps for minor variances that may yield a whole lot more when actually on the water. Many of the better spots I can think of might not look like much on any map but the maps do hint at their presence by indicating something. A map for example might hint of a nice inside turn that cuts up close to shore along a shoreline that doesn’t look all that special. On the water investigation might reveal that the inside turn cuts through a gradually sloping sand flat that has nice shoots of still green coontail. Out from the inside turn before the bottom drops into the lake basin, the bottom actually comes up a foot as the hard mud bottom on the break turns into rock the size of your fist. This spot might be the honey hole. Some years it is, some years it isn’t but just remember that many of the best spots aren’t the most obvious on lake maps or GPS mapping chips. Learning how to scrutinize maps is important. No matter how much I fish a body of water, I am still learning new spots and still looking at maps.

Maximizing the Middle of the Day

There are other ways to obtain crucial information on water that you travel to or don’t get to spend the summer on. During the daylight hours when the sun is high, the bite for walleye notoriously falls off. This might not be a great time for actually fishing but the combination of clear water and a high sun make viewing with an underwater camera extremely effective. With an underwater camera, you can view pieces of the lake bottom and put together a good mental picture as to what lies below. You can see where the rocks start for example. You can actually see the structure you are fishing and imagine what dips and troughs walleye will slide through a few hours ahead when the sun starts to set. Knowing what the lake bottom actually looks like is sometimes surprising yet invaluable information. I am not big on using cameras while I am actually fishing when the target is walleye. Because most of my best fishing is during the low light hours of the day and because I don’t like taking the chance of a real nice fish wrapping around the cord. I still prefer relying on my Vexilar as my underwater eyes when I am actually trying to catch fish. That is not to say however that an underwater camera is an invaluable tool for learning how to become a more astute angler.

Often, patterns emerge that revolve around bottom composition. There are times when if you find softball size rocks in 20 to 30 feet of water, you find walleye. Other times where if you find gravel or sand along shorelines that are mostly hard mud with dense weed growth, these openings where the bottom is a different substrate hold fish. The possibilities are endless but you get the picture. When something is working, a camera can enable you to repeat the pattern elsewhere with more precision.

The Prime Time Hustle

On many lakes, including the lake I spend most of my time on, success for walleye hinges on sunrise and sunset. This prime time period is when most of the fish move up across points, saddles, humps or along shorelines and want to eat… most of the time. There are always exceptions. This prime time is often intense where you will have most of your opportunities squeezed into a narrow window of time. If there is a time to hustle while you are trying to catch walleye through the ice, this is the time. From my time on the water, I have found one simple thing that has increased my catch dramatically and is rather simple… rebait often. When fish come in and won’t hit what I have down, I can often pinch off a new minnow head and get the bait back down in the water much faster than I could actually change the lure itself. How walleye respond to a fresh minnow head is surprising, often responding better to the fresh bait better than if I would have changed lures. That is not to say changing lures isn’t important because it is until you find the "working lure" but adding new meat is as important or more important. If given the choice between switching lures, size, colors, etc.. I would rather get a new and fresh minnow head on the hook and get that piece of meat in front of the fish while it is still below me. During prime time, I will often rebait my hook every five minutes. There is just something about a freshly pinched minnow and I imagine scent plays a big role. I seldom use a whole minnow while I am jigging and prefer to use the head, pinch the minnow in half or even pinch off the tail.

Of all the things you can do this winter to catch more walleye, the baiting factor is often overlooked. Many people change their minnow when they loose the minnow. There are people who will use the same minnow head all night. When the fish are hot, the old minnow works great but nothing triggers turned off fish like a still bleeding minnow head that was just pinched off at the air sack. Juices flowing, intestines dancing, you get the picture. I dare say that many anglers can double the fish they catch by merely getting into the routine of keeping fresh bait on their hooks.

Editors Note: The author Jason Mitchell is a member of Devils Lake’s Perch Patrol Guide Service, (701) 351-3474 and rents deluxe sleeper houses on Devils Lake, (701) 351-1890. Lodging provided by Woodland Resort, 701-662-5996.

Fish Clix Banner Exchange

International Fishing Banner ExchangeInternational Fishing Banner Exchange
International Fishing Banner Exchange