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Spring Walleyes Nows the time

By Gary Engberg

Itís a little later this year mainly because winter has refused to let us out of itís grip. Now, itís almost the first day of spring and the water temperature in the Wisconsin River is still below 40 degrees and I have still have snow in my backyard. Iím lucky enough to live on the lower Wisconsin River, so everyday of the year I can watch it flow by on itís confluence with the Mississippi River.
 Iíve kept a diary for many years of benchmark days like when the geese start migrating north, the first robin, when the lakes open in Vilas county, when turkeyís start strutting, and when the river walleyes start biting and spawn. In comparison to the last few years, we are at least two weeks behind in the coming of spring. The past week has seen hillsides open up tremendously and many fields are just dirt and manure. But,fishing has been behind schedule and has been waiting for the water to warm up. Prime water temperature for spawning walleyes is between 42 and 45 degrees, but this is not etched in stone.
 Soon, you can catch walleyes and saugers regularly on most of Wisconsinís and the midwests rivers.I see boats stacked up where one could throw a net over all of the boats. Not all walleyes are within 100 yards of the dam. Walleyes start migrating upriver in the fall and winter and stage and find comfortable areas miles below the dams.
 The point here is that you can find walleyes miles below the dams if you try and find them.You will be surprised.
 Walleyes in river systems have to eat everyday just to maintain their body weight. They will bite if you can find them and that is the puzzle you have to solve.
 River walleyes use current breaks to stay out of the river flow. Anything that can break or deflect the riverís flow is a possible holding spot for fish. This can be logs or wood, rocks and boulders, bridge abutments, curves and bends in the river itself, and wing dams which initial purpose was to deflect the river current. These arenít the only places youíll find fish in the spring, but itís a good place to start. One other place that bears mentioning is feeder creeks and streams that flow into the main river.
 Another factor which can attract and trigger walleyes to bite is warmer water. This may come from run-off or areas that have a mud bottom which warms quicker. A degree or two is a tremendous difference to fish coming out of the winter doldrums. The warmer water also attracts zooplancton which is food for walleyes and forage fish.
 This time of the year when the water is cold one needs to use a slow presentation. Jigging works well this time of year especially if you tip your jig with a plastic twister tail and or a fathead minnow. If you plan to vertical jig use enough weight to tap the bottom and keep your line up and down. Too much weight will cause you to snag up and too light a jig will cause you to lose contact with the bottom. Experimentation is the key to finding the proper weight.
 If you work a jig slowly and use a weedless jig like the Bait Rigs Weedmaster, you can cast to shallower water and work the jig back slowly. Remember the key this time of year is a slow presentation.
 Another rig that works is a plain hook, like a VMC colored hook with a bead above the hook and a split shot above the bead anywhere from 1 to 2 feet. This simple approach works when other techniques fail. Sometimes simple is better.
 Trolling up river with a 3- way rig can be deadly at times. Use about a foot dropper to your weight or heavy jig and run a floating stick bait like a Mannís Loudmouth Jerkbait on the other ring. Floating jigheads which be in your arsenal too.
 Lastly, wading can be deadly in the earlier spring especially in the early morning and at dusk. Casting stickbaits works well in low light conditions.
 These tips should help you become a better spring walleye angler.. 
GARY ENGBERG OUTDOORS
10106 Hwy.  Y   Mazomanie,Wi.    53560
   Phone & Fax    608 795-4208
   E-mail    gengberg@chorus.net
Copyright Gary Engberg Outdoors
 



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