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Searching for walleyes

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When fishing for walleyes on open water I have a reputation for working an area to death. I'm interested in what others do. When seeking out walleyes, how much time do you spend checking out a particular area/structure before moving on?  What tactics/methods do you find successful?


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I never leave fish to find fish. So if I am working structure and it doesn't have fish I am moving on.  You can easily cover a lot of ground in open water so I just move and explore until I start seeing fish.

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I have a hard time with relying on electronics to determine there are fish present. I don't have side imaging so the amount of water I might be looking at is going to be extremely narrow. 

Case in point. This weekend I was sitting over 12' of water along a weed edge. Looking at my sonar one would be led to believe there were no fish in the area however, when I lowered my camera lens down and looked around I could see schools of crappies. I'm betting I could only see about 10' or maybe 15' of distance with the water clarity and amount of light penetration under the ice. 

One of the reasons for using out-riggers or planer boards is because it is felt that the fish will move out away from the boat as it passes over and the planer boards puts the lures in front of them. Doesn't this also suggest that not seeing fish on the sonar does not mean they are not there? 

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I agree with you BobT.  And will add, when Walleye are sucked to the bottom in structure, I have yet to find electronics that show them consistently.  I just started using Jigging Raps recently, and that is my search lure now.  They seem to trigger fish to bite, sometimes can turn a school of fish on to biting that were otherwise negative.  Can cover ground pretty quick with a Jigging Rap to find those positive biting fish.

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 If I pull up to a spot that I know well and see fish , yes I will work it good , and if no fish show on electronics , that's usually not a deal breaker for that spot for me , as I will definitely give it at least a once or twice over also , with trying a quick few presentations...  this especially holds true in shallow water , as the boat itself will cause fish to somewhat scatter .... I too will not leave fish to find fish , usually a change of color and/or presentation will trigger some more fish to bite ... patience is important to me , 

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I guess it just depends on how confident you are with your electronics. I will agree it may be hard to see fish sitting in a weed line etc or to get target separation between what is a rock boulder or fish etc. With advancements in DI and SI as well as things like the new Panopix its getting much easier to differentiate now.  And sonar angles and directions are much wider so its getting easier to cover a lot of water. 

Still have to get them to bite though.

I find now days I almost have more fun just watching the map chip and looking for new structure and areas to target than I do fishing.

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Okay, so you pull up to a spot (point, hump, inside turn, flat, or whatever) how much time do you spend working it before you decide nothing is going to happen and move on? This is where I get my reputation. I keep thinking, they can turn on at any minute and of course it'll be right after I leave. 

I remember one day about five years ago I was fishing with some buddies on Vermillion. We were sitting the narrows in front of the boat launch at Moccasin Point. Every once in a while a sheet of ice would float through so we had to move to avoid it. At one point, since there wasn't too much happening, my fishing partner and I decided to work our way around the island in front of Moccasin Point so we come in behind the ice sheet that was floating through. Naturally, when we finally came around the other boats with us couldn't help but to tell us how the fish turned on during that half-hour while we were gone.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'll usually check 4-5 spots and if no fish anywhere I'll go back to spot #1 and start over.  Can usually find something along the way.  Small areas get about 15 min.  Long, large areas will get one pass up and one back.  Then move on.

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  • 11 months later...

I'm with you Bob - I never have enough confidence in my electronics (or advanced enough side imaging, etc) to be 100% confident there are fish so it's tough to fully embrace the "never leave fish to find fish" motto if I'm not sure there are fish. 


While it's not scientific, I think sometimes it's six one way a half dozen the other way when it comes to staying another 15-30 minutes at a spot vs. trying the next spot. If you're on a body of water with a handful of key spots you typically hit, it's impossible to know if you're better served to wait it out on a good spot with fish or go look elsewhere. 


To an extent it depends on personal preference, but generally speaking it sounds like you're thorough enough and I do think that is a smart approach as opposed to burning gas and burning time running too quickly from spot to spot rather than grinding out a bite. 


Not too helpful, but for what it's worth I can relate to your question / dilemma. 

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