ice walleyeCompared to casting from a boat, ice fishing is definitely a different animal. There’s something to be said about the excitement one feels when they’re fighting a fish—bluegill or pike—on the light tackle that accompanies ice fishing. Since fish tend to move and react a little slower in cold waters, the scent and movement of live bait is a big help. One of the most targeted species through the ice each winter is walleye, and today we’ll take a closer look at how you can use suckers to catch them through the ice.

Cold fronts can blow through without warning, which can have a negative impact on walleye action. When you experience this lack of interest from walleye, try experimenting in one of your drilled holes with different rattle lures with a larger profile. Often times, this will be enough to bring fish into the area. When the fish start to become interested, go with a five to six-inch sucker in your second hole.

Jigging with lures in one hole to draw walleye in will be what brings the fish to you, but that big sucker will keep them there and attract strikes. Make sure the suckers are big, lively, and healthy, though, as their appeal will stem from their struggling action and size. Anglers hardly ever use suckers for walleye, they use shiners or leeches, so the fish aren’t used to seeing them.

Be sure to use a good setup with a sucker. I’ve had some great success with a red hook, with an offset color bead—usually gold—to mix up the color scheme. Also, hook the sucker minnow underneath the dorsal fin. This will ensure that it can still move around freely and won’t die from being hooked through any vital organs.

This two-hole combination of artificial enticer and live sucker has helped a great many ice anglers achieve walleye success through the ice and I know it can help you, too. While you’re at the bait shop picking up your ice bait this winter, be sure to grab some suckers to help fill your freezer with walleye fillets. We all love bluegill and crappie, but there’s just something to be said about freshly caught walleye. Using suckers will help get you that much closer to tasting it for yourself.