In May, most waters regularly populated by walleye are still cold. Furthermore, the majority of the females will be in the post-spawn stages. This adds up to make a prime combination for walleye fishing. This time of year can be tricky, presentation-wise, when you’re targeting these delicious fish, so today we’ll take a look at why slowing things down can yield some big numbers.
Crankbaits, which are most commonly used in warmer waters, can actually be used with deadly efficiency right now if you know how to use them this time of year. The real trick is slowing your trolling speed to a crawl and making sure your crankbaits are tracking true.
You’ll want to make sure your crankbaits are working properly. Even the best color pattern for your waters won't do you any good if it's not running true. The weight of a thrashing fish or sloppiness when removing a hook can leave a kink in your crank. To check your crankbait’s tuning, put it in the water and let out a decent length of line. On a retrieve or off the side of the boat as you move, the lure should dive straight down. If it jerks off to one side, bend the eye in the opposite direction of the way the lure is tracking with needle-nose pliers. The trick is to bend it slightly and readjust until it runs true. Just be sure to be gentle; too much twisting can leave it unusable.
You won’t have too much trouble locating walleye this time of year, as they’ll often situate over areas with muddy bottoms. They’re often found in the top ten feet of the water column, where the sun warms the water. This level also tends to hold the large numbers of baitfish. If this is where you're marking them on your fish finder, it a good bet that they're actively feeding and hunting for bait, which is where your crankbait will come in handy.
Start trolling your baits slowly, like one mile-per-hour slowly, and use an S pattern. This way, your lures will speed up when they’re on one side of the boat and slow down when on the other, which will add variety to your presentation. Another great idea during this process is to stop the boat completely every now and then. Often times, this can get walleye to hit when nothing else seems to work.
You can set yourself up for big walleye this Spring by taking the time to fine-tune your crankbaits and running them super slow on the water. The active, post-spawn behavior of the big females will do most of the work for you; you just have to give them something to strike.