As the ice retreats and the waters open, signaling the start of the early spring season, the anticipation among anglers grows—not just for any catch, but for the elusive, pre-spawn walleye. It's a time when the fish of a lifetime becomes more than just a dream; it's a tangible goal. Armed with line counters, custom crankbaits, and a strategic approach to trolling, let’s dive into how you can maximize your early spring walleye fishing expeditions.
The Crankbait Strategy: Cover More Water, Find More Fish
Early spring presents a unique challenge; walleye are on the move, making it essential to cover vast areas of water efficiently. This is where crankbaits shine.
Custom Crankbaits: These lures are not just over-the-counter baits from your local shop; they're your underwater scouts. Custom crankbaits present options fish haven't seen that can make all the difference. Their erratic action and vibrant colors are irresistible to walleye, especially when you lock in on the right color and bait profile.
Trolling Techniques: Trolling allows you to explore large water areas methodically. By adjusting your speed and the depth of your crankbaits, you can target walleye at different water columns effectively. You're goal in trolling is to get crankbaits down to where walleye are at this time of year - around structure preparing for the spawn.
Gear Up: Essential Trolling Gear Setups
Making sure you have the right gear before you head out is crucial. Early spring walleye trolling requires a specific setup for optimum results.
Rod and Reel: A medium-light to medium action rod paired with a reliable reel equipped with a line counter helps in precise depth setting. when you're trolling you need to make sure you're finding fish in a way that's easy to replicate. Having a line counter and reliable trolling rod is critical to keep your crankbait in the walleye’s strike zone and will increase your chances tremendously.
The Right Line: While everyone has their preferences there's generally one key principle when trolling walleye. Most anglers use braided line due to its sensitive touch and rugged durability as their mainline. At the end of your line, you'll put a small bead and a swivel. From there, tie on roughly 6ft of a clear 10-12lb fluorocarbon line to a snap swivel.
Diving Depth and Speed: Understanding the diving depth of your crankbaits and adjusting your trolling speed accordingly are pivotal. Depending on the crankbait you're using will determine how deep you can fish. In most cases you're fishing between 10-30' deep, over structure, covering a lot of water to find fish. Utilize line counters to ensure your bait runs at the desired depth, right where the walleye are feeding.
Selecting the Perfect Crankbait: Color and Profile Matter
When it comes to crankbaits, not all are created equal. The selection of color and bait profile plays a significant role in early spring walleye fishing.
Color Selection: Early spring water can be murky or clear, depending on recent thaw and runoff. In murkier waters, opt for bright or neon colors for visibility. In clearer conditions, more natural, subdued colors can be more effective in luring walleye. Under the clouds opt for something with a little more flash like chrome or holographic tapes.
Bait Profile: The size and shape of your crankbait should mimic the natural prey of walleye in your fishing area. Pay attention to the local forage and choose your baits accordingly. This mimicry can be the difference between going home empty handed and filling the freezer.
Embarking on Your Early Spring Walleye Adventure
With your boat rigged, your gear set, and your custom crankbaits at the ready, the early spring waters await. This season, embrace the challenge of trolling for walleye, utilizing the versatility and efficiency of crankbaits to cover water and entice those elusive, pre-spawn females.
As you prepare for your next outing, remember that the right gear, a strategic approach, and the perfect selection of crankbaits can set the stage for unparalleled fishing success. Visit our shop for the latest in walleye trolling gear setups, custom crankbaits, and everything you need to turn the early spring walleye season into a series of unforgettable catches.
If your box is a little light on colors, make sure you check out our Custom Bandit Crankbaits to make sure you have plenty of color options.
We’d love to hear about your early spring walleye triumphs (and challenges)! Share your stories, tips, and favorite crankbait selections in the comments below.