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Lindner's Angling Buzz: Walleye Mastery

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Lindner's Angling Buzz: Walleye Mastery

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Springtime is big walleye time, and we are diving in on all things walleye. I love doing this, including favorite springtime baits of the pros, detailed guide reports, gear and tackle, and how to use them to catch more and bigger fish. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, this episode is packed full of information from beginning to end. This is Angling Buzz brought to you by Omnia Fishing, a smarter way to shop for fishing tackle.

Well, it's finally that time of year. Minnesota Fishing Opener is here, and it lands on May 13th. Looking at the fishing reports from surrounding states like Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, the fishing has been excellent. Walleye anglers are catching a lot of fish, not only from a boat but also from shore. This episode is all about how to find and catch springtime walleye. Generally speaking, walleye are pretty much done spawning. They prefer to spawn in and around rivers and creeks and prefer flat bottom, kind of rubble rock areas with current. Also, water temperatures in that 42 to 50-degree range in the spring.

Today's show is joined by walleye guru, Al Linde. So, Al, what can you share with us about springtime walleye?

At this time of the year, I love fishing walleye. That means there's a lot of fish in shallow water, sometimes in a very confined area. By shallow water, I'm talking about 10 feet of water or less with 4 to 8 feet being pretty consistent on most of the lakes that I fish most of the time. Now when you're looking at these flatter areas, the kind of location you want is a lot of gravel, some mixed weeds, scattered rocks. It's important to remember that perch and shiners spawn right after the walleye spawn. So, it's a natural built-in forage base loom. They know where the goodies are at. That's why they're there. Side imagery is really critical. With your side imaging unit, you can get on any flats and find big concentrations of fish. When you get in an area where these fish are doing a lot of roaming but are in a given area, they're fairly active. They're moving in and around. You find an area with a lot of fish, drop your trolling mode and go to work.

Yeah, I fish a lot with you for walleye in early spring. In a lot of angles, they do like to drift and drag, but I know you cast a lot and nightcrawlers work well.

Well, mainly we're fishing a lot of clear water lakes, and the fish are shallow, spooky, and moving away from you. As you start approaching them, you can see they know you're there. You can't get real close to the fish. Most of the bites will come on the first half of your cast, about halfway back. Then I just reel in and make another cast. Remember, these fish are roaming in an area, but you've got to have your bait away from you, not get too close to them; they just won't bite.

How about baits and presentations?

I'll start with an artificial. It's going to be a jig naturally with a soft bait on it. I'll have a couple of rods with different baits. A big bite bait, suicide shed on one, and a big bite bait slim middle on another, on an eighth-ounce head and a quarter-ounce head to feel out the mood of the fish, how aggressive they are. Another jig that's one of my all-time favorites, including cold water, is the VMC moon tail jig. This hair jig can be a killer this time of the year. When the fish are around this thing, there's no faster way to put them in the boat. Live bait works particularly well early in the season on a lot of good walleye lakes. A shiner around a jig can absolutely be deadly.

Okay, and how about crankbaits and rattlebaits?

Troll and shad wraps can be a killer, and jigging ripping wraps can be a killer, especially on certain bodies of water, like those that drain into and out of the Great Lakes.

How about when it comes to just the movement of walleye?

Just remember, keep an open mind. The fish are moving a lot, here today, gone tomorrow. You've got to keep up your game. You can catch them one afternoon and catch a whole bunch of fish. Go back the next day, and there's not a fish to be seen on your electronics. They're constantly moving this time of the year, and you have to do the same thing to stay on a bite.

Well, thank you for your time and sharing valuable insights into springtime walleye. Next is our timely topics feature, starting with Sam Sobbe, who has four simple approaches for springtime walleye.


It's intimidating. Walleye fishing is intimidating. I grew up as a bass angler, and I'm still a bass angler, but my whole life, I wanted to catch more walleye. So, over the past couple of years, I've been hanging out and fishing with buddies like Hayes Baldwin and a variety of other folks. They've been teaching me more and more about walleye fishing. What I've really come to realize is don't be intimidated. Just use a few simple approaches. Put your head down, make lots of casts, and you'll be surprised that walleye fishing is not that tough. Let me show you the four approaches that I found the most successful.

Number one, a rip and wrap. Especially early in the year, a rip and wrap crushes. This color is bad lipstick right now. We're out at Green Bay, and we're really putting on a clinic with a rip and wrap.

Number two, a moon tail, a bucktail jig. These are freaking money. If you're not sure what size to buy, go up 3A so you can't go wrong. Deadly.

Number three, just a moon eye jig. A jig and a minnow is so elementary, and it works. Buy some fatheads, bring them on the back of this moon eye jig. Pitch it out there, slowly pop it back. It works everywhere.

Last but not least, probably my favorite. It's a number five shad wrap. You can go up to number six in a variety of other sizes depending on the water you're fishing, but a number five shad wrap is so deadly. So yeah, those are four approaches. Give them a shot. If you're intimidated to walleye fish, don't be. Check those out and catch some walleye.

Next, we're heading over to North Dakota with Johnny Candle. He's going to share his thoughts on springtime walleye, and these techniques really can be applied anywhere.

I've been guiding full-time on Devil's Lake now for 22 seasons. This will actually be my 23rd this year. And what a great place. During a long tournament career, it was one of the most incredible lakes that you could take batting practice on, for lack of a better word because you can fish any technique you want here and catch them. Pitching jigs and crankbaits like today, live bait rigging in the summer, trolling crankbaits and lead-core bottom balancers, it all works. So it's been a great lake to live on to keep your skills sharp.

But the other part that's unique about Devil's Lake is it's like fishing a brand new body of water every year. It's never the same two years in a row. This year, perfect case in point, it's up four feet from a year ago. Four feet of water is a really big deal. The lake just went from 120,000 acres of water to 160,000 acres of water by coming up four feet. It's a lot more water to look at. Fish use different structure, different depths, water warms up quicker, stays warmer longer or not quite as long. All just so many things to think about. And I truly love that challenge of fishing a new lake every season. You might think I'm half loopy doing what we're doing, right? We're in a flooded duck marsh in about six feet of water casting up into two or three feet, targeting walleye. But it's that time of year where it's all about water temperature. We've got 58 degrees, and it's steadily climbing up. The whole food chain is starting in the shallow, flooded marshy area. Warm water brings insects and larva, which brings minnows, smaller fish, larger game fish. And they all want to eat the same food. So we had a white bass already, now a walleye. And when we hit that right spot where the water color is right, the water temperature is right, and the fish are there, it's going to be gangbusters. So this time of year, the fishing isn't rocket science. I hate to use a cliche like that, but I guess I just did. Some of the walleye are hitting right on the bank. Most of them about halfway back. And it's not a slow, steady retrieve, and it's not a real aggressive retrieve, but a series of lifts and drops, let that jig fall till it hits the bottom, lift it up kind of slow, let it fall till it hits the bottom. I'm going to say eight out of ten bites every day. They're going to catch it on the drop. Pretty straightforward. Nothing too fancy.

Oh, yeah, buddy. That's what Devil's Lake's all about right there, my friend. That's a beautiful fish. It goes great with a near limit of eaters in there, so we got a meal. We got some white bass, we got some northern pike. We saw everything there is to see. You got everything you want on a fishing trip. You said you got some nice eaters, cap it off with a couple of really nice fish. It's been an amazing day, but when do you come to Devil's Lake and not have a good day? You're absolutely right. What a great time. Let's get that big girl back, and man, I can't think of a better way to end it here.

Hey folks, Johnny Candle coming to you from the shores of Devil's Lake, North Dakota. As you can tell by looking over my shoulder from my backyard, it's going to be a little bit before we get a boat in the water. But don't fear, the walleye and pike are biting. If you can find any open water where there's current, a bridge, any of the coolies, any of the runoff and drainages coming into Devil's Lake, the bite is absolutely on fire. I've had several friends out taking advantage of this the last couple of days. It's really simple this time of year. Grab a six and a half, seven-foot spinning rod, put some 10 or 15-pound super line on it. On the business end, put a fluorocarbon leader, a quarter-ounce jig and a white swimbait like this frozen limmer right here. That's all you're going to need. Get out there, have a good time. The season's open. The water is opening. We're going to be firing up here shortly. Come on over and visit us. Take care. Have a great week.

Thanks, Johnny. Now let's head over to Minnesota and join Billy Rosner on Lake Vermilion.

The late ISO up here on Vermilion, I expect the walleye to be shallow. Focus on your areas. We've got a river coming in, river going out. You've got a bunch of creeks also coming in and out of Vermilion. Focus on those areas up and down, no shorelines, anywhere from 48 feet, maybe that next break out. And don't forget the deepwater bite out of Vermilion too. It's kind of a unique deal. A lot of those smaller eating-sized males will stack up in those troughs and holes, some of your deeper breaks in 24 to 35 feet of water. Just kind of working it with those cast covers or Northland baitfish spinner topper, something that's got a little flash and vibration to it.

Absolutely love this time of year. And when you can catch fish, what's not to love? It's not like getting a Christmas present early. Hope you have a chance to get up on Lake Vermilion and experience the same thing. Happy fishing. Thanks, Billy.

Now let's head to Brad Hawthorne with our Buzz Bite Report.

You know, it's that time of year where things are going to be hopping. The fishing's going to be great, so you might want to start hitting up some of your favorite local retailers or checking them out online because they're going to have some of the latest and greatest gear that's going to be hitting the water in a few weeks. So, you know, it's going to be a great time. Get ready to get out there and do some fishing.

Thanks, Brad. And if you're looking for the latest and greatest fishing gear, be sure to check out omniafishing.com. They have a fantastic selection of tackle and gear, and their hyper-personalized recommendations can help you find the right gear for your next fishing trip.

And finally, here's Jeremy Smith with some valuable fishing tips.

Today we're on a body of water that we fish in the springtime quite a bit. It's got some river influences. It's got a lot of windblown points, and we love throwing crankbaits in the spring. It's something we've done for a long time. There's a lot of different reasons for it. It can be really effective, and we're going to break down a few of the things that we like to do when we're out throwing crankbaits in the spring.

You know, the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to look at some map data. I want to see if there's any river influences. I want to see if there's any windblown points, and there's a couple of different reasons for that. If you've got river influence and water comes in from the river, it's going to be warmer. It's going to be muddier. Those fish will move up there early. If you've got windblown points, that's a place that can really concentrate fish, especially if the wind's been blowing a long time, and that's something that we like to look for, something we like to try to target. We want to be on those points because if the wind's blowing, it can really position those fish on those points, and that's something we want to try to target when we're out throwing crankbaits.

So once we've found those areas, we're going to be looking for windblown points or river influences. What we're going to do is we're going to break down the water in a few different areas, and we're going to start with the deep water and work our way up. We're going to be running a lot of crankbaits in the springtime, so we want to make sure that we're getting those crankbaits down to the bottom. I like to use a medium action rod. I like to use a fast reel, something with a 6-3 to 1 gear ratio, and that's going to allow me to get that crankbait down to the bottom and really work it down there. That's something that's important when you're throwing crankbaits in the spring.

So once I've found those areas, I'm going to start by making a long cast, and I'm going to reel that crankbait down to the bottom. I want to make sure that I'm contacting the bottom, and I'm going to work it nice and slow. I want to make sure that I'm really working that crankbait down there. That's going to be important. I don't want to go too fast. I want to make sure that I'm in contact with the bottom, and that's going to allow me to feel when those fish hit.

You know, one of the things that we like to do when we're throwing crankbaits in the spring is make sure that we're changing our colors. We're going to start with a natural color. We're going to start with something like a shad pattern or a perch pattern, something that's natural, something that's going to blend in with the forage base. But if we're not getting bit, we're going to switch it up. We're going to switch up colors. We're going to switch up sizes. We're going to switch up depths. We want to make sure that we're throwing a variety of different baits to really dial in what those fish want.

You know, crankbaiting in the spring can be a lot of fun. It can be really effective. It can be a great way to catch a lot of fish. So when you're out there, make sure you're looking for those river influences. Make sure you're looking for windblown points, and make sure you're making long casts and working that crankbait down to the bottom. That's going to be a great way to catch a lot of fish. So get out there and give it a try.

Thanks, Jeremy. That's all for today's episode of Angling Buzz. If you want to see more videos like this, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover, feel free to drop us a comment. We'll see you next time on Angling Buzz.

I hope you find this transcript helpful for your fishing endeavors. If you have any more questions or need further information, feel free to ask. Happy fishing!