The very first walleye fishing technique I was exposed to was trolling Shad Raps. I don’t recall the exact conditions, but I do know that it was September in Northern Minnesota, it was evening and we were fishing on a break where the water went from about 6 feet to 12 feet in a hurry. The guy that took me out just tied the lure straight on to the line, chucked it back about 50 yards and just started trolling along the break. We caught some pigs. So, naturally, I have always had an affinity for fishing with crankbaits. In fact, I am often too dependent upon this lure and fish it despite the fact that conditions and results are telling me that doing so is hopeless. So use with discretion.
Let’s step back a bit and review a couple of things that I think are important to know:
1. Walleye have very light sensitive eyes….and avoid direct sunlight. You sometimes hear the term “walleye chop”. Fishermen often consider windy days an advantage because the wind produces a chop on the water that cuts down on the amount of sunlight, increasing the chances that walleyes will become active in shallower areas. For this same reason, evening fishing is an absolute prime time to catch walleyes in shallow areas. In low-light conditions walleyes can use their eyesight advantage to catch prey.
2. There are almost always walleyes in shallow areas. On the same lake that you find fishermen catching walleyes deep, you may also find fishermen catching walleyes shallow. Never neglect to look for walleyes in prime shallow areas. This should generally be an area with weed cover that holds baitfish.
3. Walleyes relate to some kind of structure. This is one of the basic tenets of pretty much any kind of fishing. Structure holds baitfish and therefore it holds the larger game fish. Structure means humps, points, weed beds, and even large flats.
During the evening, walleyes often naturally move from deeper water to shallow water to take advantage of their excellent eyesight and prowl for prey. Likely fishing spots include mid-lake flats or other areas that transition from deep to shallow. The tops of these types of structure can be great at night or during windy, overcast days.