Improve Your Walleye Catch Ratio on Lady Evelyn Lake
The reason so many people love walleye fishing is because walleye are a special breed of creature that can be one heck of a lot of fun to catch, especially on light tackle. For me a large part of the fun is just figuring out their seasonal patterns, pinpointing their locations and discovering their feeding habits. I learned an incredible trait about walleye that has doubled, tripled and even quadrupled my own walleye catch ratios.
Walleye are one of the top two dominant predators in most any lake that they reside. They have learned to hunt in groups and as most anglers already know they have developed eyes that give them a distinct advantage over their prey in low light conditions. Walleye are well known for being nighttime feeders almost exclusively on some lakes. Just not on Lady Evelyn. But don’t think you have to miss sleep in order to catch plenty of walleye. Surprisingly they are also readily available during daylight hours. I encourage walleye anglers to read carefully on how to adjust their tactics to catch more of them in the daylight.
During daylight hours, especially morning and evening hours, walleye tend to remain close to areas that they have fed during the night. Many of these night feeding walleye are still often available to daylight anglers simply because those walleye didn’t fill themselves adequately during their night feeding forays. Maybe it was too light or maybe the barometric pressure wasn’t right but the fact remains they still will need to eat in order to survive.
Give Yourself The Daytime Advantage
So why do they seem so hard to locate and catch during the daylight hours? Here is my secret, walleye feed differently during daylight then they feed in the dark. At night a walleye’s eyes give them a tremendous advantage over baitfish. They will strike and grab their prey without mercy without the slightest hesitation. In the dark they always have the upper hand and they know it and use the advantage with every feeding opportunity.
However, daytime is an entirely different matter. Walleye no longer have an advantage over perch and other baitfish and walleye are not stealth feeders hiding around structure and darting out to devour a meal. Most species of baitfish are their most active during the day and have evolved to be faster and more wary during daylight hours. In response the walleye have developed a unique way of feeding that anglers can learn to improve their catch results.
During the daylight hours a walleye is slightly less sure of his ability to grab a baitfish so it will "strike" at the prey with no intention of eating it. The walleye has learned that it has to conserve the energy expended during the day so it will simply snap at prey with those two razor sharp front canine teeth with the intention to simply stun its prey. Next the walleye will just watch to see what happens to the baitfish. If the bait begins to fall and flutter to the bottom, the walleye will follow it as it drops like a cat playing with a mouse. If the bait settles to the bottom and then begins to move, the walleye will snap at it again and again try to stun it.
However it’s important to note, if a walleye snaps at your bait and then you yank the bait briskly away there is little chance that your the walleye will want to waste the energy necessary to chase it down. That’s because the first rule of nature says that no creature should expend more energy chasing a prey than it will receive in calories from that prey when it catches and eats it.
So let’s put this information into a strategy to catch more fish. Let’s say that you are drifting with your jig and worm through a good area on a moderate wind day. You use a jig that is just heavy enough to get to the bottom in the heavy wind. On light 6# test line an 1/8 oz. jig will stay near the bottom while the boat is drifting at 4 to 5 mph. Occasionally you will might feel a tap-tap-tap of a perch or a bluegill. That’s because these small bait stealers like to grab a worm and just hang on for the ride. You have to train yourself not to set the hook on these bait stealers!
Special Note: With this tactic the first rule is NEVER set the hook. I need to warn you that until you can train your mind to remind you to quit setting the hook it will be a natural instinct, you are going to do it and you are going to lose your bait often. Just keep in mind that if you are using the lightest tackle with the sharpest hooks possible it is never going to be necessary to set the hook when you are walleye fishing! I'll explain why this is true soon.
If the bite is a perch or bluegill and you do set the hook then you probably just wasted a good worm. If it was a walleye, it will not go tap-tap-tap. During the daylight hours when it is a walleye all you will feel is a quick and more solid single tap and then often times nothing. That single tap was the walleye “stunning” your bait (his prey). Just after this tap the walleye expects to see your bait flutter injured towards the bottom. The walleye follows it and watches it as it hits the bottom. The split second you move it again he will snap at it trying again to stun it.
About this time you’re probably thinking now’s the time to set the hook, right? If you want to increase your catch ratio don’t ever set the hook! I hope that you are starting to get a theme here. Especially if you are jig and worm fishing, you will never need to set the hook to catch a walleye. Your jig should always be small enough and sharp enough that it will catch itself in the walleye’s mouth without any need to jerk at it. When the walleye has finally accidently hooked itself you will feel the additional weight slowly pulling more steadily on your line. Instead of dropping the bait to the bottom again you will be able to sweep your rod with a steady motion and begin to head the walleye your way.
The next natural question I am asked most often is why aren’t we setting the hook? The key reason is because if you set the hook you will be pulling the bait out of the range that a walleye is willing to expend enough energy chase it down. I call the method "dropping back to walleye" and I have proven it works to everyone that I have fished with. By learning to drop back every time a walleye "stuns" your bait I guarantee that your catch ratio will increase beyond your expectations.