Improve Your Walleye Catch Ratio on Lady Evelyn Lake

Big walleye in net before release

The reason so many people love walleye fishing is because walleye are a special breed of creature that can be a 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 sometimes even quadrupled my walleye catch ratios.

Walleye are one of the top two dominant predators in any lake 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 almost exclusively nighttime feeders on some lakes. Just not on Lady Evelyn. Don’t think you have to miss sleep in order to catch plenty of walleye on Lady Evelyn. Surprisingly walleye are readily available during daylight hours. I encourage walleye anglers to read carefully on how to adjust their own 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 were feeding during the night. Many of these night feeding walleye are still often available 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 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 hours 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 or the slightest hesitation. In the dark walleye always have the upper hand and they know it. They'll use their advantage with every feeding opportunity.

However, daylight is an entirely different matter. Walleye will no longer have an advantage over perch and other baitfish. Walleye are not stealth feeders hiding around structure and darting out to devour a meal. Most baitfish species are their most active during the day. They have evolved to be faster and more wary during daylight hours. In response the walleye have developed a unique way of feeding.

During the daylight hours a walleye is slightly less sure of his ability to grab a baitfish. Walleye 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 instead it will simply snap at prey with those two razor sharp front canine teeth with the intention to stun it. Next the walleye will just watch to see what happens to the baitfish it just stunned. If the bait begins to fall and flutter to the bottom, the walleye will follow as it drops just 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 trying to stun it.

However it’s important to note, if a walleye snaps at your bait and then you briskly yank the bait away, there is little chance that the walleye will want to waste the energy necessary to chase it down again. 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 a jig and worm through a productive area on a moderately windy day. You are using 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 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. The tap-tap-taps are NOT walleye! Walleye will strike hard and release. Train yourself not to set the hook on these bait stealers!

Drop back method worked for the lady catching a large walleye.

Special Note: With this tactic the first rule is NEVER "set the hook" on a tap. I need to warn you that until you can train your mind to stop "setting the hook" it will be a natural instinct and you are going to do it and you are also 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 whenever you are walleye fishing! I'll explain why this is true soon.

Fenwick Art

If the bite is a perch or bluegill and you do set the hook, 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 nothing. That single tap was the walleye “stunning” his intended meal. Just after this tap the walleye wants and expects to see the injured bait flutter towards the bottom. The walleye follows it and watches it as it falls to 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 that would now be the time to set the hook. If you want to increase your catch ratio please don’t 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. Only when the walleye has finally accidently hooked and you will feel the additional weight slowly pulling more steadily on your line is it time to start reeling. Now 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.

Your next question might be why am I not setting the hook? The key reason is because if you set the hook you will be pulling the bait out of the small range that a walleye is willing to expend enough energy chase it down. I call this 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 substantially beyond your expectations.

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