Cold open-water Walleye strategies.

Posted on December 23rd, 2021

Every late fall and early winter I look forward to Walleye open-water fishing from a boat, right up until it freezes.

Cold Water Walleye.
The Original Rapala & the Husky Jerk in the 11cm length work well for catching late season Walleye that venture at night into shallow water to feed.

When conditions are right I either cast shallow-running body-baits for them at night in shallow water like the Original Rapala #11. I have caught limits of eating-size Walleye fishing in water as shallow as 1′ right up until ice forms on the shorelines.

Cold Water Walleye.
The Rapala Tail Dancer #11 is ideal to reach suspended Walleye up to 30′ deep when they are cruising over deep water.

If I’m fishing them during the day I often target larger Walleye that are suspended in open-water only 15-30′ down in water as deep as 140′. That’s when I use in-line planer boards, deep diving lures like the Rapala Tail Dancer #11 and even add clip-on weights up to 2 oz to get the lure down deep. One of the best areas to catch those trophies is non-other then the eastern-end of Lake Ontario.

Cold Water Walleye.
When targeting cold-water Walleye it’s often common to also hook chunky Smallmouth Bass in the same areas in vertical jigging spoons.

My last strategy which I use in winter if there is open water like in the Niagara River and also the eastern-end of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is vertical jigging in water from 15-60′ deep where I know Walleye are concentrating feeding on baitfish.

Cold Water Walleye.
The Luhr Jensen Cast Champ with it darting/flipping action produced while vertical jigging can be deadly on cold-water Walleye.

My favorite lures include the Cast Champ, Swedish Pimple and Crippled Herring. All these are fished right on the bottom lifting them up about 2′ and letting them free-fall much like the jigging technique used through the ice. Walleye will usually strike the spoon on the drop or just before jigging it up.

Make sure to check the fishing videos on our Italo Labignan YouTube channel and if you have any questions just email them to me at Ask Italo throughout our www.canadian-sportfishing.com website.

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