By USA Guest Columnist Jason Pzrekurat
If you are like me, fishing river systems and frozen lakes have run their course. I’m ready to get out on the main lake and run my boat. Late May is the time of the year when anglers head out on these main lakes and cash in on post-spawn walleye. The key ingredient to any success after the spawn is water temperature.
Typically the first week after spawn is the slowest. Walleye are busy putting the weight back on and regaining the strength lost during spawn. Think of it this way: spawning would be equivalent to you or me running a marathon. It is a grueling process and puts a lot of stress on our bodies. It would take at least a week for us to recuperate, and after that any food would be inviting.
Once the water temperature reaches 50 degrees or higher, I am on the lake. Walleye search the warmer waters for food and will hang there until the rest of the lake warms. I begin by dividing the lake into thirds. The top third is where I will focus my attention. This is usually the north end of the lake, which is warmed quicker than the other two sections. Plus, the north end normally contains feeder creeks that provide a rush of warmer waters.
New vegetation growth will also take place on the warmer part of the lake, giving walleye a perfect place to ambush baitfish. Using your electronics will prove helpful when trying to find shallow rock and new vegetative growth. Rock near the newly developed vegetation is a dynamite spot to focus your attention. On sunny days, rocks are the fastest warming surface under water, which is a sure draw for hungry walleye.
I like to fish as shallow as possible – eight feet or less. The warming effect of a lake begins on the surface and works its way down. Therefore, walleye will gradually work their way down the water column as the water warms. Many anglers work these areas with a shallow running crankbait, but I like to change things up and throw a jig.
May is the perfect time to tie on 3/8-ounce jig tipped with a 4-inch Gulp! Alive! Minnow. The minnows are durable and leave a scent trail that walleye can locate. I fish jigs during post spawn like I do a crankbait: cast it toward the target and let it fall before retrieving. This technique will allow you to cover more water in the least amount of time. If nothing hits in that area, I will retrieve the bait and throw to another spot down the vegetation edge. Usually by then I’ve covered the area where I think a walleye are going to be and I will move on to warmer waters.
Most anglers will fish jigs slower, because that is how we were taught to fish the jig. Walleye are actively searching for food and fishing the jig more quickly serves two purposes: it will produce more reactionary bites, and you can cover more water in a small amount of time.
When selecting equipment don’t forget to keep it simple. I always spool my reels with 10-pound Berkley FireLine. This line is a very low-stretch line, allowing the angler to have a very positive hook set. It also has the durability that walleye anglers need when targeting edges with rock. Dragging line across rough rock takes its toll, and the last thing you want to do is re-spool line when the bite is just picking up.
Most anglers want more backbone when choosing a rod. But a 6-foot, 6-inch medium-light rod paired with the FireLine is a perfect match. The low-stretch characteristic of Fireline could break a stiffer rod when ripping up the walleye.
Getting off the ice is a welcomed sign to all anglers, and keeping a constant eye on water temperatures will be your key ingredient to success on natural lakes.