What to do During Walleye Opener - Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

What to do During Walleye Opener

The most awaited fishing weekend of the year is just about here. For thousands of northwestern Ontario anglers, that means only one thing… Walleye.

If the weather holds, and the forecast double digit temperatures work their magic, it may not be a bad opening weekend. The walleye have been spawning for a while in the Thunder Bay area, and should be hanging around the river mouths and shallow bays. In some of the more northern reaches of the region, walleye may actually still be in the act, or even warming up to do it. If we are blessed with warm, maybe even sunny weather over the next ten days, we should enjoy a good walleye bite.

As for fishing techniques, I might make a couple of recommendations:
The high water this spring will mean darker conditions and maybe even some mud. Using a rattle jig of some kind will get you more bites. The Rattle Jig looks like a normal jig, but it has a few tiny BB’s inside the head – or in a chamber – which rattle as it is pulled. In stained water, walleye home in on these jigs like nobody’s business. I have seen a few different types of rattle jigs around, including a banana shaped design which also works well in our lakes. Tip the rattle jig with a minnow or scented twister body and you will be in business.

Another jig which works great on the opener is the Northland Lipstick Jig and minnow. My favourite spring colours for this jig include orange,chartreuse and pink. The basic design of the Lipstick jig is a killer, as it presents a minnow in a very appealing way to fish. You can also get the Lipstick jig with double barbed hooks. I wouldn’t recommend this kind of hook for most fishing situations, but they work well on cold water walleye in current. I’ve found that walleye in current tend to spin off the line easier than lake fish and that extra barb can make the difference. If you are jig fishing in current, remember the heavier the jig head is, the more quickly it will fall. It pays to go with a slightly heavier jig head in swift current , but offset the heavier weight slightly by “bulking” the jig. There are several ways to bulk up a jig:

  • My favourite is to put a green or orange Berkely Power Teaser onto the jig hook, and then a medium sized minnow. Walleye like this mouthful.
  • Using large bait on a bare jig also works well. Try three or four inch minnows on a 3/8 oz. jig. If you don’t have large minnows, put two small minnows on the jig.

I would also recommend using a stinger hook on jigs in the spring. Many jig designs now come with stinger’s, and are usually attached somewhere near the head of the jig. Most commercially made stingers are too short for my taste, however. If you have also found this to be a problem, try slipping the stinger loop over the hook and then anchoring it on with a piece of rubber band.
On a Northland Stinger, snip the metal clip, put the mono loop over the hook, and cinch it up .You now have a perfect stinger. Place the small stinger hook in the back of the minnow. You’ll definitely land more short biting fish.

If jigging is not your cup of tea, live bait rigging is the way to go. The old faithful Lindy rig, with a half ounce walking sinker, and a #4 hook, is a standby. By trolling with your bail open and your line pressed against the blank, you feel for a bite. When the walleye takes the bait, you release line. Close the bail, then set the hook. Fish for supper.

Good luck on this opening weekend.
Gord Ellis

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