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How to Ice Fish for Walleye During the Day

Walleye can be one of the most difficult fish to catch them during the day time. That’s because their eyes are very sensitive to light. But is there a way to improve your chances of success when fishing for walleye during the day?

The best way to catch walleye during the day is to fish in cloudy water. If you’re not sure where to go in your local area, try checking out some lake maps, as they will usually indicate the water’s clarity. Once you’ve arrived, it’s merely a matter of strategy. 

If you’re ready to catch some walleye on your next ice fishing trip, we’ve got you covered with all you’ll need to know.

In this article, we’ll outline the most efficient strategies and the best tools to use when fishing for walleye during the day. We’ll also tell you where you can expect to have the most luck finding walleye.

Best Time of Day to Catch Walleye Ice Fishing

walleye day fishing

In truth, you can catch walleye at any hour of the day. It all depends on if you are savvy enough with the equipment you use and where you chose to fish. However, it has long been held that the best time to catch walleye is during the early morning when the sun is coming up or during the evening when the sun is going down.

The reason dusk and dawn are both so good for catching walleye is that these fish have eyes that are extraordinarily sensitive to light. During dawn and dusk, it is still light enough for them to spot your lure, but not so light that it hurts their eyes.

If you carry this logic forward, this means that it’s not so much the time of day that matters as it is the level of visibility in the water. This is why you should visit a lake with dirty or cloudy water if you want to catch them during midday.

Consider that the fundamental starting point for ice fishing walleye during the day.

What’s the Best Way to Catch Walleye Ice Fishing?

Understanding the walleye’s sensitivity to light is just the beginning. Next, you need a solid strategy before you even put your line in the water. This will have a major impact on your success or failure when catching walleye.

The following tips should help your next expedition be as fruitful as possible:

Use the Two-Pole Method

Drill two holes in the ice side by side. In one, you can use a lure or some type of jig to draw in hungry fish that will bite on just about anything. On the other, you can use live bait to entice the more careful keepers. This will effectively double your chances of catching a walleye on any ice fishing trip.

Try Triggering a Bite

Luring in a walleye for a nibble is one thing. Getting them to bite is another. If you’re at all familiar with walleye, you know that they can be some of the most finicky fish in the water. If you have a rattling jig or spoons and you know a walleye is considering your bait, give it a light jerk. The motion and the rattling may be just what you need to entice the walleye into a bite.

Pick the Color of Lures Based on the Clarity of the Water

If you chose to fish for walleye in cloudy water because you want to catch them during the day, you should use brightly colored lures that they can see even in low light. If you’re fishing in clear water during the morning or the evening, you should use lures with more natural colors. Lures that resemble minnows are particularly effective.

Not Getting a Hit? Don’t Be Afraid to Move

Walleye tend not to be foraging during the daytime, so waiting hours for a hit probably isn’t going to get you that far. Therefore, if you’re fishing during the day, you shouldn’t be afraid of moving if you haven’t had a hit in a while.

How Deep Do Walleye Go in the Winter?

One of the most important elements of ice fishing walleye is the depth at which they tend to reside. Knowing this figure will greatly help you develop your fishing strategy.

During the winter, walleye tend to be found anywhere between 20 and 50 ft below the surface. The water is warmer and the dull light in these depths is better suited to the sensitivity of their eyes.

You’ll need to make sure that you are fishing at that depth to have the best chance of catching walleye. At that range, the water is dark enough that light does not affect the walleye’s sensitive eyes. But it is just bright enough that they can see your lure, provided you are using the right one.

Where Can I Find Walleye Ice Fishing?

finding walleye fish ice fishing in winter

Where you’ll find the most walleye depends on whether you’re fishing at the beginning of winter or towards the end.

Late Fall / Early Winter

During early winter and even late fall, when the first ice forms on the water, you’ll find walleye near structures like brush piles.

Generally, much of the baitfish on which they feed spawn near these kinds of structures. The walleye wait deep under the water to feed when the opportunity strikes.

Late Winter / Early Spring

During late winter and even into early spring, it is best to find walleye in areas of warmer water near shorelines where new ones will soon spawn.

Oftentimes these are areas where two bodies of water converge, such as two streams running together.

What is the Best Bait for Ice Fishing Walleye?

While you technically can catch walleye with just about any lure, several specific lures will increase your chances of success.

Generally, you want to avoid lures and jigs with natural coloring in favor of their brightly colored counterparts. This is because you’ll usually be fishing for walleye either in a darker environment or in cloudy water, and the bright colors make your lure more visible.  

Some of the best lures for catching walleye include:

  • Brightly colored swimming lures: Walleye love minnows, so if you can get a lure that mimics their movement, you’re much more likely to attract a keeper. Just remember, if it’s clear water a natural color like silver will work best, and if it’s cloudy water a brightly colored lure will be what you want. 
  • Jigs: Jigs create a frantic upward jerking motion that is ideal for ice fishing. The nice thing about using jigs is that they draw attention to your line very quickly. These are excellent for catching the more finicky fish. 
  • Spoons: The light reflected off of spoons as they jiggle in the water not only imitates the silvery glow of minnows but immediately draws the attention of walleye because of their sensitivity to light. These are best used in clearer water as they are easier for the fish to see.  

If you prefer to use live bait, sticking with minnows will be your best bet. You can increase your chances of being successful with live minnows by combining them with a jig to lure the fish in.

For more on the best walleye ice fishing bait, jigs, and lures check out our Complete Guide to Walleye Ice Fishing Bait, Jigs, & Lures.

As we’ve seen above, ice fishing for walleye during the day is not just possible. It can be quite fruitful as well. Make sure that you are fishing in the right place, using the right equipment, and employing the best methods – you will be sure to catch a keeper!  

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