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Shore fishing for walleyes in the waters they inhabit is quite popular. These bodies of water are typically rivers, and in the spring, when walleyes spawn, they can draw thousands of anglers to the banks, and the spring run can be an absolute fish-catching frenzy.
Many anglers during this period throw the same presentations and obtain a herd mentality, but there are some great lures that will work for walleye when shore fishing that many anglers might overlook.
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Many walleye anglers overlook soft plastic swimbaits as a tool to catch walleye, but in recent years their popularity has increased, and more and more anglers are seeing the potential that swimbaits have to offer.
The fat swim impact has a ribbed body that was pioneered by Keitech. This ribbed body creates extra vibration in addition to the paddle tail. The vibration feels very natural coming from a rubber bait, and this is a great advantage when used in any water clarity conditions.
You can use the fat swim impact any way you can think of, which makes the lure versatile in a wide range of conditions, jig it, rip it, crawl it on the bottom, straight retrieve it.
There is no wrong way to work this bait.
The flicker shad is a staple for walleye anglers, and many avid walleye anglers have an entire Plano 3700 full of them.
They excel at trolling flats and deep water, or situations where you have to cover a large area of water quickly. They are also great when casting and using a straight retrieve. The tight wobble and profile mimic baitfish-like small shad perfectly.
The flicker shad is a very affordable lure, and it’s also incredibly reliable and durable.
They come in a wide range of colors and designs, including different body shapes and different lip designs for deep water and shallow water fishing applications. Pair it with a walleye spinning reel and you’ll be good to go!
The Pulse R is another soft plastic swimbait, but the entire design of it was dedicated to catching walleye. The ribbing on this swimbait is extreme, and just by looking at it, you can tell that the bulk of the lure is just ribbing.
This ribbed design creates a ton of natural vibration in the water, and it’s something that teases the lateral line of a fish like nothing else.
The paddle tail also has a great design, utilizing a very thin and long tailstock to allow the large paddle to rotate and kick with the slowest of retrieves. It will work at a crawl and will even kick when subtly jigged.
The Pulse R comes in an eight pack, and we recommend the 3.25-inch length as a good length to use year-round.
The Rapala X-rap can be considered both a crankbait and a jerkbait, and it can perform both roles to perfection.
The X-rap comes in many different variations like size, shape, and diving lip varieties to cover a wide range of depths and some truly awesome color patterns that will ensure there is an X-rap for nearly any walleye fishing situation.
These baits work great when casting in rivers or areas with rocky bottoms. Reel it down to the bottom with a straight retrieve and give it a tap, and pauses to make the lure dance and bounce off of rocks and other items on the bottom. This pausing and bouncing technique will surely trigger some walleyes to eat.
When I started using the Gulp Alive minnows by Berkley, the power I witnessed made me replace my live bait, and as a result, I barely use live bait anymore.
The infused scent is deadly, and the materials used to create the Alive minnow are like a sponge. In fact, leave one sit out in the open area for a couple of days and check it out. It will be a tiny shriveled minnow. These things are crazy absorbent and are the reason why they come in liquid scent-filled containers.
Throw these things on a jig like the Northland Tackle Slurp Heads and get ready to feel a solid thump at the end of your line.
Walleye Shore Fishing Tips
Let’s look at where to find walleye and fishing tactics to employ to catch them.
Hit the Structure
Many fish are very structure-oriented and use structure when feeding and living their lives.
Some fish, like muskies that are being raised in fisheries breeding ponds, have been observed lining up in a row along with the only piece of structure present, the aeration pipe that runs along the bottom, when feeding on the baitfish given to them for food.
Walleye are no different when it comes to structure, and you can find them in high numbers around points, rock bars, saddles, and mid-lake humps.
Fishing these areas can be highly effective, and not only are these pieces of structure productive but the deep water adjacent to them might also have large numbers of suspended fish.
In many lakes, walleye will push up onto sand flats to pursue baitfish like small perch or shiners. These areas can be perfect in the spring and fall, as well as year-round in the early morning and evening hours and after dark.
There’s an easy way to know if walleyes are using flats after dark, simply go to your favorite walleye lakes after nightfall and bring a spotlight, shine the spotlight along the flats, you will see the chrome-eyes reflecting back at you, and if its a nighttime hot spot, the water will look like a starry night sky.
If you fish smaller and shallower rivers like me or rivers that you can cast across, deep holes will, in many cases, hold a ton of fish. In a river with an average depth of 4 feet or so, a 12 to 15-foot hole is massive, and if there are walleyes in that river, chances are there will be a ton in these holes.
You can easily position yourself near them or use an anchor and fish live bait along with lure presentations as well to increase your odds.
An important tactic to use for fishing holes is to fish them thoroughly. Don’t just make a few casts and move on. Spend a decent amount of time and try different presentations to see what the fish respond to the best.
Walleyes have literally evolved to feed at night, and the evidence is in the eyes, so you should be fishing for them at night too.
The same lures that you would use during the day can be used at night, and you don’t need to make any serious tackle changes. The important considerations that you need to take for night fishing are to bring the appropriate gear, like a headlamp and flashlights.
Extra care needs to be taken to fish at night in terms of safety as well. Things can go wrong fishing in the dark, you could slip and fall, or some other detrimental accident could occur, so be sure you let people know where you will be in case of an emergency.
Old pier pylons, railroad trestles, wing dams, bridges, shoreline rip rap, and probably the best man-made area to fish, dams, all will hold fish. Dams in the spring when the walleye are running upriver to spawn stop them in their tracks, and they will congregate in large numbers.
You can fish a dam all day and catch fish, then go back at night and catch even more. It’s almost like cheating. The issue with fishing dams at this time of year will be other people.
The banks below a dam during the spring will be lined with fishermen trying to catch walleye and even line across bridges below the dams. I’m not a fan of combat fishing from shore, but if you want to catch walleye, it’s always an option.
Most man-made structures or cover in the water will hold fish of all species, and they will always produce fish.
Fluorocarbon is the best all-around line type to use for walleye, it has low stretch, is stronger and more abrasion resistant than monofilament, and unlike braid, it is virtually invisible to a fishes eyes underwater, making it great for ultra-clear or heavily pressured lakes and rivers.
Fishing for walleye from shore can be very productive. You don’t always need a boat to get to the best fishing spots, especially when fishing river systems.
Use the right lure for the right situation, during key feeding periods, or the right time of year, and you should have no problem catching them.