For many anglers, fishing for walleyes often means bringing out their fishing boats and a trolling motor, which means that casting for walleyes in small rivers is often overlooked. However, this shouldn’t be the case since river walleye fishing can be just as productive and equally (if not more) fun. It won’t be easy of course, but with a little know-how and patience, you’ll soon start to feel those small walleye taking a bite at the end of your fishing line. If you’re planning to embark on such a fishing adventure, then here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind.
One of the first things you need to consider is the condition of the water. This means that you have to take into account the river’s depth, current, and the water’s clarity. All of these (along with some others) are major factors that affect the distribution and concentrations of walleye.
Water levels play a role in where walleyes will be hiding as this will affect where the baitfish are. For instance, high water levels are often home to plenty of baitfish, meaning that this will be an attractive hunting ground for walleyes (and consequently, for you).
Walleyes in general prefer still waters and will try to avoid having to fight against fast-moving water. That said, when fishing for walleyes, you’ll want to find fishing spots that have still or slack water. In rivers with raging currents, you’ll want to look for walleyes behind large boulders where the water is slow-moving as they tend to find refuge in such places.
Water clarity, and consequently the amounts of light that enters the water, will affect where the walleyes will be holding.
When the water is murky or cloudy such as what happens after a strong rain or a run-off from snow melts, walleyes will most likely be held in the shallow parts of the river. On the other hand, when the water is clear, the walleyes will start moving towards the deeper parts of the water. However, even then the walleyes will remain near the shallows, especially at night time.
Aside from studying the river and water conditions, it also helps to know where walleyes are most likely to be hiding. As mentioned earlier, when fishing for walleyes in raging rivers, you’ll want to stick to weak eddies since they love hiding in still or slack waters. Aside from that though, you’ll want to look for them along shallow waters when they are actively feeding. On the other hand, when walleyes are resting, you’ll most likely find them down in the water basin.
The mouth of feeder streams can also be a nice place to look for walleyes especially after heavy rain. This is because after a rain feeder streams become a pathway for fresh water and food to enter the river, and walleyes will see this as a good opportunity to feed.
Tools and Techniques
There are plenty of different baits and lures for walleyes that you can use, though many experts have found that jigs often work better. When fishing with jigs, it is recommended that you cast your jig upstream and allow it to float downstream. In many cases, walleyes will be waiting there and take the bait thinking that it is just another wounded bug or minnow ready for the taking. This works well if you’re casting in shallow water with depth, too. You’ll want to keep the tip of your spinning rod pointed at the water’s surface while fishing. This will help you to detect softer strikes on the bait. If you’re looking for walleyes in eddies and the water isn’t swirling too fast, you’ll want to use a slip-boober with a minnow. Rig it so that the minnow is just above the bottom.
Roundhead jigs work well in most situations, though bladed jigs add flash and extra vibrations that attract walleyes. If you’re using worms, try combining it with a floating jig head for better results. In any case, you’ll want to have other types of lures and jigs in your tackle box or fishing backpack so you can adjust accordingly to changing conditions.
Tips for Waders
Wading is a popular way of catching walleyes in small and shallow rivers, and if you intend to fish for walleyes this way, then you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.
For one, you’ll want to choose a fishing wader that matches the color of the water you’ll be fishing in. This may not always be possible unless you buy different waders of varying colors, so you’ll just want to stick to waders with basic and natural colors.
Second, you’ll want to scout the area and find a good spot for fishing. Choose your spot carefully because you will need to stay there for quite some time and remain very still. Having a fishing hat and a good pair of fishing sunglasses can help fight off the sun and the glare. Once you find an ideal spot, fan cast the area completely before moving on. By keeping still and moving slowly, you’ll avoid spooking the walleyes into hiding.
This technique has worked for many wading anglers, and if you do it correctly it will certainly work for you, too. In fact, many wading anglers claim that if you are still enough, walleyes will be coming right at you and taking the bait right at your feet.
Globo Surf Overview
Small rivers can provide a lot of action for those who are looking to go river walleye fishing, but like fishing for trout, bass, or any other species of fish you need to know where to look for them, the best tools to use, and the best techniques to employ. And as can be seen above, fishing for small walleye in rivers need not be difficult. Just remember to be a responsible angler and release tiny walleyes to allow them to grow and procreate. This way, there will be more walleyes for all of us to fish for in the future.