Physical Feature of Walleyes
There two important physical features of walleyes that make it a lot better to fish them at night. These features all have to do with their eyes.
First, walleyes are negatively phototactic, which is very different from humans. While humans are positively phototactic, walleyes are negatively phototactic, which allows them to see better at night than during the day. Again, most walleye prey such as yellow perch and suckers have a lot of difficulties seeing at night. This simply makes it a lot easier for the walleyes to find them and that’s why they (walleyes) generally pursue and feed on their prey at night.
Although they have large eyes and brilliant night vision, these eyes are very light sensitive and that’s why they don’t like too much brightness. That being said, they feel more at home at night and will use their excellent night vision to attack prey that has reduced visibility in darkness.
Secondly, you’ve probably noticed that the eyes of a walleye are located on the top half of the head and can aim both upwards and forward. This is of great advantage to the walleyes as they can attack the unsuspecting prey from the bottom-rear. As such, you’ll only be successful if you place your lures just above the walleyes.
Where to Find the Walleyes – Go Shallow
A good rule thumb of catching walleyes, or any fish species for that matter, is to know how to find them. Walleyes generally move in deep, cooler waters during the day when the water temperature rises. In most cases, they’ll become lethargic and most probably not feed.
But as the sun goes down and the water temperatures drop, the walleyes will become active and will move to shallow waters in search of food. As such, the best place to fish for walleyes at night is on shallow waters. You’ll find them just around 6 or 7 feet of water although you can go a little deeper but not more than 15 feet.
You can consider exploring mouths of flowing tributaries, shallow humps, near the mouth of a big bay, as well as flats that are adjacent to deeper water. You can also target structures with vegetation and spots with plenty of rocks.
It’s very easy to scare away fish and this is something that you don’t want when out there on the water. The same applies when it comes to catching walleyes at night. Given that walleyes will spend most of their feeding time on the shallows, being noisy or using lots of light may scare them away. In other words, you shouldn’t do anything that may alert the walleyes of your presence and this means that you have to remain stealth.
Whether you have to creep to the location or avoid using your flashlights, it’s of great importance to keep the noise as low as possible.
The Right Baits
Although live bait will work best when fishing for walleyes, the best bait to use when night fishing for walleyes is crankbaits. Walleyes are generally very fast and will always be active and on the move looking for their next meal. For this reason, the best strategy is to use something that allows you to cover a huge part of the water in a very short time. This is exactly what crankbaits give you as you’ll locate fish more quickly by casting or trolling your crankbaits.
You can also use jigs as long as you properly tip them with minnows. This is because vertical jigging is very effective for night fishing for walleyes as they’ll hang just a few feet above the walleye’s head.
When it comes to bait colors, you can go with dark colors since walleyes can see them even at night thanks to their excellent night vision. However, the best choices are bright colors that the walleyes will see better and easily. Just make sure that the bait looks like real walleye prey.
Presenting the Lures
Keep in mind that walleyes usually attack their prey from the rear-bottom or from below. This is principally why you should present your lures at about three or four feet deep so that walleyes can be tempted to attack. It’s, therefore, important to keep your lures at the mid-level for best outcomes.
Needless to say, night fishing for walleyes means that you’ll be out there on the water at night and this means that you have to take precaution. While the cover of darkness adds more challenges and hazards, the best way to deal with these challenges is to arrive when there’s still light. This is to give you ample time to prepare your lures and fishing gear, choose your fishing spot, look around for potential hazards, and make sure that everything is in order. Again, it’s more likely that it will get colder at night so you should dress for the weather. Bring your fishing gloves, warm layers, a warm hat, warm clothing, and pack light.
Although most anglers do not prefer fishing at night, it’s probably the best way to go if you’ve been targeting the elusive walleyes. You’ll not only enjoy a fun and unique fishing experience, but you’ll most likely land a large mysterious walleye. In essence, fishing for walleyes at night will be much better than you’ll ever see all day long. Just make sure you stay safe, get your fishing gear on, and catch them walleyes.