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By Norb Wallock
If you develop an itch to get in some early season walleye action, you can scratch it by looking for a warmer climate and taking a due south heading. There are plenty of opportunities for open water walleye angling spread throughout the south, and includes states like Arkansas, Missouri, and even Kentucky. While the South and good walleye fishing isn’t exactly synonymous, it is possible, especially if you know a little about the when, where, and how.
The big, deep, southern reservoirs like Cumberland in Kentucky, Lake
Norfork in Arkansas, and Lake Stockton in Missouri, are just a few of the
bodies of water that have fishable numbers of walleyes. Fishable numbers
means that there’s enough walleyes present to make it worth your while
to pursue. Without the numbers you can feel like your looking for a needle
in a haystack, which can be a little frustrating. Although the bodes of
water mentioned aren’t exactly brimming with huge numbers of ol’ marble
eyes, there are enough of them that good catches can still be made. Success
is accomplished by keying on peak
One of the season’s peaks occurs around the spawning cycle, and is created when walleyes that are normally spread out, pack into small, easily identified areas. Even though the spawning season is not usually associated with good walleye fishing, it’s one of your best bets for finding heavier concentrations of fish. Southern walleyes behave like they do anywhere else, and the spawning season is no different. Classic movements include upstream migrations that lead walleyes up incoming rivers, as well as to the back ends of arms with feeder creeks. Once the actual spawning has taken place, walleyes can be expected to hang around for several weeks or more, before slowly filtering back into the main lake. They’ll hang around because that’s where most of the baitfish can be found, seeking out the warmer temps that shallow water can provide.
Warmer water temperatures is a draw for many species of fish, including
walleyes, bass, stripers and crappies. In fact, walleyes may be the minority,
but don’t let that bother you. Catching bass, stripers, and giant crappies
can provide plenty of action, and fun, and will help keep you entertained
during your search for southern gold.
Because of so many other species that might be available, solely relying
on your electronics to find walleyes becomes an impossibility. While they
can help determine the presence of bait and predators, they can’t determine
the species. The only way to know for sure is to put a fish or two in the
boat, and is when
A spinner and live bait combination, behind a bottom bouncer, will allow you to cover some water, and give the bait a small amount of speed. Early season, post spawn walleyes can be caught; It’s simply a matter of keeping a solid presentation in the right place. The back ends of creek arms can be loaded with debris, including trees, brush, rocks and shale, all of which will give you fits, if you’re not prepared. Getting a bouncer and spinner through that kind of stuff can be tough to say the least, but is possible with a few adjustments.
One of the first adjustments to make, is to shorten up your snell length,
and keep it to a couple of feet or less. That will help to keep your spinner
off the bottom, and out of the snags. Another technique is to replace the
standard two or three hook spinner harness with a single hook model, like
the Wired Spinner
Pitching jigs to shallow brush or vegetation is another option, and may be a good choice if you feel spooking may be a factor. Spooking can become a real problem if you’re working shallow water, especially if it’s relatively clear.
Although walleyes are often thought of as being most active early in the morning and late in the day, it’s not always so, especially early in the season. In fact, activity will often increase as the sun gets higher and the shallows start to warm. It can also bring walleyes into extremely shallow water, like a few feet or less. It’s a factor to be aware off, and a solid game plan will always include a good amount of shallow water.
An early season southern run may be just the ticket to get a jump on
the upcoming season. Sure, there may be open water walleyes closer to home,
but the ability to shed a few layers of clothes and fish in a light jacket,
or even short sleeves, can be well worth the trip. The combination of a
warmer climate and
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