Icing Walleyes in a Neutral Mood

Category: article

 Jan 8th, 2022 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Jan 8th, 2022 at 1:32 PM

Icing Walleyes in a Neutral Mood

Have you ever heard someone say, “Yesterday we couldn’t keep them off of the hook. I wonder what happened?” There are a lot of things that could have happened that changed the bite and caused walleyes to go into a neutral mood. Regardless the reason the walleyes decided eating isn’t on the top of their list on any given day, there are some things an ice angler can do to get neutral mood walleyes to eat.

Why do walleyes get into a neutral mood? When it is all said and done, only Mother Nature truly knows. One phenomenon that happens often that changes the bite is changing weather, even if it’s Lake of the Woods. One of the weather patterns that has known to make the bite shut down is an approaching cold front.

Another reason we believe walleyes get into a neutral mood is quick temperature changes, either warmer or colder.

It is also believed walleyes don’t eat every day, especially during the winter when their metabolism slows down vs warm water periods. If they are full, sometimes your offering just wont entice them as they are in that neutral mood.

Another tough time to turn walleyes is when there is just too much bait around. The thought is having a buffet non-stop takes the urgency away and creates a neutral mood.

It all sounds like doom and gloom for an ice angler looking to catch walleyes. No worries! There are things you can do to still be productive and catch more fish when walleyes are in a neutral mood.

1. Downsize. When walleyes and saugers are in more of a neutral mood due to weather changes like a cold front, downsizing your baits can often get more fish to take your offering. Whether it is your jigging line or your deadstick (a live minnow under a bobber stationary), go smaller. That might mean a smaller jigging spoon, tipping the spoon with a very small piece of minnow or maybe even a wax worm or euro larvae. For the deadstick, maybe you go to the smallest minnow in the minnow bucket vs the larger minnows or even use a dead minnow.

2. Get the reaction strike. On a recent ice fishing outing, this exact scenario of a cold front played out. After jigging with a spoon tipped with a minnow head, I switched my jigging line to a Rapala Rippin Rap. This certainly could have been another noisy or flashy lure but I have gained confidence in the Rippin Rap over the past couple of years and I have a hard time switching. The point of using a more aggressive lure and presentation is it not only draws fish in due to the flash, action and noise, but it creates some reaction strikes. Reaction strikes are often just what it says, a fish reacting by striking or eating the lure when otherwise they weren’t at all in the feeding mood. This more aggressive offering saved the day with a handful of bonus fish.

3. Slow down. Just as the suggestion above says to speed things up to get a reaction, another technique is to slow things down. Smaller jigging actions. Letting the lure sit in the strike zone longer rather than moving it around. Laying it on the bottom and slowly lifting it up. In some cases, switch from a lively minnow to a dead minnow on your dead stick. Even a frozen shiner for the additional scent.

When walleyes get into a “funk” or a neutral mood, no worries, there are things you can definitely do to still make it a good day on the ice. Time to implement your special “neutral mood walleye” techniques to implement to catch more fish. Try downsizing, getting the reaction strike and slowing down, all of which can put more walleyes and saugers into your bucket!


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