River Walleyes, Fishing the Post Spawn
Apr 23rd, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 AM
It’s amazing how quickly the spring walleye season goes from pre-spawn to post-spawn, but it can happen really fast when a few warm and sunny days cause the fish to dump their eggs and begin their post-spawn migration back down the river. Although some of the rivers in the northern tier states are currently in mid-spawn, the rest are smack dab in the post-spawn period right now.
I like this time of year, because post-spawn spots are numerous and fish are constantly drifting in to these areas, so there are new fish to catch every day. In some systems, these spots can be hot for a month or more as the walleyes drift slowly back down river to their summering areas.
During this period, I will do some shallow fishing along rocky shorelines whether rip-rapped or natural, especially if there is deep water close by. These rocky areas will often holds lots of baitfish right now, and those walleyes are hungry. Pitching hair jig, light jigs tipped with half crawlers or minnows are a great choice, but so is casting shallow running crankbaits like #5 and #7 Shad raps of Flicker Shads at the rocks a slow-cranking them back. Smallies and Largemouth bass are often bonus fish on cranks with this presentation.
Post-spawn walleyes will also scatter or slowly make their way down the current and stage along sandbreaks or straight stretches of river. Trolling cranks will help you to locate these pods of fish, but there’s nothing wrong with drifting and vertical jigging these stretches of river as well.
I will usually fish two rods with power braid and quarter ounce Odd’Ball Jigs tipped with half crawlers and fish them vertical. If the stretch I’m fishing isn’t real snaggy, I will sometimes drag a sixteenth-ounce jig and half-crawler a behind the boat instead of fishing vertical. The fish will tell you what presentation they prefer.
As is often the case with walleyes, river bends, points and current breaks are key starting points and will often stop fish as they migrate downstream, sometimes to rest, but also to feed on minnows. But don’t overlook some of the long, straight stretches of river as mention before.
Of course and barrier in the river is going to hold some post-spawn walleyes, especially bridges, docks and anchored barges. Even large trees in the water will knock down enough current to hold fish, especially in smaller rivers.
Since post-spawn walleyes are more aggressive now than in pre-spawn due to a higher metabolism, I’ll often fish without live bait, using 3 inch Gulp, twister tails or hair jigs made of black marabou or bucktail. Two sleeper baits are two-inch daredevils or abu spinners in black and white colors cranked slowly across, but just above the bottom. Some days walleyes will just smoke these two baits when a live bait presentation isn’t working.
Always keep in mind that male walleyes will generally still be hanging around known spawning areas for a few weeks after the females have left, so be sure to check those shallow gravelly areas, rocks and any other spot where walleyes are likely to spawn.
Fishing post-spawn walleyes can be both challenging as well as fun, as these fish can be just about anywhere in the river and they are constantly on the move. The good news is that you can catch them using multiple presentations and lures while fishing deep, shallow and everywhere in between, because that’s where they’re going to be.