Catching Post-Spawn Walleyes

The Problem: Post-Spawn


–Cold Water

–Lethargic Fish

–Scattered Fish

Much has been said about the recuperation period following the spawn, but I’ve never had a problem catching fish, big fish, during the post-spawn.

Finding them is half the battle.

Males hang around the spawning area, providing a good bite for small fish. But the big females head right out, most often for their summer ranges.

On big lakes, that can mean open water or mid-lake flats. On small, natural lakes, the fish may disperse along deep breaklines or duck into emerging weeds. Either way, food is key. Despite rumors to the contrary, the fish still eat.

They may hold on spots along the way, too — such as drop-offs or humps. Use your sonar to scope out potential rest stops.

When you locate fish, troll a subtle-action stickbait. Not a big one, maybe a 5-1/2-inch Rogue, or if that’s too much, a 3-1/2-inch Bomber 14A. Put a Snap Weight 6 to 7 feet ahead of the lure to keep it tight to bottom and go slow, say 3/4 to 1/2 mph.

In rivers, walleyes typically spawn along rocky shorelines with some current, often below a dam. During the post-spawn, try the first hole downstream.

Again, subtle-action cranks get the nod. Fish them 6 feet to 7 feet back on a three-way rig, with either a bell or pencil sinker (2 ounces or 3 ounces) depending on current and depth. Weight style can be critical. Pencil sinkers are good in snaggy water, and they glide along bottom, providing smooth action. Bell sinkers bounce, adding erratic action.

Droppers of a foot or less keep the bait close to bottom and under control. I use mono lighter than the main line, so I don’t lose the crank when a sinker snags.

The goal is to cover as much water as possible. With two guys, I typically use four rods. Run two 8-footers with, say, 2 ounces of weight, in the rod holders, while you and your buddy each hold a shorter rod with a bit heavier weight. The larger sinkers will keep your lures closer to the boat so they don’t tangle with the others.

Troll upriver, barely fast enough to make forward progress. When you get a strike, quickly note an object on shore or mark the location with GPS so you can return to it.

If you work through a hole and pick up a few walleyes, drop the boat slowly downriver, and then work up again. The cranks will keep working while you go, and the current should keep them from fouling.

If the hole is wide enough, slip back and forth in place, covering the width of the river while the current works your baits. It won’t work in narrow holes, but it’s deadly on wider breaklines.

Post-Spawn Pattern

For post-spawn walleyes in rivers, LaCourse targets bottom-hugging fish in the first deep hole below the spawning area. He fishes a subtle-action stickbait on a three-way rig; up to 4 ounces of dropper weight keep the line at a 45-degree angle or less. Troll slowly upriver, then slip back downstream and work the hole again.

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