Monitoring And Catching Ice Walleyes During a ‘Dusky’ Bite

Employ this hard-water strategy with an angling partner during the mid-ice period unfolding right now.

A common question I’ve heard at recent ice angling seminars has focused on targeting walleyes as they transition from deep to shallow water prior to sunset. About 30 minutes before sunset, walleyes usually will move up atop the flats to feed. They may stop at any depth, so where do we begin fishing on the deep side of that flat?

Terry Tuma
Terry Tuma

First, always start your search on obvious transition areas, say a weed edge, where a hard bottom meets sand, or sand meets mud…wherever you have logical transitions.

Finding and catching these fish works great with a partner. Drill holes in deep water and move upward toward where you believe walleyes are moving – deep, then mid-depth, then shallow. Think of this approach as almost like casting, but without any open water!

Then, set up with your fishing buddy, each with one tip-up and each with one line. One guy should start deeper than the other. Tip-ups will begin firing and when then do, land that walleye, but do not reset! Why is that? It’s because it takes too much time! Have one angler work that depth range with his rod, while the deep-water guy moves to that mid-depth area. Focus now on working your hole with the ice rod via jigging spoons, complete with a jig-and-minnow head, a jigging Shad Rap, or vertical jigging spoons.

As the fish move, follow them. You and your partner will likely find yourselves hopscotching each other!

Final tip: The days are short right now, so drill your holes early, no later than about 3 p.m. to let the noise factor settle down. Keep in mind that sunset occurs about 30 minutes earlier under the ice so don’t be starting your drilling at 4 p.m.!

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