For some folks, there’s nothing more spooky than spotting a pair of eyes glaring out of the darkness. While under some circumstances, this can be unnerving, when it comes to fishing, the opposite is true. You see, when fishermen talk of ‘eyes, they mean Walleyes.
This largest member of the yellow perch family is also known as Walleye Pike, or Pike Perch. Whatever you call it, this tasty predator has many things going for it.
They are adaptable, calling rivers, reservoirs, bays and lakes their home. The Walleye can also prowl successfully around weeds, gravel, wood, or even suspend in open water. Spinners, jigs, crankbaits and various live bait rigs all take their share of fish. However, for the biggest ‘eyes in your favorite body of water, what or where you fish may not be as important as WHEN.
Unlike many fish, Walleye have a special membrane in their eyes that lets them see well in low light conditions. When forage fish begin to lose their ability to navigate due to poor light conditions, big ‘eyes begin to turn on.
New moon and full moon are the best times, with the three days prior to, and after, also quite good. Best case scenario would be three days of stable weather and plenty of boat traffic during the day. Hog Walleye will simply wait out the day’s activities and feed at night; it’s that simple.
In open waters, such as rivers and lakes, stickbaits such as #13 Rapala or Husky Jerk, trolled slowly (1 or 1.5 mph) will produce. Cover the eyes with some glo-tape, and put a bit on the tail. Natural colors with dark backs and white bellies often work best. Use 10-to-14-pound test fireline or spiderwire on a casting reel with a 3-to-6-foot low stretch mono leader. (Fluro-carbon can also be used.) Impart most of the lure action by pulling your rod back slowly, and then slowly drop it back. Simply putting the rod in rod holders is not only less productive; it’s also about as much fun as watching paint dry.
Keep the rod in your hand and be ready for a slight tap. Big Walleye don’t hit like a big bass or pike; they feed by inhaling the bait. Just move the rod forward with a sweeping motion and you’ll enjoy better hook-ups and less tear offs.
Still fishing with lighted bobbers and live bait can also work well, especially if there is too much floating weeds and debris to drag bait. Fish in excess of 10 pounds can often be caught using these techniques in waters that only yield “eaters” during the day. (3 or 4 lb. fish)
Follow these simple tips, and you too will look forward to finding “eyes in the dark.”