W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Sam Anderson
Slack Water Walleyes
By Sam Anderson
This is the time of the year that winter river walleyes are in their prime. The walleyes have all moved up to the staging areas right below the dams on the Mississippi and they are in open water. The walleyes like this area because the "hole" below the dam is a resting place and a feeding area. This area is high in oxygen and fish migrate to this area to rest before starting the spawning cycle.
This "hole" below the dam is not just for resting, but also is a major feeding area for those walleyes that have migrated to this area. Their body metabolism is slow, but they still have to eat. Therefore, they simply watch the offerings float by them or be carried downstream via current.
The middle of winter finds most walleye fisherman heading for the river to do some walleye fishing. Especially if the weather has been nice for days and the wind is warm you usually can find some out of the way areas that will hold walleyes.
One of the first places I look for walleyes is along the northern portion or sunny side of the riverbank. This area usually is a little warmer than the area right below the dam and it will attract baitfish sooner and of course hungry walleyes. I like to look for small pockets formed by the riprap that break the current. Look for breaks in the current. They may be behind islands, points, and below bars in mid channel. In strong current, walleyes group tight to structure. In softer current or low water periods, like winter, they often scatter, and hold on edges of barriers or current breaks.
Walleyes like the slack water areas to feed and rest from the force of the current. The metabolic rate of the walleyes is very slow so they donít want to move to fast to get food. They also like to be in shallow water where most of the food supply is at during the winter months. Natural livebait presentation is a must at this time of the year. I will tip a 1/8 oz. Fuzzy Grub with a fathead minnow and flip it out above the slack water area. Then I let it settle and work it down stream in front of the pocket. If no success then I flip the jig in the upper corner of the pocket and work it out to the outer edge. I usually give it about four or five tries and then move on to another good looking walleye area.
Approaching walleyes in these slack water areas is a lesson in stealth. I use my bow mounted MotorGuide trolling motor so I can hover over the top of them. I try not to cast a shadow on the water so I pitch jigs from the up riverside of these pockets. This takes some practice because the river current always wants to take you down stream out of the prime target area. With practice and the "constant on" feature MotorGuide has on it you can fight the current and still stay above the walleyes.
When fishing these winter river walleyes I prefer to use my Quantum spinning rods and reels. The Tour Edition IM7 is my choice for fishing these pockets. I like the medium action 6í6" fast tip to detect light biting walleyes in cold water. Team this spinning rod up with an Energy reel with 6 ball bearings and you have a combination that helps get fish to the boat fast and efficiently.
I have thought a number of times about putting my boat away for the
winter but with open water still on the river I am looking for some
slack water walleyes this winter. If you want to talk about fishing
rivers or the slack water areas below the dams get a hold of me on the
web at www.samanderson.com.
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Since August 1, 1998