Tips on Ice Fishing for Walleye🎣
It’s no secret that Prince Edward County is home to world-class walleye fishing. The Bay of Quinte is a tributary of Lake Ontario where a unique walleye migration occurs. These fish travel into the Bay from the big waters of Lake Ontario during the fall, where they will hunker down for a few months roaming and feeding until eventually spawning in the spring and heading back out to Lake Ontario.
Words & Images by: Ashley Rae | SheLovesToFish.com
There’s great fall walleye fishing to be had out on the open water, but this opportunity also extends into the winter and the ice fishing season. (Note that walleye season closes on March 1st on the Bay of Quinte, and then opens back up in May.)
Locations for Winter Walleye
The Bay of Quinte is a vast water body, so it can be overwhelming to determine where to begin the search for winter walleye. Safe ice certainly dictates where anglers can venture out, but knowing the types of areas that walleye can be found can save time and increase the chance of success.
I have found the best luck over the years focusing on mid-depth flats ranging from 15-30 feet of water that have both access to shallower and deeper waters nearby.
Walleye tend to move into deeper waters during the day and shallower waters during the evening. Setting up in a location that offers all of the above provides a good shot at intercepting these fish during their typical travel routes.
To view the water depth chart of the Bay, I use the Navionics Boating HD Marine & Lakes app on my smartphone.
Equipment & Tactics
There’s a wide range of equipment available for targeting walleye through the ice.
One item that is at the top of my list for ice fishing is a flasher, which is a sonar designed for ice fishing. This enables me to see the water depth, bottom composition, and also see in real time if there’s a fish beneath my transducer and how they react to my lure. This enables me to adjust my technique and hopefully entice a bite. Walleye can be very finicky at times!
For these big walleye I prefer using 28” to 38” medium-heavy rods and spinning reels spooled with 10-pound test braided line and a 12-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
In terms of lure colours, I tend to lean towards the natural colours that look similar to baitfish (including perch). I have also found luck with some of the brighter colours such as fire tiger, purple, or hot tiger in low light conditions.
As for tactics, the way I work my lure all depends on the lure type. I typically jig around 2-5 feet off bottom with a Snap Rap or Jigging Shad Rap tipped with a live minnow. I’ll slowly lift it in a hopping motion, then let it settle back down and repeat.
I’ll work a lipless crankbait, spoon, or blade bait, a little higher than my jig by lifting and dropping. These baits have vibration or rattle and can work well to ‘call’ fish in and get them interested. Most times they will go for the jig closer to bottom, but sometimes more aggressive fish will hit the call bait.
When to Fish
Walleye are most active during low light periods, like sunrise and sunset. It’s best to be out on the ice with a line in the water during these times as it’s when the most action tends to occur. This doesn’t mean that a great catch won’t come along during the middle of the day, but the odds are in your favour during low light.
When fishing in shallower waters, noise can easily spook fish. It’s best to drill all the holes at once and that way you’re not firing up the auger during the hot bite window.