Three Quick Tips for Spring Walleye

Spring walleye fishing in Canada is bountiful and a great start to any angler’s fresh fishing season.  

Although there’s much more about walleye fishing than this brief tips and tricks guide, the following information is bound to give you a great spring start. You should, however, consider visiting a walleye fishing hot-spot in Canada (such as Bear’s Den Lodge) to get the best fishing experience!

Spring French River Walleye Fishing
One of the many French River walleyes to be found during spring.

Tip #1 – Tools of the Trade:

In order to begin walleye fishing a recommended tool is obviously a fishing rod, but what rod should you use? At Bear’s Den Lodge we recommend that many of our guests fishing the French River should be a fast to moderate action rod in graphite or carbon for jigging. A shorter and faster action rod (generally 5.5 – 6 ft rod though varies per person) is preferable for its better sensitivity over the heavier actions when walleye are biting your jig – though you may opt for a heavier “moderate” action rod should you wish to troll.

Depending on the temperature of water, more often in the early spring live bait will be your best friend at catching walleyes. Depending on price and availability the bait you should consider bringing are:

  • Shiners
  • Suckers
  • Red tail chubs
  • Fatheads
  • Night-crawlers (Bear’s Den Lodge have these baits available in our tackle shop)
canadian nightcrawler
Example of our bait available.

Tip #2 – Location, Location, Location:

Yes the location of where you fish is absolutely important to finding spring walleye. As a general rule you will normally find larger schools of walleye within 15 feet of water (though the larger walleye will be in deeper water) in the early spring where the levels of oxygen are higher and where most bait fish are active. Most of these fish can be found near the shallows in early spring and depending on water level and weather can be as far back as the tree line for us on the French River.

Other spots to fish in the early spring for walleye include:

  • Sandy or gravel bottoms
  • Edges of weed beds
  • Rock points, saddles or humps near fresh flowing water
One of the many popular areas to fish for French River walleye in spring.

Tip #3 – Photophobia (Light Sensitivity)

Walleyes are notorious for their ghostly-white “eyeshine” or scientifically known as tapetum lucidum. The thin whitish-layer on a walleye’s eye allows them to see better in darker environments and greater sensitivity for light. That’s why many anglers will fish for walleyes in the mornings and evenings but fortunately in the spring this also some of the darker and cloudier times of the season. You can take opportunity to fish all day for walleye if you can find places near bottlenecks and fresh vegetation that offers some shade from the midday sun.

In larger and more open bodies of water you can keep your eyes peeled for “walleye chop” where the surface of the water is jagged and rougher from the prevailing winds. Other spots where walleye may seek refuge during sunnier spring days would be places with higher turbidity that makes the water look almost tea stained and gives these predators advantage over potential prey.          

Your hosts, Art & Brenda Barefoot

Bear's Den Lodge

Hartley Bay, R.R. 2, Site 3, Box 10
Alban, Ont. P0M 1A0
Tel: (705) 857-2757

Winter Address:

124 Shagbark Rd.
Alum Bank, PA 15521
Tel: (814) 839-2443

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