Pursuing trophy walleye, especially from shore, presents an interesting set of challenges. When fishing for walleye from shore, you obviously can’t fish as large of an area as boat fishermen. However, you’re also able to fish smaller, more secluded areas that aren’t possible from a boat. These less accessible areas can be a gold mine. Read on to learn more about how to fish for waleyye from shore.
Catching big walleye from shore is more common than you’d think. Some excellent spots include small-river spillways, larger rivers, and Great Lakes seawalls. Different locations have different strategies, and we’ll discuss some of the best places to fish for walleye from shores, the best walleye bait and lures and some great gear for catching walleye in 2023.
Part 1: How to Fish for Walleye from Shore: Best Spots
Location 1: Spillways
Spillways are an excellent source of walleye for much of the year. These overflows from lakes and reservoirs provide bait rich water for walleye. Spillways provide an excellent feeding source all day long. Try to make long casts towards the face of the spillway. The heavy jighead allows for greater feel and control as the lure is drawn out of the rough water and swept along the current. During the retrieve, it’s pulled downstream by the current and retrieved back upstream to your casting position. Allow the lure to sink a bit deeper with each cast. Walleyes will strike what they believe to be a fleeing baitfish, so try not to let the lure drag on the bottom for too long.
Spillway Fishing Gear
Select a lure that will be snag resistant. The waters and bottom in these areas is very rough. This is also a very low visibility environment so stick to bigger, more noticeable lures.
Braid in the 15- to 30-pound range allows for sensitivity and is strong enough for a variety of hook-sets. A good hook set is necessary to drive home the hook when you’re working with longer distances. Heavier braid also results in fewer lures lost to the bottom. If you aren’t having success from one spot, you can adjust the angle by which lures are presented to the fish.
Location 2: Big Rivers
One of the best walleye bites occurs every spring when the fish move upstream to complete their spawning process. You’ll want to look for the first area near a current break downstream from a dam. Walleye tend to concentrate in these areas to spawn. While some walleye feed during daylight, the best time of day for big walleye occurs a few hours after dark and continues periodically throughout the night. The next prime time is an hour before daylight.
Big River Walleye Fishing Gear
Your primary walleye baits are mid-sized stickbaits and shad baits, running from 3 to 8 feet deep. A successsful day will involve at least a few lure changes, so be prepared with several colors and sizes. The best lures for walleye dive quickly, have faster action, and maintain their depth well when paused.
Line selection is largely a matter of preference. Superlines and monofilament both offer advantages and disadvantages when river fishing with waders. Superline tends to be better for casting while braided line provides the best strength and pulling power to fight through snags. In deeper water, Superline may be the best option. In low snag areas, monofilament is a good option over braid, and in shallow rough areas, the strength of the braided line becomes the most important.
Location 3: Seawalls
The Great Lakes are well known for walleye. Seawalls and pier heads can offer some of the best spots to find your next walleye.
Seawall Fishing Gear
Compact lures with vibration have a lot of success. As with wading in shallow rivers, the key to fishing seawalls is a keen eye. Pay close attention to depth, current, areas of low flow and bottom composition. Seawall fishing also often involves a drop down to the water, don’t forget to bring a good size net of 5-6ft.
Good lures include broader profile lures that cast well, especially in the typically windy conditions of the Great Lakes. 15- to 20-pound braided line works well to avoid snagging on the bottom, but remains sensitive.
Part 2: How to Fish for Walleye from Shore: Best Lures and Best Bait for Walleye
Alright, so you now know where to catch walleye from shore. Now the question is, what is the best bait for walleye fishing? Well, as we’ve touched on already, there are quite a few options. Let’s learn more about each one.
Best Lures and Jigs for Walleye
When it comes to lures and jigs, the key is to test a variety of colors, sizes and retrieval methods to identify what is working best at that day location on that day. The water itself plays a big role in determining which lure or jog will be successful. In colder water, walleye tend to move slower and less often. In this scenario, it’s best to use a slow retrieve to help encourage a bite. Working a stickbait deep in the water or slowly jigging along the bottom can work really well under these conditions.
However, in warmer water, where walleye are more active, you’ll want to increase the speed of your retrieve. A faster moving lure or jig can often result in a bite here.
Best Live Bait for Walleye
Like jigs and lures, live bait can also be very successful for walleye fishing. Walleye certainly enjoy a good minnow. You can also try crayfish, nightcrawlers, leeches and small perch. The bigger you go with your bait, the fewer and larger the walleye will be. I’d start with a ssmaller size bait and see what kind of action you get before moving up.
Best Rigs for Walleye
1. Bottom Live Bait Rig
If the walleye are staying near the bottom, you’ll want to setup your rig specifically with this in mind. To set up the live bait rig for walleye, attach a drop shot weight slightly above the hook. The weight will get your bait down to the bottom. The key is to keep the weight just far enough from the live bait that it can still create action once it gets to the bottom. Walleye are attracted to the vibrations of the live bait, so a lively minnow on a bottom rig can be an excellent tool.
2. Floating Live Bait Rig
A floating rig is a better option in warmer waters when walleye are more active, or if you’re fishing a moving river or stream. Like I mentioned earlier, walleye tend to congregate is slower moving pockets. A float rig will allow your bait to flow with the current and into naturally flow into these slow moving areas where the walleye are feeding.
3. Spinner Rig
A spinner rig for walleye allows you to fish a much larger area. A spinner rig also allows you to target areas of water that you can’t reach by using the current. When fishing for walleye from shore with a spinner rig, I’d recommend casting a couple times in one area and then changing angles. When it comes to spinner rigs, the name of the game is volume. Cast from as many locations and angles as possible to snag your walleye.
Part 3 – How to Fish for Walleye from Shore: Walleye Fishing Gear
Having the right gear for any fishing trip can make or break your entire day. I’ve discussed walleye fishing locations and the best lures and bait for walleye fishing. Now it’s time to discuss what gear you’ll need to have the most successful walleye fishing trip.
A basic one, but important one. Don’t forget to have the proper licensing for your trip. If fishing out of state, always be sure to double check the laws and regulations of wherever you’re going.
There are several different types of walleye reels depending on which type of fishing you’ll be doing.
- Spinning Reels: Spinning reels are used mostly when casting on rivers especially when using lighter bait rigs and smaller lures. We wrote a great piece about the best spinning reels for under $100.
- Trolling Reels: Trolling reels for walleye tend to be heavier duty. They should be capable of storing a lot of line and cranking hard for a good fight.
- Jigging Reels: When jigging for walleye the tackle should be all about sensitivity. The rod is more important than the reel when jigging, but there are still some important reel considerations. It should be small and light with a sensitive drag.
When choosing a walleye rod, you have to make sure it’s strong enough to land the bigger fish but sensitive enough to feel a subtle hit. The rod also needs to be strong enough for a strong hook set.
- Rod type: Spinning, trolling or jigging. Which do you plan on doing? Buy accordingly.
- Rod length: Typical rod lengths for salmon range from 6′ to 6/12′. There always exceptions. You can try a longer rod for trolling, but if spinning or jigging, it isn’t necessary.
- Rod power: Typically trolling will require the most power. The bigger the fish, the sturdier the rod will need to be. If jigging or casting, stick to a medium power rod at most.
- Rod action: The faster the action, the more sensitive the rod is. Walleye have a very subtle bite, so sensitivity is very important when jigging and casting. Trolling a bit less, so you can sacrifice some action here.
Fishing Line and Leader
The right walleye fishing line will often be determined by the type of walleye you are targeting.
- Monofilament: Still one of the most popular fishing lines available today. You can never go wrong with mono for the price. Mono is good if you’re walleye fishing in shallow waters where the fish can thrash around much more and you’d benefit from a little extra give.
- Fluorocarbon: Fluoro is an excellent option for your leader. I’d start with 10-14lb test here.
- Braided line: 6-8lb braided line is tough enough to withstand a good fight and rough bottom.
Waders come in a variety of materials, sizes and styles. The price varies widely and you can find a set suited to the type of fishing, climate, season and waters you’ll be fishing. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when purchasing your next set of waders. Be sure to consider the wader material and insulation. Warm weather fishing will definitely require a different wader than colder weather. Breathability matters. If you’re looking for an awesome pair of waders, check out our Ducks Unlimited Widgeon Waders Review and our Sitka Delta Zip Waders Review.
Conclusion – Hopefully You Know How to Catch Walleye from Shore Now!
While there’s no teacher like experience, hopefully you know more about fishing for walleye from shore than you did before you read this guide. We’ve covered a lot – from walleye fishing locations, to the best walleye bait and lures, to all your other walleye fishing equipment. Take this information, prepare yourself for your next trip and get out there!
Hopefully you enjoted this guide about how to for walleye from shore. Go catch ’em up!