Walleye Dan’s Tips to Fish Like a Pro this Opener

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It’s May and that means the walleye fishing opener is just around the corner! For many anglers, the opener means a trip Up North to try their hand at catching walleye—the most sought-after fish in Minnesota. The walleye is known to be elusive and can sink even the most optimistic spirit. We caught up with local fishing guide Walleye Dan to get early season tips on how to put fish in your livewell on opener weekend.  

Early Season Walleye Tips

We should be in good shape this year as far as the bite. The walleye have had ample time to spawn and should be looking to eat come opener! One of the keys to catching more walleye is to try to keep from spooking the school. The clearer the lake, the spookier the fish, and now that zebra mussels have taken hold in many of our lakes, the clarity is crazy! Night fishing can be extremely effective early in the season and trolling or casting shallow running baits is the most popular presentation—and it works. As for depth at night, focus on 2 to 7 feet of water. During daylight, the fish will spread out a little depending on where they are finding food.

Check the Rules! Don’t forget to brush up on the 2021 fishing regulations before you head out on the water.

Fish Shallow

If you’re searching for walleyes early in the season, I would seek shallow water and more specifically those areas near or in the moving water (rivers, inlets, outlets, and next down areas near bridges). To catch these fish, you can use a variety of techniques (jigs, minnows, live bait rigs, crank baits, soft plastic swim baits, and others). If you’re using minnows, try to find spot tail shiners or red tail chubs. Night crawlers can be good and so can leeches—if the water isn’t too cold. If the leech curls up and doesn’t want to swim, it’s too cold.

Don’t forget about panfish

There have been a number of “openers” where I have been thankful that there are panfish. My suggestion is to switch species if those walleyes aren’t cooperating—especially if you have the little ones with you! As you are looking for active crappies or blue gills, look to the bays and don’t be afraid to fish extremely shallow. Also, cover water with long casts so you don’t spook them! Clear water equals spooky fish!

I hope you all have an awesome fishing season! Enjoy your time on the water.

— Walleyedan
Learn more at www.walleyedan.com.