Secret to Icing Reluctant Walleyes

Are they biting light? Turn ’em on with these teasing tactics


When a big fish shows up on your sonar screen, there’s a natural tendency to drop your lure in front of its face. But trying to make it easy for a fish to bite rarely works. So how do you get the fish to bite? By making it harder for them! If you understand the species you’re targeting, you can trigger their predatory urges by tempting, teasing and goading them into attacking your bait.

Since walleye are the largest North American member of the perch family, you’d think you could fire up a school by using the same teasing tactics that work on yellow perch (coming soon!), but that’s rarely the case. Maybe it’s because perch are more gregarious and huddle together in greater numbers, so their competitive instincts are that more intense. Or it could be that yellow perch just aren’t the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. I suspect it’s a blend of the two.

That said, I will use the same larger lures for walleye that I use for aggressive perch: W3 Jigging Raps and W30 Warblers (but tipped with minnow heads) and ¼-ounce Freedom Minnows. I’ll also use a fluorescent orange or chartreuse/orange ¼-ounce ReelBait Flasher Jig tipped with a lively minnow, and a lipless crankbait such as the Kamooki Smartfish (below), LiveTarget Shad or Rapala Rippin’ Rap.


When I can’t see any walleye on the sonar screen, I’ll drop one of these baits to within a foot or two of the bottom and pause for 10 seconds. Then I’ll pop it up briskly and pause for another 10 seconds before letting it fall back down to repeat the process.

The thing you always have to remember when ice fishing for walleye is that your presentation consists of two very distinct phases: attraction and triggering. You jig your lure to attract the fish, then trigger them into biting by teasing them.

Bay of Quinte Gold in Ontario for Bob Rustowicz of Western New York! From this past Saturday (January 30, 2016), Rustowicz warns, “Last of the safe ice up there, above freezing temps next 4 days and longer daylight hours will end the ice season there, for now.”

The problem is, you can never count on walleye to do anything consistently. Sometimes when you’re lifting and shaking your lure as if you’ve had too much coffee, one fish will rush in and smack it without hesitation. But then two minutes later, you’ll have to tease the next fish forever to entice a bite. Consider that there may be a solution! Click below to check it out.