Low Light Conditions Are Usually Best

Whether you are fishing early, mid or late into the winter ice fishing season, walleye definitely bite better during low light conditions just like during the open water season.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them during the day, but the morning and evening bite is usually better.  In murkier water or on lakes that have a good amount of snow covering the ice, anglers may do better during the day than they would on a comparable body of water with little to no snow cover and clear water.

Early Winter

Early in the winter season, you can experience a little bit of everything.  On bodies of water up north with good amounts of current, you may be able to get out in a boat and fish open water even though temperatures would suggest that it is more like ice fishing weather than boat weather.

Don’t Miss the Shallow Bite

Once the temperatures cool enough for the lakes to freeze over, the ice anglers can start getting serious about their walleye fishing through the ice.  Once there is enough ice to safely get out there and fish, you usually have a few things happen.  Good amounts of walleye move into the shallows to feed and there is little to no snow cover on the ice.  So, you have walleye in shallow water, but these fish can easily be spooked due to your close proximity to them and the visibility at this point of the season.

Many anglers struggle in shallow because they do not realize how many fish they are scaring away as they move around the flats, drill several holes and make plenty of noise moving their gear around and talking to their buddies.  You need to be more stealthy if you plan to target these shallow water walleye.  Spread out a bunch of holes and try dead sticking some live minnow rods across the flat.  Then, try not to make too much noise while trying to figure out how the bite is on any given day.  If you do not want to fish shallow, you can still find plenty of walleye deeper.  Try fishing that first breakline that gives walleye easy access from deep to shallow and vice versa.

Mid Winter

During the middle of the winter, there are plenty of places you can go up north and still find some excellent ice fishing conditions.  There should be enough ice to safely get vehicles out there, which allows anglers to move around on the ice much easier.  The downside of this time of year is that you usually have to deal with some really cold air temperatures to go along with considerable amounts of snow packed on top of the ice.

For many anglers on most bodies of water, anglers will be fishing deeper water out towards the main basin of the lake.  On a lake that has good depth super close to shore, you will usually find a lot of walleye along the deeper breaklines, but you will also find many fish suspended further offshore as well.  On lakes that are shallower, you may have to get out in the middle of the lake to find some of the better deep water spots for this time of year.

While you can still find some walleye up shallower around vegetation on some lakes, the better bite is usually found deeper.  For many anglers that are new to ice fishing for walleye, just think of it similarly to how walleye transition from spring through fall on a larger lake.  In the middle of winter, you will find a lot of quality walleye in similar spots that you find them once it gets hot in the summer time.

Late Winter

As we get closer to the end of the ice fishing season, good numbers of walleye will start moving to areas of the lake that have some current.  Fish closer to the parts of the lake that have good spawning areas.  On many of the better walleye lakes up north, there will be streams and creeks that run into the lake.  These spawning streams will attract walleye as it starts getting closer to spring.  You still may find plenty of walleye in deeper water, but you can start finding fish that have already started to migrate towards their spring spawning spots.