Riege: Lite up the Nite Bite

Published 7:50 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Bug hatches and angling pressure can cause walleyes to feed only in low light conditions when there isn’t as much commotion on the surface of the lake. If the lake is crystal clear chances are that you will probably have better luck fishing for walleyes at night. Walleyes have a reputation of being sensitive to light and in some cases this holds true, but walleyes are also attracted to light as well. Walleyes that spend a lot of the day in deep water will be drawn to lures and jigs that give off a glow or light. Some of these lures might have tiny batteries in them and others might be painted with a “glow in the dark” paint that enables the walleyes to see your offering.

The immediate desire to catch fish often overshadows the more logical approach of understanding them first. When an angler knows how a fish feeds and the ways in which a fish uses its various senses, he is better equipped to meet the challenge of fishing. Simply drowning a bait or mechanically cranking a lure spans a very narrow angling corridor. It becomes a hit and miss effort that lacks consistency.

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Each fish species has its own life style and even within a given family of fishes, there are subtle differences. Walleyes and saugers may be found in the same body of water, but they are not the same fish and show distinctive preferences and habits.

A basic familiarity with the lake and the structures of the lake you’re planning to fish at night is important. Looking over your map will give you a chance to discover where these fish might be and shallow water obstructions before the evening comes.

When I first get on a heavily fished body of water, I’ll start running the lake and looking for things that aren’t obvious to all anglers. For example the things like bottom changes. You might run a straight shoreline break and see where it changes from sand into rock or mud into hard bottom. You may even discover a rock pile that doesn’t show up on a lake map.

A lot depends on the type of lake you are fishing. Maybe I’ll find weed-oriented walleyes, and I may look for little breaks in the weed line rather than big elongated points off shore. I’ll run a straight break and suddenly I might see a little inside turn or little turning point down the weed line, places that aren’t so obvious. Another gold mine for ole moon eyes is small gravel patches near or within a weedline.

One of my favorite spots to look for nighttime walleye is near the entrances of a bay or harbor, especially if the entrance is narrow and there is at least seven to ten feet of water nearby.

The key to a productive area is the presence of baitfish such as shiners. If minnows are in the harbor or the bay during the day, walleyes will visit at night. Check the area to be fished during the day and see if there is an abundance of bait. If there are lots of minnows, the odds are good that lots of walleye will visit later on.

These fish can be very patternable. It might take a while to get them exactly figured out, but once the best fishing time is established, the fish will feed at that time, or close to it, the next few nights. A change in weather is the primary factor that can throw off this timing.

Night fishing will call for the use of live bait and one of the best ways to present live bait is with a Thill Nite Brite™ Lighted Float. This revolutionary new product promises to make night fishing even more enjoyable. Thill’s Nite Brite™ Lighted Float is both a slip float and a fixed float in one! Its breakthrough E.L. Light technology gives off a glow that is 20 times brighter and lasts twice as long as most other lighted bobbers.

If I am using Thill Nite Brite™ Lighted Float for walleyes I like to attach a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce jig to the business end of the line instead of a plain hook. I like the color or artificial light given off that a jig head adds plus I need to add very little extra weight to pull the line down to the preset depth when using a jig head.

Sometimes I have found that a very tiny hook on four-pound-test Berkley XT is the very best way to go when fishing walleyes. The very tiny hook is somewhat relative to the size of your bait. A tiny hook for a shiner minnow would not be tiny for leeches or nightcrawlers. When using crawlers or leeches the hook can actually be hidden a bit in the bait itself. One of the real key factors in making this sliding bobber rig work is to match the bobber to the fishing situation. This will mean that you will want to use the smallest bobber that you possibly can and still maintain visibility and keep your bait afloat. Bobber rigs that are neutrally buoyant will take less effort by the fish to actually pull them down. If you find that you get bites, but then the bait is spit out before you set the hook, your bobber may be too big. Try weighting your float rig with a few more split shot or a heavier jig.

One last tip for slip bobber users. Always reel up all of the slack in your line before you set the hook. Most missed fish occur because anglers set the hook on a bow in the line and not on the fish. Reel in slack line until you feel the fish and then set the hook. Once you set the hook immediately reel down until you feel the fish. This will ensure that most of your excess line is gone.

Night fishing is a special time to catch bigger walleyes when things are tough during the day. Don’t underestimate the power of darkness to get these monsters on the move. Understand the feeding patterns of pressurized walleyes and light up your night fishing with lighted floats or “glow in the dark” jig heads and you will be surprised. Send me an email on your night fishing experience, get a hold of me on the web at www.samanderson.com. Until then, good luck and tight lines.