Top Lure Tactics for Early Spring River Walleye Fishing

As March rolls around, anglers in the Green Bay area eagerly anticipate the opening of the Fox River, marking the start of open-water fishing for the year. Early spring presents a prime opportunity to target Walleye, as these fish are often less pressured by anglers and can exhibit both aggressive and lethargic behaviors. Below are the top three lure choices and effective fishing techniques to maximize your success on the water.

Hair Jig: The Finesse Approach With water temperatures ranging from low to high 30s during the pre-spawn period, finesse presentations are key to enticing sluggish Walleye. My go-to lure for river fishing is the hair jig, known for its slow yet enticing action that appeals to cold-water Walleye. A gentle snap motion or a steady reel handle crank can trigger strikes from lethargic fish. Opt for colors like orange, gold, and purple, which are particularly effective in river systems like the Fox River. Sizes ranging from ΒΌ to Β½ oz jigs are suitable for varying water depths and conditions. Adding a stinger hook can improve your hookup rate, especially with hesitant biters. Hair jigs effectively mimic a variety of forage, making them an excellent choice for cold-water presentations.

Blade Bait: Subtle Vibrations for Cold Water Blade baits have become a staple for early-season Walleye fishing, thanks to their ability to emit subtle vibrations that attract fish in cold water. These lures excel when worked slowly, allowing fish to locate and react to them even when they’re not actively feeding. Use short, subtle snap motions to impart action to the bait, being careful not to overwork it. A medium-light rod with a fast tip provides the ideal balance of sensitivity and power for effectively fishing blade baits. Similar to hair jigs, blade baits in gold and purple hues are popular choices, but experimentation with colors can yield great results.

Jig and Plastic: Versatile and Effective The jig and plastic combo is a versatile and widely used setup for early spring river fishing. Proper rigging of the plastic is crucial for achieving a natural presentation. Ensure the plastic is threaded straight and evenly on the hook shank to maximize its effectiveness. Current cutter jig styles minimize drag and enhance the action of the plastic, making them ideal for river fishing. Plastics such as ringworms, flukes, or paddle tails are all effective options. Natural colors like oyster shells are preferred on sunny days, while brighter colors like chartreuse and orange perform well in stained water or overcast conditions. Employ a slow snap motion or a dragging technique to keep the plastic in the strike zone, increasing your chances of enticing a bite.

Attention to detail is crucial when targeting early spring river Walleye. By employing finesse presentations and paying attention to subtle cues, anglers can increase their odds of success. Consider these tactics and lure choices on your next fishing adventure, and may your early spring Walleye outings be fruitful.

Images/Source: Piscifun

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