If you’re looking for a wholesome winter activity, look no further than ice fishing for Walleye in Northern Michigan!
Sure, the water turns to ice and the boats are stored until spring, but that doesn’t mean we put the chase for fish on pause though! We just change our mindset and tactics with the weather. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as cold as you may think, but yes, you still have to get up early so you don’t miss the sunrise bite! With insulated shelters and heaters, jigging for Walleye through the ice in Traverse City and the surrounding bay area is an absolute riot.
Choosing a location to setup a shelter and jig is the most important part of being successful when it comes to ice fishing for Walleye. An old timer once told me that 90% of fish live in 10% of the water and I have found this to be mostly true. Walleye love structure in a lake. Steep drop-offs, humps, and points are common places to find walleye looking for their next meal. In some lakes, it is also very beneficial to fish right on the edge of weed beds.
The rod is also very important when chasing Walleye. I prefer a medium-light to medium action on my rod which allows enough sensitivity to feel even light bites, but also has a good backbone for hook setting power.
I like to spool my reel with a braided line 8lb-10lb test and a fluorocarbon leader of 6lb-8lb test. The braided line is helpful to get a good hook set and also allows the bait to stay more vertical because it does not stretch at all. The fluorocarbon leader is used because it is invisible so the fish cannot see it.
To complete your setup, you must choose a lure. This is often very dependent on the lake you are fishing, though some common options include: spoons, jigging rapalas, and lipless crankbaits. My favorite lure to use while chasing Walleye through the ice is a do-jigger made by Bay De Noc Lure Co. With almost every lure I use (other than lipless crankbaits) I always use a minnow head for bait on the hook.
Ice fishing electronics are also very cool to fish with. Unlike open water fishing, some companies have designed underwater cameras so you can watch what comes in to your bait. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a big Walleye come in and smash your lure!
It’s not for everyone, but jigging for Walleye through the ice can be a very exciting winter activity for those that that are interested in giving it a try. Megabite Charters can customize your experience however you like it. If you are the type that likes to learn we will teach you everything we can. If you like to be handed a rod when a fish is on we can make that happen as well. At the end of the day, not much compares to a successful day out on the ice chasing Walleye. Don’t let the cold scare you!