Spring Walleye Fishing
When it come to spring and walleyes, there’s one body of water that always seems to come up… Green Bay. Lake Michigan, specifically Green Bay and it’s tributaries, offers world class walleye fishing all year long, but spring is a special time to be on this body of water. The vast expansion of water offers unlimited opportunity for anglers willing to explore and put in the work. Overwhelming at first, Green Bay can become one of your favorites in a hurry, and for good reason! Fish in the 10-12+ lb range are not uncommon in spring. Let’s go over a few key components to breaking down this HUGE body of water and putting more fish in your boat!
As a full time outfitter and guide, clients expect to be on fish (as they should) every day. I can tell you from experience that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Green Bay is a HUGE body of water and the fish use just about all of it during the course of the year. In spring, I like to target rivers, river mouths, shorelines, shallow sand flats, and some shallow rock. Depending on water temps the fish will stage in different areas moving in and out of rivers and shorelines. So where does efficiency come into play? One word, electronics. The first thing you notice when you get in my boat is probably the ridiculously large graphs at the helm and bow. Electronics are my #1 way to stay efficient and on fish for my clients day in and day out. The graph does not lie, and the more comfortable you get with your electronics, the more you trust them, the better you will be at breaking down big water. For years I preached about side imaging. It was my favorite setting when I’m looking for fish, rocks, weeds ect. It’s still a very valuable tool in my boat to this day. But times are changing and so is technology. Keeping up with changes in technology is part of being an efficient fisherman. The last several years I’ve been running Lowrance active target (forward facing sonar) in my boat. It’s been a complete game changer, showing me a “real time” picture of what I’m looking at. Helping me stay on fish as they move throughout the spring. Like I said before, the graph doesn’t lie! If you can’t see the fish on your electronics they are probably not there. Keep moving!
Green Bay spring walleye fishing begins as soon as we can get a boat in the water of the rivers. The Fox River in Depere, WI is one of the first areas we are able to fish early in the spring. Water temps as cold as 33/34 degrees can be encountered early in the year. Minnows, plastics and hair jigs are my go to when the water is cold. SLOW, SLOW presentations are key to getting bites this time of the year. Fish will also stage at the mouths of the rivers getting ready to run up and spawn once the water temps are right. As the water warms as spring progresses, fish will spawn in the rivers, and shallow shorelines on both the east and west shores of Green Bay. With the west shore being much shallower then the east shore fish will spawn there first. When fishing the mouth of rivers, which will typically have warmer water coming out with spring runoff, pay attention to temps. 1-2 degrees of change in warmer water can make a big difference in how the fish react to your baits. It may not seem like a lot but chasing warm water in the spring even 1/2 degrees warmer can make a big difference in how many fish you put in the boat. With the current and wind on Green Bay, paying attention to your graph and temperature will increase your efficiency as an angler, subsequently putting more fish in the boat!
Just like water temperature, water clarity is equally important to pay attention to in the spring to put more fish in the boat. In spring I prefer a stained water if I have a choice. Stained water is typically a few degrees warmer then clear water. A lot of the stained water on Green Bay comes from the rivers or wind. Dirty/stained water will hold higher water temps, also holding more fish, and more ACTIVE fish. The current and wind will move this stained/warmer water around in a daily, or sometimes and hourly basis. Chasing good water will always put more fish in the boat. Water with some color will also normally make the walleyes more apt to eating rather then just being in a negative/ lethargic mood. If you find a pod or school of fish that will not bite, don’t be afraid to come back to them later in the day, sometimes once the water warms up in the afternoon those fish will start feeding or at least be active enough to catch. You will be surprised how far and how fast this water moves around on Green Bay!
Spring walleye fishing on Green Bay is a experience that every serious angler should experience. Lots of fish, and lots of BIG fish is a common day on the water in spring. There’s alot of water on the bay but starting with these key points will help you break down the water faster and make you a more efficient angler! If your not sure where to start Green Bay offers lots of guided fishing charters. Make sure you hire a reputable guide to give you the best experience possible. Good luck out on the water!
Capt. Jacob Kaprelian
Owner, Epic Guide Service