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Ice Walleye

Guest Blog by: Nate Zelinsky 1/3/2013

How has everyone been doing so far this winter? It is great to have good ice and now that the front range is locked up good it's all about Walleye! Walleye through the ice can be a little difficult but with a good plan you can overcome that difficulty. I have been spending the majority of my time on Chatfield and Cherry Creek and I approach the lake with 1 of 2 plans, plans are dependent on the size of structure I will be fishing.

Number one rule to up your odds is to fish structure. You want be fishing some sort of structure change. Any depth change from shallow to deep is a good playground for a hungry Walleye.

The first question I ask myself is what size is the structure I am planning on fishing. Once I've done my research and I know the area I can decide on my set up. If the structure is small say a small island or rock pile I am willing to set up on that location and wait for the Walleye to come to me. With this set up I will be fishing two Fenwick 27-inch medium action rods One with an Ice Buster Slip Bobber fished with a live fathead or shiner minnow about 6 inches off the bottom. My other rod is an active rod fished with a spoon or other active bait. Sometimes I tip these spoons with a half of a minnow or a minnow head. This rod never sits still. I work this bait continuously anywhere from 2 inches off the bottom up to 18 inches off the bottom. On this type structure I am waiting for the Walleye to come to me.

On scenario #2 I am fishing structure that is larger such as a long shoreline or underwater ledge. This type structure will have fish cruising all over. I like to approach this structure with a run and gun approach. I typically will drill many holes up and down the structure while covering ground. At times I might drill up to 100 holes. The quieter the auger the better for the fact that you are drilling so many holes. I personally found that my Jiffy 4Stroke gas and propane auger are so quiet I can drill a hole and almost instantly catch a fish. That tends to help with this style of fishing. After I have drilled all of my holes I will go back and start fishing. This time I only fish with 1 rod. Typically a heavier action rod that I can work baits a little more aggressively. I prefer a Fenwick 28-inch Medium Heavy rod. I use baits like a JR's Flasher spoon, Jigging Rapalas, and even Blade Baits. I typically will not tip with bait just so I do not waste time. I will fish each hole for only a matter of minutes if not seconds. If I don't get a strike or catch a fish within 2 minutes I will jump to the next hole and I will keep doing this until I catch a fish. This is a very productive way to cover water and produce Winter Walleyes.

To learn more about these and other techniques think about booking a 3 or 6 hour guide trip or attending my 2 day Ice School. Walleye school is this weekend and there are only 3 or 4 spots left. The 3 hour walleye guide trip is only $300 for 4 anglers! Email at tightlineoutdoors@gmail,com if you are interested.


Nathan Zelinsky

Nathan Zelinsky is a full time professional walleye angler. He has fished the MWC along with many other tournaments. Besides tournament fishing Nathan is owner/operator of Tightline Outdoors guide service which is an all species guide service, fishing for Walleye, Smallmouth Bass,Northern Pike, Trout, Catfish, Carp, Perch, Tiger Muskie, Kokanee Salmon and Wiper. Nathan spends around 300 days a year on the water or ice. Nathan also runs a Ice Fishing School in the winter months. He is a frequent guest on ESPN Outdoots with Terry Wickstrom and also appears frequently on Angling Adventures, Fishful Thinker and Lip'em & Rip'em. Nathan is also a member of ICE TEAM. Nathan is sponsored by Lund Boats, Mercury Marine, JRs Tackle, Interstate Batteries, JIffy Augers, Berkley, Fenwick, Phlueger, White Caps, Crowly Marine, Replicas INC, The Sign Guys and Gal, Ice Armor, Clam, Vexilar, Mr. Heater, Ice Team, Blue Quill Angler, Todays Tackle and Line-X.
Blog content © Nate Zelinsky
Member comments
FishForAll, CO   1/4/2013 8:00:57 AM
Good stuff Nate..I also subscribe to the plan of drilling lots af holes and moving around on structure.. Thanks for sharing Jeff
Scot, CO   1/4/2013 8:42:32 PM
Good write-up, since I want to get into walleye this winter and I'm looking for some good nuts-n-bolts instruction. Can anyone give additional comments/advice on dead-bait versus live shiners. I'd like to drop both to see what happens.....
Nate Zelinsky
Guest Blogger