Shallow Cranking



Warm rocks, new vegetation, darkness, and wind all move walleyes towards shorelines in the spring. Knowing the exact situations that pull the fish shallow as well as having the tools to chase them leads to angler success.
An unseasonably warm spring day is the first clue to head towards shore. The Cabelas Guidegear jacket lays on your boat seat. It seemed like a good idea earlier, but overkill now that the sun has been working to heat up that north shoreline. The walleyes respond for multiple reasons.

The rocks and shallow mud hold solar heat so the water in the area is the warmest in the lake. This pumps up the walleye metabolism and allows them to feed more efficiently. The bait holds in the back of north bays and eventually filters out past a point, steep shoreline, submerged timber or other walleye ambush area. A lightweight jig would work here, but eventually could fall into the rocks and snag. A slow-moving jerkbait like the Berkley Cutter 90 or a crankbait like the Flicker Shad can bang into a rock or rattle through the mud and float back up without issues.

That same solar energy provides a start to weed growth in the shallows. Pondweed, coontail, and milfoil all start to provide just enough cover to hide baitfish and generate insect life. This cover only extends partway up to the surface allowing walleyes to cruise the area above. In this case, a jig would be lost in the vegetation while a crankbait like the Berkley Flicker Shad Shallow can work at just the right depth above the weeds.

These spots are small. At the first sign of afternoon wind move into these areas and see if walleyes are active. No need to run the full shoreline like a bass fisherman, a few casts is all you need to check if the fish are feeding in that area. Make the rounds again on your way into the ramp in the evening. The sunset magic hour can trigger walleyes as well so make a few casts just in case.
Keep two or three rods rigged for casting in the spring. The Cabelas Prodigy 7-foot medium light action rod will cast either the 5cm or 7cm crankbaits with ease. Berkley 8-carrier braid in 10-lb test has a thin diameter which extends casts and allow the lures to dive deeper. Clearer waters might need a fluorocarbon leader, but in most cases, we tie directly to a #1 snap to make lure changes easier.

Finally, the largest fish in the lake feed shallow at night in the spring. Wading these same areas after dark from ice out until the summer peak is a sure way to find the next bite.