It is one of the best times of the year for fishing — early spring, when the walleye make their spawning runs in area rivers and lakes. Water temperatures start rising into the 50s, moving the walleyes to their spawning areas. On rivers, that means toward dams and spillways.

The males will stage just outside the spawning areas, waiting for the females to move in and lay their eggs. The males follow and fertilize the eggs. Their preferred locations are reefs or small gravel bars with some current, up near dams and other major current breaks so the eggs have water circulating over them as they hatch. Unlike the bass species, walleyes are absentee parents: Once the eggs are laid and fertilized, the parents are off to begin feeding up. Males caught during the spawn will be leaking “milk” all over the boat or gear. The females are unmistakable, with their profiles plump from the eggs they are carrying. Walleyes of legal size that are not going to be kept for dinner should be released as quickly as possible to help ensure the continued spawn.

The reports on walleye fishing from around the area have been really good. The Mississippi River Pool 13 at Bellevue, Iowa, reports a lot of male walleyes being caught on the clam beds down river from the dam. The walleye bite is also going really well up on Pool 4 at La Crosse, Wis. A little closer to home, the walleye reports from the Fox Chain of Lakes have been very exciting, with catches ranging from good to great. The best catches are at the bridges and neck down areas. The live baits of choice are night crawlers or minnows. Preferred artificial baits are crankbaits along the edges or Rapalas lures trolled slowly against the current.

Enjoy the early spring fishing, and until next time…keep a tight line.

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