It’s Almost Walleye Time!

Spring weather has finally arrived in the north woods, which means Walleye fishing is right around the corner! It is hard to believe that this time last year I had the docks out and was already looking for Crappies in the shallows. The lake is still frozen but with the warm temperatures we’re fairly confident it will be open by the Walleye opener. So, let’s talk a little walleye fishing on Man Lake.  The last survey by the DNR was done in 2013 and the results are below:

Number of fish caught in each category (inches)

Species 0-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50+ Total
walleye 0 0 0 0 12 51 17 2 2 0 0 0 0 84

As you can see, the data looks pretty good.  There is a healthy population of 15- 24-inch fish, with a few really big fish.  Doug Schultz, the DNR Fisheries’ Supervisor for our region told me this weekend that Man Lake would be his first choice for catching a fish over 30”.  In the three years we have owned the resort I have seen numerous fish over 29” and am not surprised when a guest catches a 32 incher.

The numbers are great, but you still need to get them to bite which can be kind of difficult at times. I see hundreds of walleyes on my camera each summer but have struggled at times to put them into the boat- that’s pretty frustrating! I guess that’s why it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”. My theory for the fish not always biting is simple- there is an abundance of food for them in the lake. Man Lake is a very healthy fishery with a ton of forage and the Walleyes have a smorgasbord of shiners, perch, bluegill, tullibee, and crayfish to each (I’ve seen all of these in the walleye’s stomach.) Now, don’t be too discouraged, obviously the walleye are there, it just takes a bit more work to catch one. And when you do, don’t be surprised if you are pulling in a trophy.

So, how are people catching them? There are many techniques that can be used to catch walleyes on Man.  The most widely used techniques include slip bobbers, rigging live bait, jig and a minnow/leech, trolling raps, and jigging ice fishing raps. I am not a slip bobber guy. I don’t have the patience to sit and watch a bobber, but I’ve seen guests that have been successful at catching walleyes doing this.  In fact, it has been the most effective way early in the season.  I usually like pitching a jig with a shiner or jigging behind the boat.  This is also a good way to cover water.  I do more of this in May and early June, when the fish seem to be a little shallower. My two favorite ways are live bait rigging and jigging ice raps.  The biggest fish I have seen was a 33” walleye caught on an ice rap by my brother, and I’ve caught a 30”28”, and 25” in one evening, plus numerous fish from 18”-26” in the last 3 years using this method.

Probably the best way to catch walleyes on Man Lake though, in my opinion, is a live bait rig with a redtail creek chub.  This is a technique I picked up on from skilled guides that fish Leech Lake.  Redtail chubs are very active minnows that trigger strikes and usually big fish have trouble resisting them.

The last technique is trolling a crankbait.  I personally do not do much of this, but have a few guests that have been successful at it.  With the numerous tullibee in the lake, it can be effective to troll larger minnow looking baits for both Muskie and Walleye. There have been a handful of guest catch numerous large walleyes (25”-32”) while trolling for Muskies.

There you have it, a little bit of information on numbers and techniques.  I could talk fishing all day so stop me at the resort or give me a call if you want to chat about Man Lake walleye fishing! If you haven’t fished the lake before, I encourage you to come stay with us! We have a great Spring rate special going on!