As cool weather finally cloaks lakes around the Midwest in a welcome sheet of ice, anglers eagerly gear up for their first hardwater forays of the season.

On the walleye front, shallow, fertile, first-to-freeze lakes offer some of your best chances for early winter hookups. These systems range in size from less than 100 acres up to massive fisheries like Minnesota’s famed Upper Red Lake.

Forage-rich shallows are often a hotbed of walleye activity. Depending on the lake, depths of four to eight feet offer hungry ’eyes a variety of food sources, ranging from frogs to emerald shiners, young-of-the-year perch and juvenile sunfish.

Classic walleye structure is often scarce in such scenarios, so drilling a string of holes perpendicular to the bank is a great way to zero in on the depth at which walleyes are cruising.

When you drill, punch a pair of holes in each position. That way, you can work a fish-attracting, active presentation on one line, while taking a more subtle approach with a second line.

Top picks for calling walleyes from afar include the Lindy Darter, Rattl’n Flyer Spoon and Wally Talker. Quieter presentations include a live minnow, tail-hooked on a Lindy Frostee Spoon.

It’s worth noting that the Wally Talker is versatile enough to do double-duty. Its unique array of brass disks and crushed glass beads produce quite the sound and light show when worked aggressively. But you can also tone down the performance with subtle rod twitches when finicky fish demand a less animated approach.

Sound Advice

Fish Ed TV host Jon Thelen has spent a lifetime learning the many variables involved in consistently putting fish on the ice. This Saturday morning, he shares his hard-earned secrets of how a variety of sounds appeal to our favorite fish in different situations.

As Jon reveals, walleyes, bluegills, crappies and other popular species are highly sensitive to noises in the underwater world. Tune in to Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin at 8:30 a.m. for sound advice on using a fish’s sense of hearing to lure it in and make it bite.

If you like catching fish, you don’t want to miss Jon’s detailed information on how variations in the pitch, cadence and volume of lure sounds can attract fish and trigger strikes under different conditions.

As a bonus, this weekend’s edition of Fish Ed also offers a crash course on choosing the best lakes for incredible winter perch fishing.