Day-tripping walleye anglers may leave the lakes at sundown, but opportunities to slide hungry ’eyes onto the ice don’t end when darkness falls.
“It’s a great time to be on the ice,” Lindy pro and veteran guide Mike Christensen said of the night shift. “Walleyes are eager to capitalize on their visual advantage over prey fish like perch, bluegills and minnows.
“Plus there’s way less human-related commotion on the lakes,” he continued. “There are fewer vehicles and little or no drilling. The silence makes walleyes feel more secure, especially on lakes with lots of daytime fishing pressure.”
Another reason to fish the late shift now, says Christensen, is that nighttime is the right time for midwinter walleyes. “Early and late in the winter, walleyes are more aggressive and bite pretty well during the day,” he explained. “In the dead of winter, however, they move and feed less, especially in the daytime. You’re more likely to see short spurts of feeding activity at night.”
A variety of lures catch walleyes at night. Lindy Darters and Rattl’n Flyer Spoons are top options for calling fish from a distance, but Christensen also factors the Lindy 360 Jig into his game plan — especially when walleyes look but won’t bite.
“The 360 Jig is a great night bait,” he said. “It’s perfect when walleyes rush in but don’t strike. The body spins on an internal axle, creating sounds and vibrations that get walleyes’ attention, but you can really tone it down to trigger finicky fish, too.”
The 1/8- and ¼-ounce 360 Jig options are his favorites, tipped with a nose-hooked fathead or three juicy waxworms.
To call walleyes in, he makes a series of lift, pause, twitch, fall maneuvers — keeping a semi-slack line in case a fish hits on the drop. When walleye cruises in for a closer look, he lifts the jig a few inches, just enough to spin the blade and kick the bait to the side.
“If that doesn’t get them to bite, I gently shake the jig a couple of times,” he added. “That usually does it.”
Once a fish takes the bait, Christensen swiftly sets the hook on another nighttime walleye, proving yet again that it pays to work the night shift.