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River Walleye Fishing – Tips and Techniques

River Walleye Fishing

Make no mistake about is the majority of fishermen will think of targeting walleye from a boat on a lake, but river walleye fishing is one of the best ways to target walleye.

Undoubtedly the best walleye river fishing is in rivers that feed into a larger body of water i.e a lake.

​Most walleyes tend to spawn along the shallower banks of a lake however if there are large enough rivers that feed into that lake a considerable amount of fish may decide to move up stream into the river and spawn there.

River Walleye Fishing

Fishing for walleye in a river can sometimes be a little trickier than fishing for them in a lake.

The main difference is that you have to learn how to fish with the rivers current and learn to understand how the bottom of the river and it’s features affect where the walleye will lie throughout the day.

The current in any river will carve out small holes and pockets in the bottom over hundreds and thousands of years. It is in these small holes that you will generally find walleye.

This depends of course on how big the river is and how fast the water flows through the main channels.

Generally speaking rivers that have a lot of turns and corners on them will have a lot more places for fish to wait in ambush of their prey compared to perfectly straight rivers.

What to Use ?

Most of the lures and baits that you are already using to catch lake walleyes are just as good to use on rivers.

  • Jigs​
  • Minnows
  • Crankbaits
  • Plastics

Depending on the river however you may need to use smaller walleye fishing lures, slightly lighter line and smaller hooks.

​In clear running waters it is best to stick to darker more natural colors. Black and silver crankbaits, darker colored jigs and worms.

In muddier water you can use much brighter colors like orange and pinks. In fact in really colored waters you probably have no other choice but to use really bright artificial colors.​

You can also try some of the Gulp plastics as they are scented it can really help walleye to home in on your artificial crawlers or grubs.​

River Tackle for Walleyes

Across the different types of techniques there is a massive range of walleye fishing tackle it really all boils down to matching your setup to your approach.

Personally I would stick to a light/medium spinning setup when fishing for river walleye.

A spinning rod for walleye gives you a big advantage over a baitcasting setup as the spinning one is a lot more versatile. It can be used ​as a jigging setup for walleye, bait, all lures and can even be used for light trolling.

A good choice as fishing line for walleye in this scenario is going to be good old fashioned monofilament.

It casts well on light gear, gets virtually no wind knots and has great low visibility.

With the casting setup you are limited by just how small a lure you can use especially when jigging for walleye.

Where to find Walleye’s in rivers ?​

Walleye’s are quite sensitive to light and noise. They will tend to seek out deeper water if spooked.​

The best places to fish for walleye in a river are:

  • Beside dams​
  • In deep pockets
  • Where the river joins a deeper body of water
  • Right along the current breaks

When to fish for Walleye in a river

Without a doubt the most productive season to fish for walleye in a river is spring.

Just after the ​ice melt spring walleye will start to move into shallower water to spawn. During the spawning season walleye will also move into larger river systems especially if the river has lots of suitable spawning sites.

Gravel beds, ​deep pockets near rocks and points etc are all a favorite of spawning walleye.

The places to avoid are fast open water with flat bottoms or heavy weed beds with muddy bottoms.

The more structure the better as flat open water and the river bottoms will contain very little fish.

Trolling on a River for Walleye

Trolling for walleye along a river is one of the best ways to cover a huge amount of water in one day.

Generally if you are trolling on a river then it would imply that is quite a larger or major river system, preferably that feeds into a large lake or reservoir.

When walleye trolling with the current be sure to reduce your speed. Remember in a large flowing river you don’t need to troll too fast as the natural current in the river will help you lures to swim correctly.

Trolling with the current can mean increasing your speed so that your lure finds it’s correct action.

If you are fishing with a walleye jig head or bait you can also just stop the motor and move along with the natural speed of the river.

Diving crankbaits such as the Shad Rap are some of the best producing lures to use.

On some days larger crankbaits don’t seem to perform I like to switch to using a jerkbait as you can add a lot more action into them by twitching the rod tip.

You can bounce the bait along the river bottom targeting walleye that tend to stay deep during the day or late in the season.