Targeting those winter walleyes that are not necessarily in feeding mode, you have to find them where they spend the majority of their time in the depths. That’s not to say that they’re not out roaming the open basin of the Bay, but they will be close to it. You will want to target staging areas where the deep basin runs close to the shallower areas where the walleyes are moving up to feed, Especially where the fish are holding in preparation for moving toward spawning areas as spring approaches. This may be a deep flat just out from the mouth of a spawning river, or even a basin area adjacent to rocky/sandy shoreline spawning areas. It could be a thirty foot flat that runs along a wall, or it might be the forty foot drop off the end of a main point.
I suggest several pieces of equipment that I think are crucial to finding these winter walleye.
1st a decent ice flasher. A flasher will help you quickly, after drilling a hole in the ice, figure out weather or not that area is holding fish . 2nd it will allow you when using different presentations, figure out what is making the fish strike that day. (when choosing a flasher take into consideration that a mapping system (GPS) is the second piece of equipment I will be suggesting) there are decent flashers on the market today with GPS capabilities that won’t break the bank.
2nd a GPS. Walleye will be found in a specific area on the bay and may hold that position for several day’s/weeks before moving to a new location. A GPS will put you right back on fish you find, and takes any guess work out of it. If you have a smart phone you can download the Navionics apps for this tool and do not need to purchase an expensive separate unit.
check out https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marine-lakes-us-canada/id382815123?… for details
3rd a decent tool to get you through the ice. (when choosing this item remember although a gas powered auger is amazing it is not always practical, or financially practical. when you do not have a vehicle such as a ATV, or snow machine a gas powered auger can be heavy to haul around the ice.)
As for the rest of the gear needed that’s a whole different Blog.
Scouting, Scouting can be done any time of the year in the open water season, however the best times to do this is in the post spawn and late fall seasons as these are the areas that tend to hold good walleye in the midwinter months as well. Mark these areas on your handheld GPS units.
Once you’ve located a general area to scout out, it’s a matter of drilling several holes and using the flasher to scan the bottom for signs of life. Walleye’s tend to be rather slow this time of year, I often will go ahead and work the spot for forty five minutes to an hour before even thinking of moving to a new location. Earlier in the season I may only stay on a spot for 15 to 20 minutes.
In order to bring walleye in for a look I usually use a second line in a separate hole approx 2.5 feet apart from my primary jigging hole. In this hole I put on a Clackin Rap and jig it vigorously for a few seconds every few minutes. If any curious walleyes are in the area you will pick them up on the sonar. Sometimes they even smash the Clackin Rap instead of my primary jig.
Remember the more time you put in to catching these winter walleye the more success you’ll have good luck and Tight Lines