Get Reel in the North: Fishing for March walleye

Dave with a plump Manitoulin walleye

What a great weekend it was for the Manitoulin Ice Showdown. It was terrific to see all the traffic that was generated on the Island. I was up early and on the road all weekend working on the Lake Manitou side of things. I was astounded by the number of people out and about. What a great event to display Manitoulin Island as a four-season destination.

The derby had some fantastic catches with massive rainbow trout caught on Manitowaning Bay, and Lake Manitou did not disappoint with some first-class lake trout action. 

I want to thank everyone who made the weekend so fantastic—all the volunteers, organizers, and, most of all, the anglers who came out and made this a weekend to remember. This event keeps getting better and better every year.

Congratulations to all the winners; I’m looking forward to the next one.

With the beautiful weather on the horizon and the worst part of winter behind us, for me, it is time to focus on walleye fishing. The end of February and the beginning of March is a magical time of year when the finicky winter bite ends and, as if flipping a switch, the walleye go into feeding mode.

Just a reminder for anglers fishing in zone 14, you only have a few more days to target walleye as it closes on March 1.

Walleye will soon become much more aggressive feeders. Gone is the narrow fishing opportunity just before dark. The morning bite, as well as a generally stable afternoon bite, are here.

Location is key to March walleye action. Scout the area for transition zones where rocky/gravel bottom meets a muddy or sandy bottom.

Mid-lake humps, points and sharp drop-offs will be your target area and a great place to start the hunt for these aggressive fish.

I like to drill my holes at the bottom of the drop-offs. I find the fish will congregate here the longest as they move up and down the transition hunting for prey.

During this time of year finding the fish is the key. Once you are on them, you will catch them. A slower, less aggressive presentation is required. I use a more deliberate, gentle jigging motion followed by a one to two-second pause to be the best method. Raise the jig just a foot or two and let it down, stop and repeat. No need to get your bait dancing as you would during the mid-winter slow bite; trust me, they will not hesitate to slam it.

The lure selection is not as important as the location this time of year. I like the old standby, jigging raps, buckshot and an assortment of spoons. Tipping the jig with a minnow head is also optional. Most times, I will forego the minnow head unless I know perch to be in the area. It is just not required to entice the walleye to strike like it was just weeks earlier.

Head out to your favourite lake, look for that rocky shoreline with a point coming off and set up camp. Hold on tight, this can be the best time of year for the big walleye!

Keep your lines tight.