How Do You Catch Walleye in Ice Fishing at Night?
Ice fishing for walleye at night is an excellent fishing adventure for two basic reasons.
First, walleye see very well at night.
The second is that the ice cap on the lake will act as a backlight, so most things in the water will become visible to walleye when they look up towards the ice.
For a fish with excellent night vision, walleye will have little problem seeing potential prey.
How do you catch walleye when ice fishing at night is a good question.
There are a couple of ways to approach the answer.
You can fish with a lure or bait and have relatively good success.
Some anglers will use lures that glow in the dark to attract walleye quickly.
One of the more common approaches is to use several rods and set them up with live minnows.
Add a final rod with a lure jig that is shiny. The backlight from the ice, especially if there is any moonlight, will light up a shiny jig with little effort.
The vibration of the jig along with the lines baited with live minnows will draw in walleye.
In addition to their excellent night vision, the lateral line sensors on the fish will also pick up the vibration and attract walleye.
Where Can I Find Walleye Ice Fishing at Night?
Small to medium juvenile walleye hunt in packs. You will find these swimming around through the water searching for small fish, frogs, and other food options.
That is why the jig in conjunction with a few baited lines will draw in walleye.
The juveniles will seek out any fish that may be in distress and look to feed on it.
So, instead of finding these walleye, you let them find you.
The method you use to fish them is vibration.
You can also consider using a small rattle lure which will make a slight noise as you jig the lure.
If you are overly lucky, the rattle might attract more than just walleye, and you may find yourself happily fighting larger Northern Pike.
Ice Fishing Season
When the ice fishing season begins, you will find the most congregated number of walleye in the deep water where the water temperature is warmer.
But at night, they will leave the deep water to feed in the weed beds.
If you are fishing on a larger lake that has islands, you would want to drill holes just past the shoreline where the weeds begin to disappear.
The deeper water will enable you to target walleye throughout the weed patches and also the roving packs of younger fish.
You are looking for water that is between nine-twelve feet deep at spots where it attaches to a weedy area.
Why? At night, and walleye are night feeders, they will leave the deeper water and head into the weed patches to feed on the smaller fish that rely on the weeds for shelter. They are much better to fish for at night compared to trout.
The nine-twelve foot depth allows you to target walleye who are already hunting.
What Is the Best Time to Ice Fish for Walleye?
The best times to ice fish for walleye is at dusk. Just as the sun is sinking.
That will be early in the afternoon around 4PM due to the decreased amount of light in the northern atmosphere and the shorter days of winter.
Walleye will begin to leave the deeper water around dusk and move into the shallows to begin to feed.
You can begin by targeting them in deeper water to catch those that are moving toward shore, and then change your location to the nine-twelve foot depths that border weedy patches.
By 7-8 pm, the walleye will be mostly onshore and feeding.
They may stay there until dawn.
A fish finder can help you target fish and also to mark their location.
That process allows you to drill holes in the ice where the fishing is best.
A fish finder will also help you spot islands and depth so that you know where the best hole locations will be.
Later in the ice fishing season, the walleye will stop heading onto the shore.
The water there will be too cold, and the smaller baitfish will be elsewhere.
You want to look for structures that are more towards the middle of the lake where they can hang out in the deeper water and then move to the shallower parts of structures to feed.
Islands are a good option as are rocky points where the walleye can remain in warmer water without getting too shallow.
Is It Better to Fish for Walleye at Night?
For the most part yes, and especially during the late fall, winter and early spring months.
First, the days are shorter so there is less daylight during those times of the year.
Second, walleye do most of their hunting and feeding during the darker hours when other fish cannot see as well as the walleye can.
In the summer, when light is more plentiful, the best times to fish for walleye are dusk and dawn.
Are Walleye More Active at Night?
Yes, walleye are most active at night.
The reason is their superior night vision, which allows them to stalk food fish with less chance of being seen.
They also can use their night vision to avoid bigger fish that may eat them.
A good example of a big fish that enjoys walleye is the Northern Pike.
Do Walleyes Bite at Night Ice Fishing?
Walleyes do most of their feeding at night or between sunset and sunrise.
They do this to take advantage of the fact that they see very well at night.
That is not to say that you will not catch walleye during the day.
In fact, some very good targeted walleye fishing can occur during the daytime.
Mostly, this occurs during the summer, but it can also happen for ice fishing too.
The thing to understand is the nature of walleye.
Young fish hunt in packs, but the big, trophy, grumpy walleye is a solitary beast.
These fish will have a perch or den where they will spend most of the day resting.
If you can find that resting spot, you can draw out those big fish during the day or night hours.
A grump, older walleye is a bit territorial.
Dump a shad or minnow in front of their nose, and they will take it down.
What Time of Night Is Best for Walleye Fishing?
For ice fishing, you want to be in the water by a few hours after sunset.
Personally, I hit the ice at sunset and fish the deeper water for a while, and then move into the shallows over structures or along the shore.
Once the feeding starts, you can target walleye throughout the night.
The more heavy fishing should be in the early night hours – 4PM until midnight.
What Colors Do Walleye See at Night?
Walleye have blue and yellow color blindness. That means they do not see blue or yellow tones.
They do go for brighter and warmer tones that are in the red range – reds, oranges, pinks, and white.
If you are targeting walleye at night, head for the orange lures, orange soft plastics, and those with red tones.
Tips for Ice Fishing Walleye at Night
- Use a Fish finder for ice fishing. It will help you see the depth of the water, structures, and fish.
- Use multiple rods with tip-up approach – several with live bait and one with a warm-tone jig.
- Expect to move from deep water to shallow shorelines or structures throughout the night.
- Go warm-tone with reds, oranges, and pinks to attract walleye at night.
- Pack a few stainless steel leaders incase you run into northern pike. You will want to set up the steel leader to counter the 700-plus teeth that northern pike have.