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Fishermen start angling for walleyes

March 05, 2006|By Bill Anderson

The early part the fishing season is heavily weighted toward trout fishing, or in some cases, crappie fishing.

But in many parts of our region, the interest in walleye fishing is picking up as anglers recognize that these fish are active in the early spring and offer a great fishing opportunity.

Thanks to stocking programs - and in some cases, natural reproduction - this part of the country has some very good river walleye fishing. Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania have initiated aggressive management programs and they have worked.

Walleyes spawn in the very early spring, most notably in below dams. As a result, these areas often get big concentrations of fish. Riffle areas also create suitable habitats for walleyes.

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Edge areas are key habitats to check for river walleyes, just along the side of the main current where the eddies are formed. Sometimes the fish will move well into the middle of the eddies, so you may have to try several area types to find where the fish are holding that day.

If you read books and magazines on walleye fishing, you quickly note that jig fishing is probably the most universal technique. Jigs are used as stand-alone lures or used to present baits like minnows and nightcrawlers.

There are so many types of jig heads and body materials that are used and written about that it gets confusing. The walleye pros vary the jig used by a variety of factors, such as water depth, current and water temperature among other things.

The basic jig presentation concept is based on feeling your lure at all times. In river fishing, this usually means an upstream cast and working the jig back toward you with the current. One really neat presentation is to use a jig fished under a slip bobber, which gives precise depth control.

The slip bobber is a presentation that often shows up in walleye fishing literature. This presentation allows the use of jigs or live bait in a variety of situations. Most pros consider them essential part of the tackle box.

In Maryland, there are two regulations remember about walleye fishing.

On the Potomac River, upstream from Chain Bridge, general walleye regulations include minimum length of 15 inches. But from Jan. 1 through April 15, there is also a maximum length of 20 inches. This regulation is in place to protect the big females as they are engaged in the spawning process.

At Deep Creek Lake, walleye season is closed from March 1 through April 15. Again this is to protect spawning fish.

Walleye fishing is not nearly as popular in our region as fishing for trout, crappies or bass, and may never be. But as walleye fishing opportunities increase, many anglers are learning there are some very good reasons why walleyes are so popular on a national basis.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached via e-mail at bandersn@weekend-sportsman.com

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