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When fast action and excellent taste matter, it’s hard to find a better fish than the walleye. Although Indiana isn’t widely known for an abundance of walleye waters, the Hoosier state does offer some fabulous walleye fishing in a number of natural lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
Indiana Walleye Waters
Fisheries biologists have also developed quality walleye fishing in the tailwaters below dams at Monroe, Salamonie, Mississinewa, Cagle’s Mill, and Freeman lakes.
Walleye Fishing Techniques
Anglers new to the walleye game, take heart: you can employ many of same techniques with which you are already familiar and need no special rig. Whether you are a boat or shore angler, you can catch walleye successfully. First, remember these fish-eating hunters prefer the deeper waters of lakes and large rivers but move to shallow flats to feed during darker hours.
Lake or Reservoir Fishing
Fisheries biologists recommend very simple, common fishing techniques for anglers who are just starting to pursue walleye. Dedicated walleye anglers use a variety of tackle, but these specialized rigs are not necessary when you’re just starting out.
Fishing shad imitation or chartreuse colored crank baits along shore lines and points during low-light and dark hours, similar to bass fishing, can produce excellent walleye action. Get your lure down close to the bottom. You can get by with 6- to 8-lb test line, but many prefer to use 10- to 12-lb test line.
You can also use crank baits to troll. Trolling is one of the best ways to cover large areas of water in search of walleye. Since walleye school together, you can generally catch several fish in the same area once you locate a group. Use lead head jigs, fished with or without bait, to work potential areas thoroughly.
The large opaque eyes of a walleye are very efficient at gathering light. They tend to retreat to deep, dark water during the day and move into shallower areas (5-10 ft.) to feed at night. Walleye tend to prefer rock or gravel bottoms, drop off areas and points. Standing timber areas in reservoirs can be a good place to fish for walleye in midsummer.
River and Tailwater Fishing
Similar to lake walleye fishing, crank baits and jigs with twister tails can be successful walleye lures in rivers. Biologists also recommend using a spinner bait, or simply a hook with a night crawler or minnow suspended below a float and drifted in the current. Concentrate your efforts in slack water areas. Walleye will often feed right on the edge between slow water and swift current.
Walleye fishing in tailwaters depends greatly on the discharge from dams, but fishing can be excellent from March through May. When flows from the reservoirs are high, fish migrate upstream toward the dam. Some walleye are also flushed from the reservoir and hang below the dam. Reservoir tailwaters provide ample shore fishing areas.
A member of the perch family, the walleye gets its distinctive name from its glassy or “walleyed” stare, which is caused by a reflective layer in the fish’s retina. This feature helps the fish see and hunt well in low light. Of the dozen fish species that the DNR maintains through stocking, the walleye, according to surveys, is the most popular in terms of what anglers wish to see released in Indiana waters. Other game fish such as striped bass, channel catfish, rainbow trout, muskellunge, sauger, and trout and salmon species, while popular, are relegated to the challenger role.
Brown and green in color, the walleye commonly grows to 8 pounds and is prized for its delectable, white, flaky flesh that’s a dinnertime hit whether fried, baked or grilled. And they grow big. Indiana has two state-record walleyes. Each weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces. The most recent was caught from the Tippecanoe River in Pulaski County in 1977. The original was pulled from the Kankakee River in 1974.
Since walleye natural reproduction is limited in Indiana, to answer the public's wishes, the DNR stocks walleye or hybrid walleye fry and fingerlings in several lakes and one river. The hybrid walleye is a cross between a female walleye and a male sauger, commonly called a saugeye. The hybrids are stocked in two warmer reservoirs, where they survive and grow better than the walleye, which prefers clean and cooler waters. To allow this process to happen, each spring, Indiana fisheries biologists collect about 30 million walleye eggs from Brookville Lake. After the DNR fish hatcheries work their science, these eggs result in about 17 million walleye fry; 1 million fingerlings, 1-2 inches in size; and 60,000 hybrid walleye fingerlings for stocking.
The Indiana DNR studied the movements of walleye at Monroe Lake using radio telemetry. A radio tag was surgically implanted in walleye. The IDNR tracked the tagged fish throughout the entire lake. Find out more information about the tracking project at: