This Saturday, May 5th, marks the beginning of Vermont’s walleye season in waters excluding the Connecticut River which is open year round. This annual event is long waited for many anglers in the Green Mountain State.
Walleye’s spawn in the spring and often times choose to travel miles up feeder rivers to lay their eggs. Lake Champlain has three major river systems on the Vermont side( Winooski, Lamoile and the Missisquoi) that see a fantastic run of eyes starting in April and May, ending the later part of June depending on conditions. This is event is so popular with local anglers that you often hear he phrase, “you could have walked across the river there were so many boats.” This is often times the case, it is nothing to see more than 50 boats on one section of the river at a given time.
We are fortunate to be friends with some of the most knowledgeable Walleye fishermen in the area in my mind. Scott Blair of Vt Sportsman has helped us hone our skills with one of the most effective ways to catch these elusive eyes. It’s simple. All you need is a jig, a barrel swivel and a fathead minnow. Scott uses 6lb mono with a 1.5″ leader, the barrel swivel connecting the two. The swivel will reduce line twist while fishing in the current and increase bites. Depending on the conditions, different weighted jig heads are a must. Scott prefers to use a 1/2 oz jig head when the river has a good amount of current and he slims that down to a 3/8 oz when conditions are right. Once rigged up, Scott simply bounces the bottom. He uses his trolling motor to slowly troll up and down the section of river that he wishes to fish, jigging the minnow over the side with an up and down motion, yes your arm will be sore by the end of the day. “Once that jig hits the bottom jig it up, but slowly let the jig fall, the fish will just be there when you you feel weight, seek it and forget it!” Early season produces some high quality fish for our area, 7-10 lbers. It is not unusual to get a respectable limit (3 fish) in an outing.
Another popular method used is to use the current and some sort of work harness to drag night crawlers downstream. The method will produce fish but is more effective once the water warms up later in the spring, minnows seem to work better with the early spring water temps. Good Luck out there, tight lines!