Sex, Lies, and Frustration
I apologize for the lack of fishing posts as of late. I promise I have been fishing--just not catching, or at least nothing notable. Within the past few weeks I have been trying to take advantage of the walleye Spawn here in Kansas. I have seen a lot of fish. Several over 6 lbs. However, I have not hooked into a single one. I have fished for walleye over much of my life so while it is a species I target less than others I am by no means a novice. However, most of my fishing has been on natural lakes further north. Since I only have a kayak where I live currently it limits my ability to fish for walleye. The exception is the spawn when the fish are in as little as a few inches of water. Up north it is illegal to fish for walleye during the spawn so this is a relatively new thing for me. But here is my opinion, backed by a little research and personal experience.
Back to this year, again I have easily spent 15+ hours on the water. I have tried jigs, slip bobbers with minnows, curly tail grubs, crank baits, and an assortment of flies including clousers and wooly buggers. The standard walleye patterns pus a few for good measure. No fish. When I moved down here anglers told me how during the spawn the fish would attack lures to defend their nests. I am going to call this myth one. The truth it seems is the fish don't give a fuck about anything other than spawning. Seriously, I have personally witnessed dozens of occasions where the lure/fly passed right by the nose of spawning fish, no interest in the world except the spawn. Perhaps this is a myth carried over from bluegill and other species, who will defend their nests voraciously. Second myth, the spawn is a great time to fish for walleye. Again I am calling bullshit on this one. In perhaps the cannonical guide to walleye fishing, Walleye Wisdom, by In-Fisherman with contributions for Al Linder, Gary Roach, and Doug Stange--all angling giants in their own right, the authors note the following angling opportunities for walleye: Pre-Spawn as largely neutral, with small males slightly more aggressive; Spawn as a negative opportunity, with very poor fishing conditions with feeding minimal to nonexistent. The only exception they note is walleye in river systems who continue to feed throughout the spawn, perhaps due to greater energy expenditure caused by fighting a current; Post-Spawn, negative to neutral. My thoughts on this are many of the fish that are caught by anglers during the spawn are either pre or post-spawn fish, as individuals with spawn at different times over the course of a week or two. That being said the fishing has never been phenomenal. I have never witnessed nor heard of anyone doing exceptionally well. A fish is picked up here and there but it is never non-stop action. So why the attraction, why so many anglers on the banks? Partially due to myth I believe and secondly, and the reason I will keep fishing the spawn is it is the greatest opportunity to catch a walleye from shore. They may not feeding much, but they are easily within casting distance and the opprotunity exists to catch not only a walleye in 2 feet of water, but a big walleye. At the end of the day thats what draws us. The fish are there for sex, we may be there due to lies, and the fishing is frustrating: but the hope of that 8 lb+ walleye will continue to draw us back, year after year.