How to Catch Walleye in the Current

How to Catch Walleye in the CurrentWalleyes are typically found in larger, slower-moving rivers and tend to be restless, changing position often. During high water, walleyes move shallow into newly flooded vegetation. During low water, they move deep into holes and channels. River walleye don't like fast current or slack water, so the key to finding them is to look for moderate current. Such behavioral differences mean fishing for walleye in current requires a different approach than fishing in still water. Four basic approaches can produce results throughout the year.


Difficulty: Moderate

Vertical Jigging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Several 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jigs
  • 3- to 4-inch curly tail grubs
  • Minnows
  • Several minnow baits or shad baits
  • Three-way swivel
  • 3-oz. pencil-lead weight
  • Anchor
Step 1
Locate slower moving water along the margins of the main river channel. Vertical jigging is ideal in depths between 10 to 20 feet.
Step 2
Tip a 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jig with a minnow and drop it straight below the boat to the river bottom. Twitch the jig along the bottom while drifting downstream. Keep your line as close to vertical as possible. Because of changing currents or wind, you may have to use an electric trolling motor on the boat to keep your line vertical.
Step 3
Experiment with different lures and colors. Because of the poor visibility typical found in larger rivers, brighter colors such as chartreuse, chart green and fluorescent orange generally to work best. Glow-in-the-dark colors also work well. Other lures to try while vertical jigging include blade baits and weight-forward spinners.

Weighted Trolling

Step 1
Tie a three-way swivel to your main line. Attach two monofilament leaders to the remaining eyelets of the three-way swivel, one 2 feet long and the other 4 feet long.
Step 2
Attach a 3-oz. pencil-lead sinker to the end of the 2-foot leader and a shallow-running minnow bait or shad bait to the end of the 4-foot leader.
Step 3
Start trolling upstream along the edges of holes, runs, drop-offs, or weed lines at a speed that lends good action to your plug, usually between 1 to 2 mph.
Step 4
Let out your line until you can feel the pencil weight ticking bottom, then reel up a couple cranks.

Rocky Shorelines

Step 1
Locate a length of rocky bank, which is common around piers, bridge pilings and roads.
Step 2
Anchor upstream from the structure and cast a 1/8- to 1/4-oz. jig tipped with a soft 3- to 4-inch curly tail grub down to it. Hop the jig back upstream, keeping it within a few feet of the bank.
Step 3
Cover the area directly downstream from the boat. After this is complete, let out another 10 to 15 feet of line and repeat. In this way, you will thoroughly cover the length of shoreline.


Step 1
Anchor upstream of a wing dam with moderate current and clean stone. Anchor close to shore.
Step 2
Cast downstream, past the wing dam, using the same jig as for fishing rocky shoreline. Using hops a couple of inches long, retrieve the jig back over the top of the wing dam. Be alert for strikes on top of or just upstream of the wing dam. Repeat this process until that section of the wing dam is thoroughly covered.
Step 3
Reposition the boat 10 to 15 feet toward the center of the river and repeat. Do this until you have covered the entire length of the wing dam.

Tips & Warnings

During cold weather, slow your retrieve and trolling speed.
When anchoring, be careful during high water, and always anchor off the bow.

Article Written By Isaac Billings

Residing in northern Michigan, Isaac Billings began writing in 2009, with articles appearing on eHow, Trails and A wilderness EMT-paramedic and wilderness instructor, Billings enjoys writing about the outdoors, running, health and nutrition. He holds an Associates of Applied Science in emergency medicine from North Central Michigan College.

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