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Fishing Walleye from Shore: Tips to Guarantee Your Success

Written by: Pete D
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If there’s a dominant technique for walleye, it’s definitely trolling. But that doesn’t mean that fishing from the shore can’t produce numbers - and trophy - wallies.

All it takes is the right know-how and some careful planning.

If you want to know more about catching walleye from the shore, keep reading!

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Tips for Walleye Fishing From Shore for Spring, Summer, and Fall

Spring

fishing walleye from shore in the spring

Shallow streams and rivers typically warm far more quickly in the spring than larger bodies of water like lakes - or the Great Lakes. And walleye that have been overwintering in deep water to escape the cold are hungry and looking for warmer water.

Males and females alike will migrate to rivers, creeks, and other smaller tributaries, where the sun is warming the water and prey items are starting to come alive. Cold water may not be much of a problem for walleye, but the prey they eat can take the cold, and as the sun warms the water, the dinner bell rings!

Veteran walleye anglers know that spring is prime time to cast from the shore, and rather than being at a disadvantage, anglers who hit water that’s impassible to boats can quickly catch their limit.

Look for shallow water

Shallow water gets warm fast, and rocks and other heat sinks near it transmit even more of the sun’s thermal energy to the water, producing much higher temperatures than you’ll find in a deep, wide lake.

Sandbars, rocky rivers, and shallow streams can all be good bets: just look for shallow, warm water, get your waders ready, and go!

Look for a slow current

As meltwater surges, you’d think walleye would wait in ambush for prey items - but that’s just not how they work.

As Bill Shimota, a professional walleye angler, explains, that’s not something walleye like. They’ll move shallow, looking for easier swimming as well as eddys and other current breaks where baitfish will collect.

Remember, walleye are active hunters rather than ambush predators, and they’ll swim relentlessly in search of food. When you find bait fish clustered in the lee of some rocks, a small island, or a sandbar, you’ll know the walleye won’t be far behind!

Summer

fishing walleye from shore in the summer

Summer can be a tough season to fish walleye from the shore - unless you know where to look!

As water temperatures climb, walleye tend to spread out in lakes and move deeper, explaining why trolling is so effective.

But there are places that are reachable from shore where walleye collect as well, and knowing these is the secret plenty of wallie fanatics don’t want to share.

Look for spillways

Spillways provide three things that summer walleye are looking for: highly oxygenated water, excellent hunting topography, and lots and lots of bait fish.

As the summer sun bakes the lake water, it decreases its oxygen content. And just as high altitude robs you of your energy due to lower oxygen levels, that warm water steals strength from walleye.

They’re looking for places that have lots of turbulence, like spillways, that mix oxygen into the water, enriching the balance and giving them more energy to hunt.

Spillways also typically offer ideal hunting grounds for wallies: deep, steep drop-offs immediately adjacent to shallows covered by weed beds full of prey. And where the food stays, so do the walleye.

Finally, the bait fish are looking for that oxygenated water, too, as well as the prey items like insects that get washed into the lake by the spillway. 

When you’re targeting summer walleye from the shore, spillways are the way to go, no question about it.

Fall

fishing walleye from shore in the fall

For walleye, fall is spring all over again. And hitting the water from the shore with a good pair of insulated waders is almost a sure thing - if you know what to look for.

As the days grow shorter and the water cools off, prey items like baitfish will be looking for warm water, and that means shallows with plenty of heat sinks to keep the water temperature higher than it should be.

Look for shallow water

Prey will migrate from deep lakes into shallow tributaries, looking for water that's skinny enough to be warmed by the sun. And the walleye, cold-resistant though they are, will be in hot pursuit.

Just as in the spring, target sandbars, rocks, and shallow water.

Look for slow current

Baitfish need a break from fighting the current, and whatever structure or cover provides them sanctuary will attract walleye on the hunt.

Logs that block the flow, creating an eddy; rocks that create a large lee; and sharp points that create sluggish flow are all good places to cast for walleye in fall.

Walleye Rigs for Shore Fishing

Bottom bounders and other trolling rigs just won’t work well from shore, so you need to rethink your tackle choices and adapt.

We’ve covered this topic in-depth before, so if you want to know, check out this article:

The Best Walleye Rigs for Three-Season Fishing: Our Favorites Explained

First of all, walleye are primarily sight predators, and that means clear water is their preferred habitat. And, of course, their nearly miraculous low-light vision means that dawn, dusk, and early evening are great times to fish for them.

But it also means that you should choose natural colors and presentations when rigging up for walleye from the shore, avoiding the day-glo colors that work so well in murky or stained water.

Instead, be sure to match the hatch and provide realistic patterns and hues.

Crankbaits

You won’t be trolling from the shore, but that doesn’t mean your crankbaits should stay at home!

My top choice for casting into and around rocky rivers is a square-billed crankbait like the wLure Minnow. They offer life-like colors and patterns that walleye key in on, and the square bill is really designed to impact rocks, logs, and other cover and create the erratic darting action that triggers strikes.

wLure Minnow Crankbait for Bass Fishing Bass Lure Jerkbait Fishing Lure (HC15KB, with Tackle Box)

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As an added bonus, these multi-packs work out to about $3 a lure, so if you get hung up, miscast, or lose a lure or two by some other means, you're not out the usual $8 you might spend on a name-brand crankbait.

Especially in the summer, when you’ll be working spillways and deeper water adjacent to weedbeds, a deep diver like the Cotton Cordell Wally Diver is a must-have. Cast out and retrieved up the slope and over live weed beds, it’s a walleye killer.

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The Loten Rig (A Modified Slip Sinker Rig)

The Loten rig is a little unusual, but give it a chance - it’ll win you over!

loten walleye rig

Essentially a Slip Sinker Rig, the Loten Rig adds a jig head, stinger hook, and an inflated worm to create a buoyant live bait that walleye can’t resist. It’s perfect for throwing from shore into shallow, calm spots that hold bait fish and hungry walleye.

To assemble the Loten Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Slide a slip sinker onto your main line. I strongly recommend the Lindy No-Snagg, but a standard slip sinker will work.
  2. Crimp a large split shot to your line to act as a sinker stop. You’ll need three to four feet of line between this stop and your hook.
  3. Using a Palomar Knot, attack a ¼-ounce jig head. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  4. Attack a pre-tied stinger hook.
  5. Using a syringe, inject your nightcrawler with air.
  6. Run the head onto your jig, and snug it up to the jig head.

If you want a standard Slip Sinker Rig, tie on a #2 circle hook instead of a jig head.

Drop-Shot Rig

Drop Shot Rig

The Drop Shot Rig is one of the most effective ways to present a soft plastic lure at a precise distance from the bottom, and rigged properly with a drop shot weight, it’s very hard to snag on rocky bottoms.

Easy to tie and quick to assemble, it’s a winner for walleye.

To assemble a Drop Shot Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Using a Palomar Knot, attach a #2 Gamakatsu circle hook.
  2. Make the tag end long, approximately 18 inches to 3 feet. This length will control the depth of your presentation.
  3. Wet your knot and tighten it.
  4. Run the tag end back through the eye of your hook. This will create a long dropper below the hook.
  5. Attach a Lindy No-Snagg to the bottom using another Palomar Knot.
  6. Wet your second knot, tighten it, and trim the remaining tag end.

The Carolina Float Rig

carolina float rig

The Carolina Rig is rightly famous in the bass fishing world, but by adding a float to the mix, you can transform it into a walleye-catching machine!

The resulting Carolina Float Rig is deadly for three reasons. The combination of a bullet weight and bead creates an enticing vibration that attracts hungry walleye. Second, it’s easy to cast, enabling long, accurate pitches that let you work the shallows for spring and fall walleye without running them off. And finally, the float buoys your live bait, keeping it right where hunting fish can see it best.

That’s an almost unbeatable combination for worms and leeches.

To assemble a Carolina Float Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Slide a bullet weight onto your main line.
  2. Follow it with a bead. 
  3. Using a Uni Knot, attach a barrel swivel.
  4. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  5. Cut 18 to 24 inches of line. The length of this leader will determine the depth of your presentation.
  6. Attach a float stop. The position of this stop will determine where the foam float is placed on your leader, affecting the position of your hook and bait.
  7. Slide a foam float onto your leader
  8. Using a Palomar Knot, attach a #2 Gamakatsu circle hook.
  9. Wet the knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  10. Using a Uni Knot, attach the other end of the leader to the barrel swivel.
  11. Wet the knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.

Final Thoughts

Fishing walleye from shore, especially in spring and fall, can be exhilarating, but only if you know where to go and what to throw.

We hope that you've learned something from this article today, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below!

Don't forget to check out our top recommendations for walleye fishing gear & tackle:

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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