A post on a local board stirred up a sleeping giant in my anglers brain...
Hmmmm, there is more to these tasty critters than anyone in the fly world gives em credit for. Until I started typing up this response I never actually thought about the scope and depth of my walleye on the fly experience.
It has rekindled a need in me to explore this species more in 2010!
Anyone care to share?
here is my response from the other board:
Walleye on the fly
This is a pretty cool topic actually...
Walleye might be the most misunderstood and underappreciated of all fresh water fly rod fish. IMHO.
I have had on and off success with walleye on the fly for the better part of three decades.
When I was a grubby little river rat growing up in Hudson, WI(on the St. Croix River) I used to just kick ass on the walleye during the 'Shad' fly hatch...some form of now long gone Hex. I remember we would get really excited when those flies would start showing up around the 4th of July. Sometimes getting so thick that they had to bring out the snowplows to clear the old blue I-94 bridge.
I recall being in the dug-out of the now gone little league field down by the boat launch in Hudson...and me and my pals eyeing up the thick spiderwebs in the mouldy corners of the dugout and seeing the mayflies and winking at each other between innings as if to say -
"Meet me under the Swing Bridge...at mid-night...it's gonna be a blood bath!"
At first my buddies and myself would fish the surface feeding walleyes twitching small rapalas and could generally get a limit in a few hours of after-midnight fishing around the lighted bridges and dikes making up the waterfront in The Hud.
Then I figured out that my yellow buggy whip Eagle Claw fly pole (as we called it then) would work...with big, cheap China tied flies that came in circular plastic boxes up at Mullers True Value Hardware...really gaudy assortments that looked like butterflies.
But the walleye found them richly enticing when poorly cast into the shadow lines and feebly twitched. Satisfying swirls came tight to headshaking butterballs and I could easily outlimit my spin-head pals much to their chagrin.
I actually was a walleye wizard long before I ever broke into the trout on a fly ranks...and puzzlingly never considered those successes as qualifying me as a real fly fisher.
Years later in the BWCA and Quetico I had off-the grid experiences again with Hex hatch walleye in the Solstice gloaming...paddling away from camp merriment after midnight to acres of swirling fish greedily harvesting big crunchy spinners from the surface.
After I came up with a fly called The Chronic Leech...
...walleye became almost too easy! Anytime the mayflies started hatching on a walleye lake and the gear anglers started to belly-ache about how the walleye could not be caught until the hatch was over I just grinned...and came in to the fish-cleaning house in the wee hours with a stringer full - all bloated with wriggler nymphs...all taken in an almost boring taking_candy_from_a_baby method of casting out...waiting for a minute and then starting a painfully slow handtwist retrieve and slow rod lift until I got a wiggle and then the satisfying full rod bender...
So easy a caveman could do it as long as he was willing to go out at midnight! And many times I'd catch a fish on every cast.
And that is just the bug eaters!
White marabou muddler minnows on floating lines fished at dusk and just after dark on the sandbars down around my namesake rivertown (Afton on the St. Croix)...wow! And on the Wisconsin River down in Southern Wisco the same thing - Sauk Prairie and the sandbars after dark wet wading and waiting for the walleye to move up onto the structure...then a slow surface struggle...a minnow feeding or wallowing on the surface snacked up by a fatty 'eye in a subtle swirl.
Then there are the crayfish eaters in the rocky riffles of boulder strewn rivers like the Kettle, Snake, Yellow, Jump, Namekagon, West Fork of the Chippewa...
June in the middle of the daytime...right in the fast and deep rapids tucked behind boulders just waiting to pound a deeply scuttled fly. Better than brown trout I tell ya! And oh what fighters those current fish are.
Anyone who says that walleye fight like a wet sock has never tangled with a rough and tumble river perch!
I have actually gotten away from targeting walleye lately...shame on me I am reminded in typing up this response. Images come flooding back and my taste buds tingle as I think about crispy golden brown fillets curling up like lobster in hot bacon grease.
There was also a productive time in my Montana State days when we would go up to Canyon Ferry and catch big walleye after big walleye wet wading on windswept shores employing the old Wisconsin River white muddler minnow technique...
The fish you see in the images above are by-product catches from this past season(my notes show we boated 27 walleye by accident while fishing musky!). Musky streamers get pounded by big walleye in June around submerged timber. Walleye - not the light-shunning, bottom-hugging variety we all think of. No! More like a big top end predator swirling up from below to take a HangTime streamer or a Beauford as a musky would.
Right up in the upper water in plain sight. ROAR!
Yes, misunderstood and underappreciated indeed