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I’ll be honest, I really know very little about early-season walleye fishing. I have heard stories all my life about the walleye spawn in the early spring. I have consumed as much information as possible online, in print and by word of mouth.

Having said that, the few times I have attempted for walleyes outside of summer have been, well, more boat ride than fishing trip. It’s always a good idea to get your boat out of storage and get the winter’s rust knocked off it before boating seasons begins, I get that, but catching a few fish while doing so would make the excursion much more enjoyable.

My past victories on the walleye grounds have always been when the lake is at summer pool and the conditions require sunscreen. I know it sounds weird to most walleye chasers — I don’t disagree at all. But facts are facts.

Fishing super-deep waters, low and slow, in the summertime, is my go-to for catching plenty of walleyes to justify just about any day planned on the water. Give me a sunny, bluebird-sky day in summer and I’ll bring home enough fish for dinner. Tell me the pre-spawn walleye action is hot in late March and I’ll buzz around the lake aimlessly in hopes of just one bite.

That was the story I repeated over and over — until last week.

I have recorded the day of fishing as a fluke instead of a pattern. You almost have to since it is hard to call one good day of early spring fishing a pattern. I did, however, manage to fool my fair share of toothy critters into taking a ride home with me in my boat’s livewell.

Here’s my story. I arrived at the boat ramped used by winter anglers only to find it was overflowing with trucks pulling boat trailers. There were vehicles everywhere with just enough room to back down the ramp via a one-lane path. Not the easiest put-in for even the most seasoned boaters and perhaps even a nightmare for novices. But I managed to launch the boat and find enough space at the top of the hill to wiggle my truck and trailer off the road and out of everyone’s way.

I had prepared for a long run to my summertime fishing grounds, all summertime ramps were closed since the lake was still at winter pool, and, to be honest, it felt great to be on the water again no matter how long the run was.

On my journey, I passed more than several boats with two anglers casting toward the bank. I could only assume they had the lake figured out and were busy catching fish.

Once I arrived at my familiar spot, I rigged up two rods and began to slow troll my baits in hopes of getting at least one bite. Unlike my failed attempts before, this time was simply different. In fact, it was fantastic. At the upper end of the lake, with nobody around to witness, I was in the middle of a full-blown walleye feeding frenzy.

I was shocked, to say the least. I was getting bites, netting fish, rebaiting hooks, and smack-dab in the middle of one of my best walleye days on the water ever — no matter what season.

When it was time to head in, I made it to the boat ramp to find many others bobbing around waiting their turn to trailer their boat. I quickly realized there was a bass tournament held on the lake that day and apparently the fishing was tough.

Chitchatting at the ramp has generally not a fun time for me in past early-season outings. When asked how my fishing day was, I generally had to spit out the awful-sounding words, “I got skunked.”

This time, when asked, I tried not to smile too wide when I stated things like, “What a day,” and responses such as, “Man, were they hot today.”

For the first time ever, I was on the catching side of an early-season walleye trip. Maybe I was due. Maybe it was luck. Or maybe it’s just fishing. No matter the reason, it happened and I’m still grinning.

Chris Ellis is a veteran of the outdoors industry. His book “Hunting, Fishing and Family from The Hills of West Virginia” is available at Contact him at

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