Walleye Senses

Constantly profitable walleye fishing is not the results of black magic, flukes, or luck. It may be realized by means of a fundamental course of that is quantifiable and predictable. It is also comparatively easy, although it does take effort and time to grasp.

In-Fisherman’s educating system has held to those tenets for many years, and taught numerous anglers find out how to catch extra fish and have extra enjoyable. Sadly, the premise for sustained walleye fishing success usually will get neglected, overshadowed by the identical components which have made attaining such success tough for generations of anglers.

The issue is, too many anglers search shortcuts to success — a magic lure, secret bait, lethal new shade, or a breakthrough jigging movement walleyes cannot resist. Aiding and abetting such damaging needs are event winners who proclaim a particular lure propelled them to victory, together with tv hosts and YouTube tipsters touting silver-bullet options to way more advanced eventualities.


Temptations resembling these distract us from the truth that sizzling lures, baits, and even dependable fishing patterns are at finest solely items of the general puzzle. The muse for placing collectively fish-catching shows — then deploying them within the strike zone — is a strong understanding of the walleye’s fundamental nature.

Walleye Senses

Imaginative and prescient

Walleyes depend on eyesight to navigate and seize prey. Their daytime imaginative and prescient is stellar, but it surely really shines after sundown. The walleye eye is superb, blessing the predator with unimaginable night time imaginative and prescient, second in freshwater solely to its cousin, the sauger.

The attention is massive, permitting the pupil — the light-gathering a part of the attention — to assemble as a lot mild as potential. No creature can see in whole darkness, however even scant starlight supplies sufficient illumination for walleyes to stalk their prey far under the floor.

A reflective layer on the retina, referred to as the tapetum lucidum, provides walleyes one other benefit when the lights exit. A principal adaptation for night time imaginative and prescient present in nocturnal animals together with cats, deer, raccoons, and another fish, this layer concentrates mild when it enters the attention.

Imaginative and prescient begins when mild passes from the pupil opening by means of the cornea after which to the lens, which focuses the picture. Mild then reaches two sorts of light-sensitive cells within the retina, rods and cones.

Cone cells detect shade when uncovered to sunlight. Rod cells distinguish shades of grey and permit imaginative and prescient when daylight is not current. Walleye and sauger eyes comprise a bigger proportion of rods than the eyes of perch, shiners, and different fish which can be most lively through the day.

The tapetum lucidum is positioned within the decrease portion of the retina’s deepest later. This physiology means that walleyes see lures and baits transferring above them extra clearly than objects transferring under them. Likewise, fishing experiences counsel it is best to place lures barely above the sonar returns of fish. Nonetheless, there are occasions when shortly dropping a bait under eye stage can set off a response, resembling when a walleye follows a jigging spoon upward within the water column however is hesitant to strike. Permitting the lure to plummet downward may cause an in any other case cautious walleye to hurry down and seize it.

Because of their night time imaginative and prescient, walleyes usually feed underneath the duvet of darkness as a result of they’ll see higher than the prey they pursue. This explains why walleye fishing at night time is productive year-round on clear lakes and reservoirs. Occasions when mild ranges change quickly, resembling round twilight, are additionally legendary for sparking walleye exercise, as are waves or clouds that scale back mild penetration.

Walleye SensesLongtime touring professional and In-Fisherman confidante Keith Kavajecz provides observations on these golden moments, in addition to the connection between forage, water situations, and walleye habits. “Prime-time bites are extra pronounced the place meals is plentiful and walleyes have the posh of ready for a simple meal,” he says. “If meals is scarce or there are many walleyes, the fish are hungry and eat all day lengthy, each time they get the prospect.” In the same vein, he notes how low-vis situations resembling heavy algae blooms and tannic-stained water set off daylight feeding forays. “Daytime exercise will increase the place night time imaginative and prescient is minimized as a result of poor mild penetration,” he says.

Walleyes additionally possess shade imaginative and prescient, based mostly on evaluation of the construction of the light-sensitive cones. Scientists inform us walleyes ought to see purple, orange, and yellow one of the best, adopted by inexperienced. Principle additionally suggests walleyes see blue and violet much less nicely, and these colours could even seem black.

Kavajecz is a agency believer that shade is a significant piece of the walleye-catching puzzle. “They definitely key on colours,” he explains. “However there’s extra to it than matching the forage base. There are such a lot of variables that each time you place a components collectively, you miss probably productive shade patterns since you’re not open-minded sufficient to strive them.”

He depends on experimentation to dial in one of the best colours in the intervening time. “I preserve throwing colours at them,” he says. “Even when a sample begins to take form, I preserve testing different colours to verify I’ve one of the best mixture for the situations.”

Walleye anglers have used phosphorescent, or glow, finishes for walleyes for many years. Glow finishes signify a type of luminescence — the method by which a fabric emits seen mild when subjected to an vitality supply resembling a digital camera flash.

Kavajecz advises factoring glow into your methods, however says to decide on glow colours rigorously. “Not all lures glow within the shade you see on them in daylight,” he says. “The JJ Mac Muffin sample of Moonshine Lures’ Shiver Minnow, for instance, is purple, chartreuse, and white, with purple dots, however from my observations, it glows blue in deep water.

“Glow shade makes an enormous distinction on some lakes,” he says. “On Lake of the Woods, purple glow is sizzling. On others, inexperienced glow is the deal. And on fisheries together with Lake Erie and Sakakawea, I’ve seen blue glow baits outfish each different shade. It isn’t essentially associated to what they’re feeding on, both, as a result of blue glow catches fish have been walleyes are consuming perch and silver-sided baitfish. So right here, too, experimentation is vital to constant success.”

Lures handled with UV finishes that fluoresce when struck by ultraviolet mild are a comparatively new pattern on the walleye scene. Whereas some fish can see UV mild, science tells us that its short-wavelength rays fall exterior the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum seen to people and walleyes. Nonetheless, many astute and revered anglers report elevated catches when utilizing optically brightened UV baits, notably in low-light and low-vis conditions.

Kavajecz is not certainly one of them. “I’ve experimented with UV and it makes an enormous distinction for salmon,” he says. “However I have not seen it for walleyes, even when trolling the identical colours in UV and non-UV finishes side-by-side.” However he does not rule out UV as an element, both. “I am a believer within the energy of confidence,” he says. “In case you have confidence in UV finishes, you in all probability catch extra fish with them.”

Listening to

Sound waves in water and air are produced by particles rebounding after compression, imparting directional vitality to neighboring particles. As a result of molecules in water are nearer collectively than in air, directional vitality is transferred from one to a different practically 5 instances sooner under the floor than above it, making sound a key part of the underwater world.

Though sound waves move by means of a fish’s physique with little impact, as a result of a fish’s density is almost the identical as water’s, they do trigger vibrations within the calcium carbonate earbones, or otoliths, positioned on both aspect of the cranium. Therefore, fish acknowledge acquainted patterns of frequencies as sounds, simply as we hear airborne sound waves, they usually use these sounds to detect the presence of predators and prey.

Walleyes lack exterior and center ears, however their internal ears are related in construction and performance to these present in people. In consequence, walleyes hear nicely underneath water, although not fairly as keenly as species resembling catfish and minnows.

Science tells us walleyes hear underwater sound waves within the vary of 100 to 2,000 hertz (Hz; cycles per second). Their listening to vary consists of most sound produced by rattling crankbaits and different comparatively loud lures. Excessive-pitched rattles are a novelty within the underwater world, and infrequently arouse curiosity, compelling walleyes to check for identification and edibility by biting.

“I completely imagine in utilizing rattles for walleyes, notably in crankbaits,” Kavajecz says. “Having helped design lures like Berkley’s Flicker Shad and Flicker Minnow, I have been a celebration to intensive testing that satisfied me rattles increase catch charges.” He notes that not all rattles are created equal, nevertheless. “The high-pitched rattle of a number of small glass or plastic beads is way simpler normally than the sound created by one massive, clunky bead thumping round in a rattle chamber. Nonetheless, a low-pitch efficiency is healthier than no rattle.”

He isn’t as satisfied about including rattles to most different shows, although he concedes that rattles may improve the sonic attraction of spoons and jigs fished with lively, constant strokes throughout vertical jigging.

Walleye SensesLateral-Line

Hair cells contained in the tiny neuromasts of the walleye’s lateral line detect low-frequency sound waves from 1 to 200 Hz  (notice the slight overlap with listening to) and sends these messages to the mind. To assist fish pinpoint the vibrations’ supply and site, some sensory cells are oriented in a single course, whereas others face the other method.

Whereas hard-wobbling crankbaits and churning spinner blades definitely produce loads of vibrations, different seemingly silent lures resembling jigs and flat spoons ship out stress waves detectable by the walleye’s delicate lateral line. In murky water, at night time, and in different low-visibility conditions, a walleye could sense a lure’s presence earlier than it sees it. “Even baits that appeal to consideration by interesting to a walleye’s different senses want the fitting vibration to seal the take care of a strike,” Kavajecz provides.

Dialing in vibration has and at all times shall be crucial with high-action lures like crankbaits, however he says it is a main consideration when deciding on softbait tippings, too. “The rise in choices of actions tails together with varied paddle, ripple, and curl-tail selections permits us to fine-tune tail-beat vibrations like by no means earlier than,” he says. “Do not simply have a look at tail measurement and form; take note of plastic density and stiffness, too.”

Scent and Style

As a result of they have to detect molecules of drugs dissolved in water, a walleye’s senses of odor and style are extra carefully linked than people. Whereas this makes it laborious for researchers to find out which stimuli they reply to, there’s little doubt scent and taste play a task in feeding habits. A fish’s chemoreception (together with each odor and style) can be crucial for avoiding predators, finding fish of the identical species, coordinating spawning time, and homing in to residence areas and spawning websites.

Judging by the design of its olfactory organ, a walleyes’ sense of odor in all probability falls someplace between channel catfish and members of the sunfish household, and walleyes are doubtless capable of detect amino acids in a dilution of a number of components per 10 million. Research have proven walleyes reply favorably to varied amino acids and salt options, whereas fish mucus, essences of walleye physique components, and different amino acids repel them. It is no shock that walleyes odor nicely, contemplating that livebait is usually the one reply to a tricky chew and finicky fish. Style is likewise essential, usually spurring the choice whether or not to spit a bait or swallow it.

“On scent and style, I am extra involved with not repulsing fish than I’m triggering them to chew,” says Kavajecz. “A walleye could be very fast about sucking issues in and blowing them out. It is essential {that a} bait does not style dangerous after they take it in, in order that they’re keen to carry it of their mouth lengthy sufficient for me to set the hook.”

Berkley Gulp! and PowerBait softbaits provide his favourite scents and flavors. “I like PowerBait’s impregnated scent with faster-moving shows, whereas the water-soluble resolution in Gulp! excels at slower speeds,” he says, including that he usually provides a dollop of Gulp! Marinade to a bag of Gulp! and lets the concoction relaxation in a single day to “jazz it up a little bit.”

Various anglers marinate or in any other case deal with hardbaits resembling Jigging Rap and Shiver Minnnow-style swimming and gliding lures with Marinade and different scents. “It isn’t as a lot of an element for me with some of these lures, but it surely does not damage, and earlier than the scent washes off, it may trigger walleyes to carry onto a lure longer than untreated baits,” Kavajecz says.

Placing It Collectively

In the long run, Kavajecz is satisfied a sound understanding of walleye biology — and the power to use it to real-life fishing conditions — helps put extra fish within the boat. “One of many neglected sensory components I take into account extra of a ‘sixth sense’ is the walleye’s intuition to assault injured prey,” he provides. “This is usually a huge issue when deciding whether or not to match the hatch or provide fish one thing utterly completely different than what they’re feeding on. For instance, when baitfish are plentiful and meals is simple to return by, you’ll be able to drag a ‘crawler or leech in entrance of their noses they usually will not contact it. However when one thing completely different comes by that is clearly wounded, like an erratic crankbait or hopping, darting glidebait, they can not resist.”

Kavajecz reviews numerous circumstances of overfed ‘eyes pouncing on simple pickings. “I’ve even seen it occur the place you’ve gotten 20-foot-thick bands of smelt on sonar and walleyes are actually stuffed to the gills, however they nonetheless crush a lure that mimics distressed prey, even with two or three baitfish protruding of their mouths. That is keying on one thing within the walleye’s psyche that goes method past the conventional senses.”

*Dan Johnson is a frequent contributor to In-Fisherman publications and director of All Creation Out of doors Media.

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