It can get downright frustrating to not have a boat to fish from. Whether it’s in the shop or you just don’t own one, it can make catching fish tough. Luckily, if you have access to public land (or private) that is on a river or lake, you can still catch walleyes.
Make sure that you have chosen a fishing line that is strong enough for the occasion. Unlike when you are vertical jigging walleyes, shore fishing requires you to get up close and personal with all the structure on the water’s edge. This could be weeds, rocks or stumps. Maybe even all of them so you need to have the line to land the fish.
That brings up another great point, don’t forget the net! It isn’t fun trying to drag a fish up onto a steep shoreline or even a dock without one.
The biggest consideration of how you will fish from shore is how active the fish are. If they are lethargic, you won’t catch them casting most likely. If they are active, either method will produce a nice catch. That being mentioned, there are two main methods for how to walleye fish from shore:
Casting for walleyes can be super effective at certain times of the year. Walleyes like to spawn in shallow water meaning you can often find them near the shorelines during this time. This is especially true at dusk and dawn.
When I cast for walleyes, I tend to use a spinning reel but a baitcaster will work fine as well. As mentioned before, use a heavier than normal line. A longer rod is also beneficial both for casting distance as well as lifting fish over shoreline cover and into the net.
One of the most popular lure choices when casting for walleyes is the crankbait. When choosing your model, make sure that you won’t be running too deep. It’s a lot different casting towards deep water and reeling back to the shallows than it is from a boat.
Another hot newer option is the swimbait. There are hundreds of different styles, sizes, and colors already on the market. Their soft, more lifelike profile makes them something fish really seem to go for.
Some other great lure options would be spinners, spoons, or a jig with a plastic tail or live bait.
Another awesome way to catch walleyes from shore is still fishing. For this approach, you will be using live bait. For the most part, this will be minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.
There are several different setups that can be used for this type of fishing. I will just mention what I consider the best walleye rigs for shore fishing.
My favorite is the 3-way rig. It consists of a 3-way swivel attached to the main line. On one side is a line about a foot long with a sinker attached. The other side is about a 3-foot line with a hook or floating jig. Then, of course, you tip it with your bait of choice.
On the Wolf River, this is an absolutely deadly tactic. The force of the river keeps the bait just up off the bottom where the walleyes are cruising through.
Pro Tip: you can inject your nightcrawler with air to help it rise up even more in the water column since they don’t swim like leeches or minnows
With this setup, you cast out and let the back sink to the bottom. Then you prop your rod up and tighten up any slack line. Now, just watch for a bite!
Another great option used for a little different application is the sliding sinker rig. To make this work, you first add a sinker to the main line through the eye, not tied on. Next, tie on a barrel swivel. Finally, tie on about a 3-foot chunk of line with your hook of choice on the other end.
This rig provides the ability for the bait to slide through the sinker so the fish can’t feel that resistance. It works great when fish are super finicky. Just leave the bail open so they can take line.
When fishing this way, bites are tougher to detect with a spinning reel since the fish needs to be able to take line. Thus, you need to use a baitcaster with a clicker. You could also use an electronic strike indicator or the trick of affixing a bobber to the main line, between the eyes if using a spinning combo.
Closing Thoughts on Shore Fishing For Walleye
I have a ton of experience catching walleye from the bank. I grew up in an area with an amazing walleye run every year. As a boy, I was on the shore every day casting away (didn’t have the patience to still fish!).
Just because you don’t have a boat, doesn’t mean you can’t still produce a day’s catch. Grab your map and find some public water near you that has walleye. Then, get out there and test these methods. Happy fishing!