This spring on lakes across the northern half of Minnesota and Wisconsin, ice cover has postponed much more than mere fishing openers and family vacations. Up until last week, as much as 20-inches of ice remained on hundreds of top walleye lakes. Just outside the mouths of rivers and streams, legions of walleyes awaited favorable conditions—water temperatures in the low to mid 40s and an optimal apogee of the sun—before migrating en mass into spawning substrate.
Meanwhile, just outside these areas (many spawning sites have been closed to fishing this season), anglers experienced incredible action, with 20 to 50 fish days happening regularly.
Finally, late last week everything came together, generating historic river runs of spawning walleyes. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, numbers of walleyes in a variety of well known rivers were at all time highs, potentially producing prodigious numbers of offspring.
Depicted in this rarely seen underwater footage are large packs of walleyes, as they push upriver into shallow spawning habitat. Tens of thousands of mature 3- to 10-pound (and larger) fish moved this past week into small spawning rivers, in search of suitable gravel and rock rubble substrate.
Image and video courtesy Cory Schmidt