As water warms, walleye fishing heats up

As table fare, walleye are at the top of most anglers' lists. They are not only tasty, but they grow large enough that a few fish can provide a family meal. (The state record walleye is more than 13 pounds.) Right now, as the water -- and the air -- warms up, is the best time to catch them. Walleye move over shallow points, flats, and underwater roadbeds to feed in May and early June. While fishing from a boat is the preferred method, walleye can be caught at this time by wading. Look for fish in water 3 to 15 feet deep. Breezy days are better than calm ones.

These post-spawn walleye are often aggressive and can be caught trolling with crank baits or drifting a jig and nightcrawler combination. Jig size varies depending on the amount of wind and water depth, but usually a 1/8- or ¼-ounce jighead will do the trick. Popular lure colors include chartreuse, red, orange, pink, and white.

Many of Kansas’ 24 reservoirs provide good walleye fishing. Much of this success can be attributed to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' (KDWP) aggressive walleye stocking program. In addition, length limits allow walleye to grow to reproductive age, and in some reservoirs, prime habitat produces excellent walleye populations year after year. Currently, Cedar Bluff, Cheney, Kanopolis, Pomona, and Wilson reservoirs appear to be the best bets, but this could change almost daily. And anglers shouldn't overlook smaller impoundments and other reservoirs.

The following is a list of Kansas walleye lakes that are currently experiencing good or better walleye fishing, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP):
Region 1 (northwest, northcentral)

  • Cedar Bluff Reservoir -- Walleye fishing at this lake is good, and recent reports have anglers averaging three legal-length fish per trip. The length limit is 18 inches, and harvested fish are averaging 19-22 inches.
  • Glen Elder Reservoir -- Known for good walleye fishing, this lake is currently experiencing good to excellent fishing. Look for fish to remain shallow for several weeks until the water temperature nears the upper 70s or low 80s. Fifteen-inch length limit.
  • Kanopolis Reservoir -- This lake is rated good to excellent with a 15-inch length limit. The fish are moving up onto the flats, and jig-n-worm drifting is effective.
  • Lovewell Reservoir -- Good walleye fishing is being reported at this lake. The April creel data estimated 300 walleye between 18 and 28 inches were harvested at an average of 4.5 pounds. It should only get better, although the lake has high numbers of sub-legal fish. The length limit is 18 inches.
  • Webster Reservoir -- Limits of legal fish are being caught just to the east of the swim beach and south of the old foundations drifting jig and worm. The length limit is 15 inches.
  • Wilson Reservoir -- Walleye are being caught in 5 to 20 feet of water all over the lake, many under the 15-inch length limit at this time.

Region 2 (northeast)

  • Herington New City Lake -- Although this lake and several others in this region are only rated fair currently, fish weighing 2 to 5 pounds are being caught along the dam and over flats on crankbaits and worms. Eighteen-inch minimum length limit.
  • Hillsdale, Banner Creek, Milford reservoirs; the Jeffery Energy Center Make-Up Lake; Centralia City Lake; Sabetha Pony Creek Lake; and Wyandotte County lake are rated fair to good.

Region 3 (southwest)

  • This region has few lakes and none currently report good walleye fishing although Scott and Clark state fishing lakes are rated fair.

Region 4 (southcentral)

  • Cheney Reservoir -- Fish are being caught on main lake points. Trolling crankbaits has worked well. Fish also can be caught drifting nightcrawlers. This lake has a 21-inch length limit.
  • Wellington City Lake -- With an 18-inch length limit, this lake finds anglers catching walleye drifting mud flats with worms on jigs.
  • El Dorado and Marion reservoirs and Winfield City Lake are rated fair.

Region 5 (southeast)

  • Coffey County Lake -- Walleye 14 to 22 inches long are being caught on the points and flats using a jig and worm combination, minnows, and trolling crank baits. Walleye 18 through 26 inches are protected.
  • Pomona Reservoir -- Anglers are catching walleye longer than 15 inches off windy points using jigs and minnows. Eighteen-inch length limit.
  • Melvern Reservoir, Osage State Fishing Lake, Elm Creek Lake, Pleasanton City Lake East, and Yates Center Reservoir are rated fair.

Anglers should keep in mind that conditions for walleye fishing can change daily. Weekly fishing reports are available on the KDWP website throughout the season.