There are times of the year when live bait can be the best way to get a fish to bite. After a weather system goes through and the fish get finicky, walleyes, perch, panfish, and smallmouth bass will eat some form of live bait while they ignore something that is artificial. When the fish are playing hard-to-get, a bait that’s alive is what will get them.
Sometimes the fish will respond most favorably to a particular form of live bait. I was fishing for walleyes on Lake Winnibigoshish in north-central Minnesota. Winnie is a really, really good walleye lake. I was fishing with Craig Brown. Craig is an outstanding angler who owns McArdle’s Resort, an outstanding resort on Winnie.
Walleyes are known to eat a wide variety of live baits. They like leeches, nightcrawlers, small minnows like fatheads and shiners, and they also eat larger fish like suckers, whitefish, tullibee, and perch. However, on some bodies of water, walleyes show a real preference for a certain type of live bait. That’s the case on Winnie in the spring and early summer: Winnie’s walleyes really like shiner minnows. In fact, if you’re not using a shiner, your catch will be noticeably reduced much of the time. When we were on Winnie we tried different things, but when we had a shiner on our jig, the chance for a bite was much better.