Are walleye more active at night?

Article By: Joe Seaborne 2021-05-24

Fishing for walleye at night

First a short story.

This story takes me back almost twenty years ago to a week I spent camping and fishing out at the lake. This particular week was exceptionally hot, which made fishing tough because everything was hunkered down deep in cooler water.

The lake had an outflowing canal that was also (unintentionally) a giant fish trap due to the spillway that fed into the canal. It’s no secret that fish get trapped in these types of canals, so I’ve always set aside some time to check them out whenever possible.

Since the canal was close to our campsite I spent a lot of time fishing it at various times throughout the day. In all honesty, fishing was terrible that week because of the scorching heatwave. The canal was the only place I caught anything, so I decided to ditch the lake and focus on the canal.

Throughout the week I caught a few sizeable walleye first thing in the morning, then mostly pike throughout the day. This led me to the conclusion that walleye must be active at night or else they wouldn’t have been trapped in the canal come morning. What got me thinking, even more, was the fact that every walleye I caught in the canal was bigger than anything I pulled out of the lake.

Are big walleye more active at night?

Based on the above example, it’s hard to overlook the fact that big walleye could be more active at night. Now I’m not going to go and say that you can’t catch them during the day, because you can! Just don’t forget that walleye are extremely active at night.

Can walleye see better at night?

Yes: walleye have special eyes that are superior at gathering light, which gives them an overwhelming advantage over other predatory fish once the sun goes down.

What colour can walleye see the best in near darkness?

This is a tricky question to answer because it also depends on what depth you’re lure is sitting at. This is actually something every angler should consider when selecting a lure because the colour will disappear at certain depths. For example, a red lure will appear greyish blue past fifteen meters and orange will fade past twenty meters.

Colour visibility at different depths:

Lures for different depths:

Rapala Rattlin Crawdad (Red)

Rapala Husky Jerk (yellow/green)

Rapala Deep Down Husky Jerk (Blue glass minnow)

Now that that’s out of the way, we can look at what colours walleye see best.

As a general rule of thumb; red, yellow and green work well for walleye. They see red the best and green the least but all three colours are going to be visible.

What colours do walleye have trouble seeing?

Blue, purple and violet are the hardest colours for walleye to see. Basically blue, purple and violet look greyish to a walleye, so keep that in mind when selecting a lure!

Try fishing the shallows for big walleye after dark.

Later on, in the evening and into the night is a great time to target big walleye moving into shallow water. Once sunset nears, big walleye will move into the weed patches and shallows in search of food and be active throughout the night.

So remember the next time you’re out on the lake and the walleye aren’t biting, try coming back at sunset. This just might be the solution for turning an ok fishing trip into a killer time landing killer walleye!