How to Catch Walleyes Without Spottail Shiners…

May 6, 2013 8:23 am0 commentsViews: 65

Do to a variety of factors, we may be seeing a shortage of Spottail Shiners in the bait shops this year.  Recently I noticed a post by Jeff Sundin, a full time, professional fishing guide, outdoor writer and photographer who answered the question of what to use for bait, if worse comes to worse and there are no shiners available.

Spottail Shiner

Spottail Shiner


(4/28) From Tom Crosby; Hey Jeff, A couple of years ago you and I had a discussion about shiners. I said once we ran out of shiners we couldn’t buy a bite. You told me that it was a state of mind.

Well I am trying to prepare for the upcoming opening fishing season and planning on worst case scenario, no shiners! What do you suggest we use? You said it was more about profile size than species of bait. Looking for some suggestions on minnows and artificials. Lead me to the promise land of bait!

A)The reason that so many anglers have tunnel vision about Spottail Shiners is because they work. In fact they work so well and have been so easy to get that most fishermen who use them, have never really been forced into experimenting with other baits.

Now before I say another word, hear this loud and clear; There will be a day during this season that I will say something like; “I really wish that I had some Shiners”. That said, most of the time, I can catch plenty of fish using other baits, even artificial.

In spite of their reputation as finicky, lethargic feeders, Walleyes are eating machines. They require food and plenty of it, especially during Northern Minnesota’s precious warm water period.

But, since your frame of reference is how to do without Shiners, lets skip over all of the other bait categories that could come into play during mid-summer and focus strictly on minnows.

When Walleyes feed, they take advantage of any situation that makes getting a meal the easiest. That could mean that they take advantage of weather to capture minnows that become disoriented, or it could mean that they roam slowly and select only premium size minnows that come within easy range.

If they’re facing a huge school of young of the year, 3/4 inch long Perch, then they take advantage of it. Abundance becomes their focus. Huge schools of tiny minnows are easy to get, especially during windy conditions, so they move in for the kill and gorge on them while they can. At times like these, a simple jig and minnow combination using almost any kind of minnow, or even a variety of artificials will produce good results.

When the fish are in a frenzy and they’re aggressive. Fatheads, Dace, Golden Shiners, small Suckers, they will all work.

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Jeff Sundin is a full time, professional fishing guide, outdoor writer and photographer. Book Jeff for guided fishing trips, for fishing seminars, fishing promotions and media events. Click here >> learn more about Jeff Sundin.


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