Harness the Power of Side Imaging to Locate Trophy Pre-Spawn Walleyes

By Dr. Jason Halfen


In early spring, anglers across the Walleye Belt turn their attention to rivers in pursuit of migratory pre-spawn walleyes. Many anglers are drawn to “community holes” near river-spanning dams that interrupt the upstream movement of fish. However, many unpressured fish can be found miles from these obstructions, lingering in areas that provide feeding opportunities as well as shelter from strong spring currents.


How can an angler find these fish, and enjoy the opportunity to target them with limited competition from others? Advanced sonar technologies can reveal the presence of unpressured walleyes and baitfish, and thus provide anglers with the advantages they need to land spring trophies.



During the coldwater period, I target areas that are sheltered from the main force of the river’s current where the water is warmer and baitfish gather. These walleyes, and schools of baitfish, are revealed by Humminbird Side Imaging.


During a recent trip on the Mississippi River near Red Wing, Minnesota, my Humminbird ONIX10 Side Imaging system revealed large schools of bait holding in deep water during the day; as evening arrived, these baitfish transitioned rapidly to shallow, rocky shorelines. The screen capture shown here reveals baitfish as large groups of white sonar returns above the darker blue bottom; the dark “sonar shadows” found to the left of the white fish returns demonstrate that these baitfish are suspended, feeding at or near the surface during twilight.


Did you know that ONIX views are fully customizable? In addition to "pre-made" views for sonar, GPS, and accessory information, users can construct their own views using a set of very convenient templates. The 4-way split screen view is amazing. ONIX is information-rich! Photo courtesy of www.learningsideimaging.com



Predictably, walleyes followed the baitfish into the shallows and became vulnerable to one of my favorite pre-spawn presentations: slowly dragging a 4” B-FISH-N Tackle Ringworm on a light jig well behind the boat. Shortly after Side Imaging encouraged me to move shallow, I caught, photographed, and released this beautiful 10-pound class, pre-spawn female walleye. Finding and catching trophy-caliber fish like this one is made easier by using Side Imaging to help you make informed fishing decisions.


As you prepare to open your fishing season, check out our instructional DVD, “The Technological Angler, Volume 1: Success with Side Imaging” to help you harness the power of Side Imaging to catch more and bigger fish. 


Trophy walleyes are waiting for you!


Hungry walleyes spotted on an ONIX10 Side Imaging system! Check them out in the zoom box in the right Side Image, chasing some large baitfish (big shad). We know these are walleyes because they were flopping in the net soon after we captured this image. Photo courtesy of www.learningsideimaging.com




Editor’s Note: Learn more about using Humminbird sonar and Side Imaging to better your catch with Dr. Jason Halfen’s “The Technological Angler, Volume 1: Success with Side Imaging”. The expertly produced tutorial is available as a digital download and DVD: