Shiner minnows are king

Shiner minnows are the key to big walleyes in the Spring. (Submitted photo)

The month of May and early June is what I call the shiner minnow time.

The shiner minnow for this guide is responsible for more and bigger walleyes than any other bait. This season the shiner minnow has been tough to find because the bait dealers say the shiners have not been “running” up the creeks and rivers as per usual. If you can find them, use them.

Shiner minnows are a very tough minnow to learn to fish. You can expect to hook about 50% of the walleyes and you will miss a ton on the hook set. I tell my clients to wait at least 6 seconds for the walleye to get the shiner inhaled. Walleyes tend to grab the shiner and run off before eating it. It is very difficult to resist the temptation to set the hook on the “tick”. I feed some line to the fish and wait 6 seconds before setting the hook. If I miss, I wait a little longer next time. It takes some time on the water to get the perfect cadence.

The downside to shiner minnows are the northern pike that absolutely devour shiner minnows. On certain lakes the “hammer handle” pike tear into your shiners and the walleyes never see the bait. I often have to abandon these pike -infested lakes in favor of a more walleye-friendly lake.

The largest walleyes of my season are often caught on shiner minnows in May and June. It takes patience and time on the water to get the hang of this premier minnow. The cost of these minnows can be as much as 70 cents a minnow, but they are well worth it.

Minnesotan Steve Carney is a professional fishing guide and outdoor personality.

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