Lying just north of Leech Lake in north central Minnesota, "Big Winnie" offers walleye fanatics almost 60,000 acres of prime walleye
water. The last few years have been especially productive. Several strong year classes have made a great fishery even better. A huge population of perch and cisco keep the walleyes fat and healthy. Because Winnie has
stained water, the walleyes feed primarily during the daylight hours. Like Leech Lake, where to fish on Winnie is determined by the wind direction. Walleyes on Winnie will move shallow on the windward side
of the lake during windy conditions. Under prime conditions, big catches will be the result. The Mississippi River runs through the lake, offering walleyes a prime spawning ground
during their spring run. In addition to the many shoreline points and flats, Winnie also has many main lake bars which are productive, especially during the summer months. Let's take a look at the equipment needed
to make your next outing on "Big Winnie" a productive one.
In early spring, Winnie's walleyes are mainly shoreline oriented. The Gap where Big Cut Foot Sioux Lake enters into Winnie has current flowing through it and is a prime spot early in the season. The west side of the lake offers many good early season spots such as the Third River Flowage, Ravens Point, Sugar Point, and the mouth of the Mississippi River. The walleyes at this time will be in shallow water in depths from 2 to 10 feet. Spots along the north end of the lake such as Stoney Point and The Dugouts will also produce fish at this time of the year. The dam on the Mississippi River where it leaves the lake is an excellent spot and one can catch limits of fish from shore. Starting in early to mid-June, many of the lakes walleyes will head for the offshore bars such as Sugar, Moses, Horseshoe and Bena Bar. The upper lip of most of these bars is about 15 feet and the break will drop off sharply into the 40 foot depths. Fish may be at the top lip of the break or anywhere further on down the drop-off. A fish locator is a necessary piece of equipment to locate walleyes along these breaks. By early September, the fish have moved back to the shoreline areas with The Gap at Cut Foot Sioux a popular spot. The High Banks area along the east side of the lake also has a very good fall bite.
Early spring walleyes on Winnie have a fondness for jigs and minnows. Fireballs tipped with fathead minnows are popular. Because of the darker water in Winnie, noisy jigs such as the
Buckshot Rattle Jig offer an advantage. Winnie is where the technique of snap jigging was started, and it remains a very productive method there today. Snap jigging works best on shallow bars and points. Start by letting out about 40 to 50 feet of line and trolling at a slightly faster speed than you would normally fish a jig or live bait rig. Give the rod a sharp snap ,drop the jig back and then repeat the motion. This jigging action produces a reflex hit from walleyes and is tough to beat under the right conditions. This technique will work all summer long as well when these shallow areas have some wind action coming in. For Winnie's walleyes on the main lake bars, nothing beats a live bait rig such as a Lindy or Roach Rig. Either leeches or nightcrawlers will work with one many times outproducing the other, and for reasons known only to the walleyes. At times bottom bouncers and spinners will produce nice stringers on Winnie, but this presentation is probably underrated and underused.