Walleye Fishing on Boardman River Michigan: A Must-Try Experience for Anglers


Boardman River in Michigan is an excellent spot for fishing, especially for catching walleye. Learn about their habits and preferred baits, and follow fishing regulations and licensing requirements for a safe and fun experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Boardman River in Michigan is a popular destination for walleye fishing enthusiasts.
  • Understanding walleye habits, preferred baits, and practical techniques is crucial for a successful fishing trip.
  • Familiarize yourself with fishing regulations and licensing requirements before heading to the river.

Overview of the Boardman River

The Boardman River near Traverse City, Michigan, is a remarkable destination for anglers seeking a walleye fishing adventure. This picturesque river flows into the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan and offers a serene ambiance to enjoy your fishing experience.

As you cast your line in Boardman River, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and pristine waters. You’ll find that the river is home to various fish species, including brown trout, brook trout, and steelhead salmon. But let’s not forget the main attraction here — the elusive and prized walleye.

One of the best aspects of walleye fishing on the Boardman River is its accessibility. You can easily reach prime fishing spots and conveniently park nearby. Moreover, numerous fishing access sites along the river cater to all fishing enthusiasts, regardless of their skill level.

When planning your walleye fishing adventure, it is essential to consider the time of the year. The best time to hit the waters is during the spawning season, when walleyes tend to go upriver to reproduce. Remember that water flow and current conditions play a crucial role, so staying updated on these factors will significantly increase your chances of success.

In conclusion, the Boardman River offers superb walleye fishing opportunities amidst a spectacular scenic backdrop. So grab your gear, head to Traverse City, and prepare for an unforgettable experience on the beautiful Boardman River.

Getting to Know the Walleye Species

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If you plan to go Walleye fishing on Boardman River, you’ll want to know more about this fascinating species. Here’s what you need to know about the Walleye fish.

The walleye is a native freshwater fish in many parts of North America, including Michigan. They have a distinct look with their large eyes, which helps them see better in low-light situations. These large eyes make them excellent night hunters, so when you plan your fishing trip, remember that you may have more luck during twilight hours or even after dark.

The color of the walleye can change depending on their environment, but they usually have an olive-green or brownish color with a white belly. They can grow up to 30 inches long and weigh up to 20 pounds, but the average size that you’ll find in the Boardman River will be around 15 to 20 inches long, weighing about 1 to 3 pounds.

When it comes to the walleye’s diet, they mainly feed on smaller fish, insects, and other aquatic creatures. To increase your chances of catching one, use live bait such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers. Otherwise, you can use artificial lures like jigs, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits.

Now that you understand the Walleye species better make sure you bring the right gear, check the local regulations, and plan your trip accordingly. Happy fishing, and we hope you enjoy your time on the beautiful Boardman River in Michigan!

Best Times for Walleye Fishing

Spring Time Spawn

During the spring, the water temperatures in the Boardman River average around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal time for walleye fishing. During this period, walleyes are highly active and feeding, which enhances your likelihood of success. Cast your line near underwater structures as these predators congregate around rocks and drop-offs, searching for prey.

Summer Fishing

During the summer, fishing for walleye remains strong across many Lake and Michigan rivers, including the Boardman River. As the water temperatures rise, walleye feed actively near underwater structures such as drop-offs, rock piles, or weed beds. Make sure to target these spots and be prepared to switch up your tactics, as walleye may be more elusive in the warmer weather.

Fall Fishing

Fall can also be a great time to fish for walleye on the Boardman River. As the water temperatures cool down, look for areas where baitfish are abundant, and walleyes are likely to be feeding. This season is a great time to experiment with different lures and baits, as walleyes are more aggressive feeders.

Winter Fishing

While winter may not be the most popular time for walleye fishing on the Boardman River, it can still be productive if you know where to look and what techniques to use. Remember that the fish may be less active in the colder months, and you may need to adjust your approach accordingly. Consider using a slower presentation and fishing deeper water near structures or drop-offs where walleye are more likely to be found. Stay patient and persistent; you might land that trophy walleye you’ve dreamed of.

Fishing Regulations and License

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You should know several fishing regulations and license requirements when planning your walleye fishing adventure on the Boardman River in Michigan. By following these rules, you’ll ensure a fun and responsible fishing experience.

Firstly, you’ll need a Michigan fishing license if you’re 17 or older. If you’re under 17, you may fish without a license, but you still must observe all fishing rules and regulations. Any adult assisting a minor without a license must also have a valid fishing license.

One necessary regulation to keep in mind is the walleye size limit. In some areas, like Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River, the size limit was recently increased to 15 inches. Although this specific regulation might not apply to the Boardman River, staying informed about any potential changes that could impact your outing is essential. You can find detailed fishing regulations in the 2022 Michigan Fishing Guide the Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides.

Remember that some species, like lake sturgeon and muskellunge, require mandatory harvest registration. Even though this does not apply to walleye, staying informed about other species you may encounter during your fishing trip is always good. Should you need to register a harvest, you can do so online within 24 hours.

In conclusion, knowing the regulations and having the necessary fishing license are essential for a successful and rule-abiding walleye fishing trip on Boardman River, Michigan. So gear up, get your license, and enjoy your time on the water!

Techniques for Catching Walleye

Casting and Jigging

Casting and jigging are effective methods for catching walleye in the Boardman River. Choose a lightweight jig head and pair it with a soft plastic body, such as a grub, minnow, or paddle tail. Add live bait like minnows or leeches to your jig to increase your success chances.

Cast near underwater structures, drop-offs, and weed lines where walleyes tend to congregate. Let your jig sink to the bottom and retrieve it with a bouncing or swimming motion. Vary your retrieve speed and experiment with different colors and sizes of jigs until you find what works best for the conditions.


Trolling is another popular technique for targeting walleye in the Boardman River. Use a spinner rig or crankbaits to cover a large water area and locate active fish. When you find a productive spot, try slowing down and making more focused passes.

Utilize fishfinders and GPS to identify promising spots and maintain the correct depth. Please pay attention to your trolling speed and adjust it based on the walleye’s activity level. Use planer boards or inline weights to help your lure reach the desired depth.

Fly Fishing

Although less common for walleye, fly fishing can be practical on the Boardman River. Start by choosing a sinking or intermediate fly line and a 6- to 8-weight fly rod. Match your flies to the walleye’s natural prey, such as minnows, crayfish, and leeches.

Cast your fly near weed lines, drop-offs, and other structures where walleyes are likely to be found. Use a slow strip or swing retrieve, and don’t hesitate to experiment with different fly patterns, sizes, and colors until you find out what the fish are keyed in on. Remember, patience and persistence are key when fly fishing for walleye.

Effective Baits and Lures for Walleye

Choosing the right baits and lures is essential for a successful catch when fishing for walleye in Boardman River, Michigan. This section will discuss practical options for catching walleye, including live bait, crankbaits, and other popular lures.

Live Bait: One of the most effective ways to catch walleye is to use live bait, such as minnows or leeches. These natural prey will attract hungry walleye and entice them to strike. Rig your live bait on a hook or jig to present it effectively in the water, and remember to adjust your presentation according to the walleye’s preferences for that day.

Crankbaits: Crankbaits are excellent for covering larger water areas and can be incredibly productive when targeting larger walleye, like those that inhabit Boardman River. Choose a crankbait that mimics a baitfish, and experiment with different retrieval speeds, depths, and colors to discover what’s most attractive to the walleye on that particular day.

Jigs: Jigs are a staple in any walleye angler’s tackle box. These versatile lures can be used in different conditions and water depths, making them an excellent choice for Boardman River fishing. Opt for a jig like the AuthentX Pulse-R for springtime fishing, or try a different brand and style to suit your preferences. Combine your jig with soft plastic trailers or live bait to enhance its attractiveness to passing walleye.

Spinners and Soft Plastics: Spinners and soft plastics are another great option when fishing for walleye. Spinners create flashes and vibrations in the water, attracting the attention of nearby fish. Soft plastic lures, like the Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ, imitate the movement of baitfish or other aquatic prey, making them an appealing choice for walleye. Experiment with different spinner and soft plastic combinations to find what works best for the conditions on Boardman River.

With these effective baits and lures, you’ll be on your way to a successful walleye fishing adventure on Boardman River, Michigan. Don’t be afraid to switch things up and try different presentations until you find what works best for the day – after all, that’s part of the fun of fishing!

Equipment and Tackle for Walleye Fishing

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When planning a walleye fishing trip to Boardman River, Michigan, it’s essential to have the right equipment and tackle to increase your chances of success. Let’s look at the essential gear you’ll need for a great day of walleye fishing.

First, you’ll want a reliable fishing rod and reel combo. A medium-light to medium power rod with a fast action is ideal for walleye fishing. Pair it with a quality spinning or baitcasting reel loaded with a 6 to 10-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. This setup will provide the sensitivity and strength needed for detecting bites and handling walleyes of various sizes.

Next, let’s talk about the tackle. Having a variety of lures and baits in your tackle box will help you adapt to different conditions and preferences of walleyes on the Boardman River. Here are some go-to options to consider:

  • Jigs: A classic choice for walleye fishing, jigs with twister tails or minnow-style soft plastics can be very effective. Try different colors and sizes to find what works best for the day.
  • Crankbaits: Diving crankbaits that mimic baitfish are another popular choice. Look for models that dive to various depths, as walleyes can move throughout the water column depending on the time of day and temperature.
  • Spinner Rigs: These rigs, also known as crawler harnesses, feature a combination of beads, spinner blades, and hooks for attaching live bait or soft plastics. They’re great for covering water and attracting walleyes with their flashy presentation.
  • Slip Bobbers: For a more finesse approach, slip bobbers allow you to present live baits such as minnows or leeches near the bottom where walleyes often lurk.

Of course, you’ll also need basic terminal tackle like hooks, sinkers, and swivels to complete your rig setups. Ensure that various sizes and styles are available to accommodate different lures and baits.

Lastly, remember essentials like a sturdy tackle box, a net for landing your catch, pliers for removing hooks, and a measuring device to ensure your walleyes meet any size regulations.

Ensuring you have the right equipment and tackle can make your time on the Boardman River enjoyable and fruitful. Grab your gear and head out to see what walleye fishing in Michigan offers!

Planning Your Fishing Trip

When planning your walleye fishing trip to the Boardman River in Michigan, there are a few essential factors to consider. Firstly, you’ll want to decide on the best time to go. The walleye fishing season generally kicks off in spring and lasts throughout the summer. During this time, you can expect to enjoy productive fishing as the walleye are active and feeding.

Next, you’ll want to look into lodging options nearby. Traverse City has various accommodations, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels. Be sure to book early, especially during peak fishing season, to ensure you secure your preferred spot. In addition to lodging, Traverse City offers many amenities, including restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.

Choose the right bait when fishing for walleye in a river – live options like minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers are popular. Artificial lures, like jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits, can also be used effectively. Attention to weather conditions can also make a difference, as windy days often increase walleye activity.

If you need to get more familiar with the Boardman River or prefer a guided experience, consider hiring a local fishing guide. These experts can help you navigate the river, provide valuable advice, and even supply gear if needed. This way, you can focus on enjoying your time on the water and catching those trophy walleye.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack essential items for your fishing trip, such as:

  • Fishing tackle and gear
  • Appropriate clothing, including rain gear
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • A valid Michigan fishing license
  • Camera to capture your catches

Considering these factors and planning, you can ensure your walleye fishing trip on the Boardman River will be an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Other Species on Boardman River

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Besides walleyes, you’ll be pleased to find a variety of other fish species in the Boardman River. These species not only keep the ecosystem diverse and healthy but also offer numerous angling opportunities for you.

One of the prevalent fish species you might encounter is the northern pike. These aggressive predators can lurk around weed edges and drop-offs in search of prey. Your go-to lures for pike would be large spoons, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits that mimic the natural forage.

If you’re a bass enthusiast, you’ll be happy to know that smallmouth bass are relatively common in the Boardman River. These hard-fighting fish prefer rocky structures and can be caught using soft plastics, crankbaits, and topwater baits.

While exploring the river, you might also come across some Rock Bass. These scrappy, panfish-sized fighters can be caught on small jigs, spinners, or live bait, such as worms or minnows.

For fly anglers, the Boardman River is known to have a healthy population of trout, including brown trout and the occasional steelhead. Keep an eye on the insect hatches, as it can improve your chances of hooking up with one of these beautiful fish.

In some sections of the river, you may even stumble upon salmon. These majestic fish usually make their way up the river during spawning runs, offering exciting fishing opportunities for those looking to test their skills against one of nature’s most potent swimmers.

While not as common, other species, such as carp and musky, exist in the Boardman River ecosystem. These fish can be elusive but rewarding if caught on a fishing excursion.

Remember to keep a diverse selection of lures and bait in your tackle box. This guide will assist you in adjusting your fishing techniques to catch various species in the Boardman River at different times of the day. Happy fishing!

Local Bait Shops

When planning your next walleye fishing trip on the Boardman River in Michigan, knowing where to find the best bait shops in the area is essential. These local stores will not only provide you with the necessary gear and supplies but also give expert advice on fishing techniques. Here’s a list of bait shops you should consider before hitting the river.

Traverse City Anglers is a well-known place for anglers in the area. Specializing in fishing supplies and guiding services, this shop is an excellent resource for beginners and experienced fishermen. Check their website here for more information on their offerings.

Another convenient option is HookandBullet. Located nearby, they offer a variety of fishing gear essentials, as well as live bait, to get you started on your adventure. They also provide information on fishing charters and local campgrounds, making it a one-stop-shop for your trip. Visit their website to learn more.

Remember to download the Fishbrain app, a helpful tool that offers up-to-date fishing reports, bait recommendations, and forecasts. It’s a handy resource to have at your fingertips while exploring the Boardman River. Click here to visit their site.

Ask local anglers and fishing enthusiasts for their favorite bait shops. Local knowledge can sometimes lead you to hidden gems that may not be found through online searches. Remember always to respect the environment, follow fishing regulations, and be mindful of other anglers while enjoying your time in the beautiful Boardman River area.

Targeting Walleye

Night Fishing

Night fishing is one of the best ways to target walleye on the Boardman River. Walleye are known to be more active during low-light periods, so fishing at night can significantly increase your chances of catching them. Cast your line into deeper waters and troll slowly to cover more ground. Using lures that produce vibrations and have a robust and reflective presence can attract walleye at night. Bring a headlamp or other portable light source to aid visibility and safety as you enjoy your night fishing experience.

Vertical Jigging

Another effective method for targeting walleye in the Boardman River is vertical jigging. This technique can be particularly fruitful in areas where the river features drop-offs or deeper pockets. To begin, lower your jig to the bottom and gradually lift it with a slight jerk, then let it fall back down. Repeat this process, varying the speed and height of your jigging motion to entice the walleye to bite.

When using this technique, match your jig size and color to the local forage, as walleye primarily feed by sight. Additionally, consider equipping your jig with a stinger hook, which can increase your catch rate when walleye are finicky.

Targeting walleye in the Boardman River can be a rewarding experience, making your fishing trip even more memorable. Whether you fish at night or try vertical jigging, these techniques can significantly improve your chances of success. Remember to stay patient and enjoy the process while keeping the local regulations and conservation in mind. Happy fishing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the regulations for walleye fishing in Boardman River?

Before heading out for walleye fishing in Boardman River, you should know the local fishing regulations. Michigan Department of Natural Resources sets the rules, which are subject to change periodically. It’s essential to check the current regulations for up-to-date information on catch limits, size restrictions, gear requirements, and license necessities.

Which season is best for catching walleyes in Michigan?

The best season for catching walleyes in Michigan is usually during the spring and fall months. Anglers can easily target them when they are closer to shore and most active. During spring, walleyes spawn and can be found in shallow waters, whereas, in fall, they follow baitfish concentrations, providing you with prime opportunities to catch them.

What bait works well for walleyes in Boardman River?

Live baits such as minnows, leeches, and nightcrawlers are popular choices for walleye anglers. Artificial lures like jigs, spinner baits, crankbaits, and fly lures can also be used successfully. Experiment with different baits and lures to see what works best in your fishing conditions.

Where are the top spots for fishing walleyes on the Boardman River?

While there may not be specific “hot spots” mentioned for walleye fishing on Boardman River, finding areas with underwater structures like drop-offs, weed beds, and submerged wood can be productive for catching walleyes. Look for areas with current breaks, as walleyes often use these as ambush points. You can also ask local fishermen or fishing guides for their recommendations.

Are there any size limits for walleyes in Michigan?

Yes, there are size limits for walleyes in Michigan. These regulations vary depending on the specific body of water and the time of year. Consult the current fishing regulations before your trip to Boardman River, so you have the most up-to-date information on size limits and other rules.

When does the fishing season end on Boardman River?

The fishing season on Boardman River has a vague end date, as many species can be fished year-round. However, be aware that there may be seasonal restrictions and changes to regulations for some species like walleyes. It’s always a good idea to check the current regulations before planning your fishing trip to ensure you know the rules and seasons for your target species.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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