The general west-to-east migration of springtime walleyes in Lake Erie’s Western Basin is highly predictable—from western spawning rivers and reefs to the structure-rich zones around the Bass Islands, and later on, into the big lake’s Central Basin.

A mild winter and early spring, however, could put fish on the move 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal, says tournament walleye angler and Bandit ambassador Zak Jobes. Hailing from Barberton, Ohio, the young angler competes in the FLW walleye tour, Cabela’s MWC and several other circuits, and has fished the Western Basin his entire life.

“Walleyes are staging around reefs and deeper flats right now,” he said, adding that holding depths vary with water clarity and cloud conditions. Walleyes often cruise the top 15 feet where the water is warmest; “And on a beautiful day, when the sun is out, they might be just 5 feet down. The hottest thing going are Bandit’s Walleye Deep. The swimming action is perfect for springtime, and we’re pretty much nailing fish on them.”

The Walleye Deep Jobes prefers has a 27-foot maximum dive curve, but when walleyes are running shallower, a short letback (20 to 30 feet) behind a trolling board puts the lure in the strike zone.

“In water below 50 degrees, keep trolling speed from 1.3 to 1.6 mph, making S-turns to vary lure speed and depth. When temps climb above 50, you can bump the speed from 1.6 to 2.3 mph.”