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Catching a Bunch of Winter Walleyes with Johnnie Candle

provided by John E. Phillips 

Mossy Oak Pro Johnnie Candle of Devils Lake, North Dakota, has been a tournament walleye fisherman for many years. When not tournament fishing, he guides on Devils Lake in North Dakota and several other lakes. To learn more, check out his website and his Facebook page.

Johnnie Candle winter fishing

I’ve had some of my best days of catching lots of walleyes and big ones during November and December in years past. Depending on the body of water I’m fishing, catching 20-40 walleyes in a day isn’t uncommon. With several anglers, you may see days when you catch and release 50-70 walleyes in a day at that time of year. The schools of walleyes are bigger and tighter in the late fall and winter than they are at any other time of the year.  

The last trip I made on Devils Lake in mid-October 2020, the wind let down in the evening for a couple of hours, and I had a really bad itch to go fishing. I’m fortunate there’s a boat ramp only 200 yards from my house on Devils Lake. Late in the afternoon, at almost evening, when I got to the spot where I wanted to fish, I was fishing by myself with only one rod. In 1-1/2 hours, I caught and released 17 walleyes. 

At this time of the year, most walleye guides take their clients out to fish for trophy walleyes. However, the elements can be brutal then. For instance I’ve fished in driving snowstorms where I hardly could see my buddy in the back of the boat in years past. But those conditions are when you’ll have your best chance of catching a walleye that weighs from 8-12 pounds. I don’t have many photos of fishing in that kind of weather because getting a photographer to go out in freezing conditions like those and heavy snow is tough. 

walleyesJohnnie Candle’s Walleye Chowder Recipe


  • 1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3-4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 ounce bag shredded carrots
  • 4 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 2 bay leaves or ¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 8 medium walleye fillets
  • Parsley flakes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a stock pot, sauté bacon, onions, celery together until bacon is brown and celery and onions are clear. Melt the butter, and add flour to the grease to create a roux. Then slowly add milk while stirring constantly. Add cubed potatoes, shredded carrots and bay leaves. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring frequently until potatoes are done. Add walleye fillets and frozen corn. Cook another 5-10 minutes on low heat. Finally just before serving, stir in 1 quart heavy whipping cream. Garnish with parsley flakes, and serve with oyster crackers.

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