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When it comes to finding early season walleye, North Dakota guide Jason Mitchell knows that the search can be a boom or bust, depending on a handful of key factors.

1. Check water clarity
Call it the Goldie Locks approach, but Mitchell avoids water that is extremely clear, as areas of extreme turbidity. That just-right water blends the best of both.

“On bodies of water that have exceptional water visibility, spend some time looking for water that has some color,” Mitchell said. “On extremely turbid water, look for cleaner water.”

Mitchell said a quick look at your prop wash provides a visibility gauge.

2. Weed ’em out
The upside of modern GPS mapping chips is that they’ll show you bottom contour in tremendous detail. The downside? It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees.

“With the advent of better GPS Mapping and chips, an overlooked location on many walleye fisheries are shallower weeds,” Mitchell observed. “From bays on the Great Lakes to inland water, many anglers focus on structure while shallow weeds get overlooked.

“Weeds almost always hold some walleye and are not as difficult to fish as many anglers imagine.”

3. Stay on top of temps
Noting the importance of watching the temperature gauge, Mitchell explains the relevance of surface temperature.

“Surface water temperatures are relative, but early in the season large deeper basins often hold large pools of colder water,” he said. “When this colder water gets pushed and pulled through a body of water with different wind directions, we often find the best fishing in areas that have warmer surface temperatures.

“At times, a light wind might stack up warmer water along a shoreline and ignite a good bite. Other winds might push cold water out of a large basin into a shallow bay and kill that particular location. Spend some time searching for some of the warmest water on a given lake and this is often where you can find the most cooperative fish.”

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