As walleyes vacate early season hideouts, in favor of deeper
summer haunts, there's a period of time when fish are in transition. When
there aren't that many fish shallow, and there aren't that many deep,
fishing can be a bit sporadic.
However, as more and more fish show up at their new "home
for the summer", the action can only get better. With an increase in
numbers, your chances for finding a few active ones greatly increases.
Walleyes don't all do the same thing at the same time, and when it comes
to feeding movements, it's like they take turns. Some will be totally
inactive, some may be starting to stir a little but won't move far to take
a bait, and others may be extremely aggressive and willing to take just
about anything you put in front of them. Those are the traitors that can
give up a schools identity, and location.
Summer location can include deep, offshore structure, like
sunken islands, bars and humps. Look for structures that have most of
their mass above the thermocline. Structure that is too deep will see
little walleye activity, if any, until after the fall turnover.
Larger structures will often out produce the smaller ones,
simply because they can offer more feeding opportunities for 'eyes on the
prowl. However smaller ones can be easier to fish, because of their
simplicity. There's only so many places they can hide. You can quickly
check the top, the sides, and the base of the breaks, with a graph or
flasher. If they're there, go ahead and fish, if not, it's time to move
The larger structures will require you to spend a little
time watching your electronics, and less time fishing. Walleyes can be
anywhere, and it doesn't pay to fish where they're not. To find them, you
can save some time by cruising the entire structure, making note of where
you saw the largest concentrations.
One of the best places to start your search, is near a break
line that drops quickly into deeper water. The top of deep structure can
play host to perch, baitfish, insects and crayfish. Active walleyes will
often be found cruising the top edge of a break, where they can quickly
move up to grab a bite to eat.
Another place to find summer 'eyes, that is often
overlooked, is the transition line where hard bottom meets soft. Where
gravel or rock, changes to mud or silt, a transition line is created, and
can concentrate fish. Transition line fish see little attention by most
anglers, and can be one your best bets for a shot at a real hawg.
Once you've found a potential area, and have marked at least
a few fish, it's time to get down to business. The early season
presentations of rigging and jigging may still produce, but quicker
methods, like trolling spinners, really start to pickup. Rising water
temps can push a walleye's metabolism to the boiling point, and increase
the chances that he'll react to a speedier technique.
One of the top summer producers, is a spinner and live bait
combo. Spinners possess an element of speed, and it's the speed that can
often nail walleyes with a bad attitude. To get a spinner in the "zone",
it's hard to beat a spinner and bottom bouncer combination. A bouncer can
get a bait where you want it , and run relatively snag free. Bouncers in
the two to three ounce range are the ticket, and allow the user to keep
the bait close to the boat. By keeping it close, you can react to sudden
depth changes. You can also lift the bait off the bottom, to get it in
front of any high riding fish that you mark on your depthfinder. You'll
want to keep the spinner snell short, let's say three feet or less. Longer
snells allow for more drop, and result in more snags. The odds on favorite
bait for dressing a spinner rig, is a big fat juicy night crawler. However
leeches can be effective at times, and minnows can turn late summer 'eyes
when nothing else will.
Mid summer walleye fishing can get awful tough, but it
doesn't have to be that way. The key is to find them, and then find out
what they want. Quite often, what they want is something with a little
speed. Think about it, not only does a walleye's metabolism increase, but
so does it's prey. Everything is moving at a faster pace, and it's a fast
paced world we're living in. See you on the water.