W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Sam Anderson
Mad Summer Monsters
By Sam Anderson
Finding trophy walleyes in the middle of the summer seems to elude a lot of anglers. The key to finding and catching large summer monsters is to look for them in the same places that you might find them in the fall or spring. Then you have to trigger them to respond to your presentation. In other words you have to get them mad if you are going to catch those summer monsters.
One of the first places I begin to look for these monsters of the summer is along an edge of a specific structure. These edges form breaks, which almost act like barriers to hold fish a little longer to feed before they move on. These are physical boundaries between shallow food producing areas and deepwater areas of the lake. Here schools of active walleyes meet concentrations of food and often this is a prime fishing area.
By fishing the edges of weeds, drop-offs and structure like rocks, you will increase your chances of finding a funnel point where fish concentrate. These spots vary but are based on factors like: water temperature, availability of baitfish, oxygen, light level, structure and schooling tendencies. Success rests with proper presentation. Once you have located the edge and fish, the next step is to entice them to bite. Your bait presentation will depend upon the specific edge that you have selected. If the walleyes are directly below and concentrated on a physical edge you can backtroll a Lindy rig, jig, or a bottom bouncer rig, keeping the bait among the fish you see on the depthfinder. If you find the fish strung out along the edge, keep the bait moving and they will bite. If they're clumped up in one spot, hover over them and vertically jig them.
Rocks also attract fish, try rock piles, humps or where rocks and weeds meet or are intermixed. Work it over thoroughly with a jig or live bait presentation. Try to determine where fish are holding. Keep asking yourself the question what is their pattern?
Massive bait schools break up and walleyes head for specific structural elements that funnel scattered, roaming forage past specific spots. Look for long fingers or spines that protrude toward the main lake. Roaming baitfish usually congregate along these fingers and filter down them. Walleyes wait at the tips .
Night fishing the shallows with diving Shad Raps or casting Risto Raps across weed tops or rocky points and humps can be very effective especially if the lake you are on gets a great deal of boat pressure in the day or it is an extremely clear lake. Don't overlook the use of a Thill float fished over shallow rocky spots with livebait after dark. Or drifting the shallows with long line snap jigging tactics on large bodies of water where active walleyes penetrate and feed in the shallows day or night.
Where jig or rig eating snags are bad switch to a bottom bouncer teamed with either a Little Joe spinner or a livebait rig like a Lindy rig. For jigging or rigging, drift or troll your baits or lures as vertically as possible, trying to hold them just off the bottom to minimize snagging and loosing tackle. In many cases, tipping jigs with livebait is unnecessary; walleyes will inhale plastic grubtails with gusto.
When working shallow areas to shore, especially when the water is clear, keep your cast parallel to the shore. The most active fish will be within 10 feet of shore, perhaps closer. If you cast the bait 30 feet out from the shore and retrieve it, the lure is in the most productive zone for only the last 10 feet of the cast. If you cast the bait parallel to the shore and retrieve it, it's in the fish zone all the time. This technique is very productive even later on in the summer, as fall draws near, when fishing for walleyes.
Walleyes will be along the riprap banks and rocky shorelines in the summer because they slide in behind the rocks and riprap to avoid current conditions and as a staging place for ambushing their next meal. In dirty or stained water it's possible to dabble a jig tipped with a minnow or plastic grub on a long rod. Just lift and drop the jig around rocks and anything else that breaks the current. Lately the advent of plastic lizards rigged on a Hidden Head hook floated and pulsated along the shore line drives big walleyes crazy and they crush that lizard as it swims by.
If walleyes are not located shallow move out to midlake humps. Search drop-off edges of large midlake points and humps rising above the summer thermocline, using electronics to detect the presence of baitfish and game fish. Some may be up along the first drop-off or deep weededge; others may be lying along the base of the break where it bottoms out into the main basin. Slowly backtroll livebait or a livebait and artificial combo at the depth of the spotted fish. If they're tight to the bottom or slightly into weed cover and hard to see, weave your rigs along the drop-off or weedline, paying particular attention to irregularities that may concentrate fish, points, turns, changes in weed growth. This subtle structure change should hold groups of fish in distinct areas.
A common summer pattern is to work the weedline area over with a jig and minnow or jig and plastic tail combos from slightly outside to slightly inside the deep weededge. Using a pop of the rod tip to rip the weed growth, let the jig fall between stalks to trigger fish.
Feeding within a lake, stream, or other body of water often becomes a
chain reaction. Fish hear the sounds of other fish feeding and often
begin to look for food themselves. The sounds of a tail thumping and
splashing can have a positive effect on many fish at the same time. You
first of all have to find them, then you have to get them interested in
your bait and finally make them mad enough to inhale your offering. If
you do follow this advice and get one mad enough hang onto the rod you
will see a mad monster walleye. If you get a snap shot of her send it
to me at www.samanderson.com I love to look at those summer time
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Since August 1, 1998