By Chip Leer
Early summer walleye fishing is a time of change, adjustment and opportunity. As water temperatures rise into the 60s and 70s, many walleyes in northern natural lakes and reservoirs abandon shallow shoreline areas in favor of offshore structure.
No longer content to congregate in small areas, the fish scatter and roam. Instead of finding the mother lode of ’eyes ganged in a single sweet spot, you often end up tracking down individual fish spread out over sprawling structure.
On the positive side, the fish are aggressive and hungry. Walleyes are far more apt to chase and hit faster-moving presentations now than they were earlier in the season, so you can cover water quickly in search of the next strike.
To find and catch summer walleyes fast, I follow a simple five-step strategy.
Step one entails pinpointing prime structure that’s either connected to or near a shoreline area that held walleyes in spring. Depths vary by lake, but often range from 10 to 25 feet.
Next, I scan potential fish-holding areas with sonar. Don’t expect to mark massive schools of walleyes. Groups of baitfish and the telltale arcs of solitary predators are enough to justify further investigation.
Step three, start fishing. My favorite presentation in this scenario is a spinner rig. The combination of flash and thump with the added attraction of live bait or a flavored Northland Fishing Tackle IMPULSE soft-plastic trailer are hard for hungry ’eyes to pass up.
Step four involves tweaking the rig to catch the most fish possible. Experiment with spinner shape, rotation speed, size and color from a selection of willow-leaf, Colorado, Indiana and Butterfly designs. Likewise, dial in the right style and weight of bottom bouncer for the depth and conditions. I keep an assortment of Northland’s Rock-Runner, Slip-Stick and Slick-Stick bouncers on hand to cover all the bases.
After you put the first four steps together, step five—reeling in the fish—comes naturally. You might want to add an optional sixth step, pose for a photo, after which I highly recommend repeating steps five and six until it’s time to head back to the dock.
Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, an outdoor sports marketing and communications company. For more information look to www.fishingthewildside.net.