It’s the middle of summer and the days are not only long, but unbearably hot. Even the most avid fisherman will tell you that it’s just no fun sitting in a boat in 100-degree Fahrenheit (38.8 Celsius) waiting for a fish to strike. Let’s face it, it’s not fun for the walleye fish either. Most prefer cooler water and shade, just like us.
That’s why savvy fishers know this is the season to go fishing for walleye. What’s that? What’s a walleye? Named for the opaque, milky film in their eyes, walleye are dawn, dusk, and nocturnal feeders – that eye film actually helps them see better in low light, thus the night fishing – as well as one of the best fish to eat in North America.
Native to Canada, the Great Lakes Region, and most of the northern United States, this aggressive and fun to catch fresh water fish is the largest member of the perch family. It can grow up to 15 pounds (6.8 Kg) and can be found in lakes, rivers, and streams.
Fishing for walleyes is fun and perfect for escaping the mid-day heat. They are known to strike hard and put up a fight worthy of a quality fisherman. Sporting black stripes and a bright gold underbelly, when you eat one, you’ll understand why they are the Gold Medals of the lake fishing world.
How to catch a walleye – or getting jiggy with it
In the spring, when they are spawning, the males are aggressive and will strike just about anything. However they stay close to shore and are much smaller than the females. Often, experts giving out fishing tips will suggest waiting for spawning season to end. That brings us to summer.
In the summer, larger ones will hide in the deep shadows, near the bottom of lakes, or in the cool reeds. When fishing for walleye, you then need the right type of rig if you want to land one big enough to feed your family. Enter the white twistertail jig.
Whether you are fishing for walleye from the shore, or trolling, an 1/8oz or1/4oz jig with a white, green, or yellow twister tail is a good choice. If you want to add a bit of worm or other bait to increase your chances, go ahead. However your walleye fishing tactics probably don’t need that extra bit.
Try jigging straight down into thick weeds, maybe five-to-ten feet deep, as well as areas with steep drop offs. In addition, many expert tips include waiting until the evening when the large walleyes will come out of the deep water and patrol shorelines for their food.
Fishing techniques for walleye – Don’t be afraid to be a troll
Trolling is one of the best ways to catch walleye. Remember that the larger fish are near the top of their food chain. That means the large, trophy walleye will stay out in the open water to feed on baitfish in the cooler thermal layers. So we’re talking about 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep.
If you’re going to fish in deep water, you’d be smart to have a depth finder to ensure you are in the right amount of water. Nothing is more frustrating than setting your line just a little bit too shallow for the school of fish just waiting to go home with you for dinner.
Since they feed on baitfish, they will respond well to deep-water trolling lures that jerk and weave. In particular, walleye crankbaits are known to be a highly successful form of trolling lure for these beauties. In addition, walleye crankbaits can offer some of the fastest and most intense action around.
With the plethora of trolling lures out there, just remember a few walleye tips:
- Action: The action, or wobble of the lure will entice different fish. As Walleye are aggressive, you want a wider trolling lure to increase the action.
- Color: Make sure your lure matches what they are eating in that area. If they’re going after small baitfish, you want to ensure your lure matches the local fish.
- Profile: Just like color, the size of your bait needs to match what the walleye are eating. So here’s a walleye fishing tip, don’t use a five-inch lure when the fish are eating three-inch baitfish.
Among walleye lures there are a few that stand out. The Bagley walleye shad and the Berkley flicker shad are among the most successful and trusted of walleye lures. Both are known for producing consistently good results while being fair enough in price not to worry you.
The Wapala shad rap and Reef Runner rip shad are also good lures for your walleye trolling tool box. Both are known to work in a wide variety of conditions when more walleye-specific lures are not performing. Look for discounts and sales to get a box full of lures, and a net full of walleye.
Walleye fishing tips – don’t reinvent the lure
Walleye are such a popular fish that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tips and tricks for how to catch them and how to cook them. So why reinvent the wheel, or reel in this case, and learn from the pros instead.
They are schooling fish, which means where there’s one, there are many. Once you get a strike, keep going back to that same area. They also tend to like the same areas, so once you find that fishing spot, keep going back.
Most importantly, get your bait where they are and keep it simple. Unless they are spawning, these fish can be lazy. They strike hard and fight, but the seldom go after fast-moving bait. Troll slowly and leisurely. Let them make the move.
As stated earlier, they like the cooler water, so keep your line near the bottom. Finally, these beautiful fish have sharp teeth, like many predators, so ensure your line is strong enough to stop them from cutting through it. Also, ensure your rod is flexible and sensitive enough to tell the difference between your lure hitting bottom, or a walleye nibbling at the lure. Panfish is pretty popular, depending how you cook up any of your great catches.
As in everything, cost can be prohibitive. Make sure you look for giveaways, fishing sweepstakes, and my favorite, fishing promotionals. The only thing better than landing that trophy walleye is knowing you did so for 50% less than the guy next to you who only landed a small one.
So get out, get fishing, and bring home one of the tastiest fishes around. Happy casting.