During the “dog days” of summer there are lots of ways to target walleye. To avoid warm water a lot of the high quality fish seek out deeper water and hard bottom structure. In the Great Lakes, inland lakes across the northern USA and natural lakes of Canada there are three iconic ways the pros target walleye and one new trick that might surprise even the most hard core walleye fishing enthusiast.
Jigs might be “old school” but they are very effective tools for targeting structure loving walleye during the dog days of summer.
For as along as there have been walleye, there have been anglers targeting them with lead head jigs. During the heat of summer minnows are a good bait if you can find them, but most anglers find that nightcrawlers and leeches are a better option when jig fishing deep water structure. Crawlers and leeches have great action and they stay on the hook a lot better than a minnow.
Soft plastics are also a great option, but not all plastics routinely produce walleye. The best plastics are super soft, packed with action and impregnated with scent. At the top of very long list of available soft plastics, Berkley’s Gulp and PowerBait have carved out a well deserved reputation for producing fish. The Gulp 3 inch minnow and the PowerBait 3 inch Ripple Shad are lights out to walleye.
SLIP SINKER RIGS
Another “old school” tactic, live bait rigging continues to produce countless walleye. Thread a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce walking sinker onto a main line of 10 pound test super braid, then add a small swivel and finish the rig by snelling a pair of No. 2 beak hooks to three feet of 10 pound test fluorocarbon line. Top this rig off by threading a single bead onto the line and then a No. 6 or 8 Yakima Spin n Glo body.
Baited with the biggest nightcrawler you can lay hands on, this iconic set up drifted or back-trolled over deep water structure continues to produce walleye everywhere they are found.
A slip sinker rig equipped with a Yakima Spin n Glo body and a jumbo nightcrawler is an often overlooked presentation for summer walleye. This iconic fishing technique is as productive today as it was 40 years ago.
THE BOTTOM BOUNCER AND SPINNER
The bottom bouncer and spinner rig generally catches more fish than all other popular walleye presentations put together. This classic summer time presentation produces even better when walleye pack up on deep water reefs in mid to late summer.
The bottom bouncer and spinner rig is extra deadly for targeting walleye holding on deep water reefs. Drifting or slow trolling, a bottom bouncer has probably caught more walleye than any other presentation.
It’s important to note that bottom bouncer fishing is not a finesse tactic. Use a big enough bottom bouncer to easily maintain contact with the bottom. For most natural lake situations a two ounce bouncer is ideal. When fishing the deeper reefs of the Great Lakes a three ounce bouncer is often required.
The ideal spinner rig is one that is about 40 inches in length and features a pair of No. 2 beak hooks, a No. 4 or 5 Colorado blade and a Quick Change clevice. When bottom bouncer fishing the blade size and color are critically important and the Quick Change clevice allows anglers to switch out blades in seconds.
Lots of anglers tie their own custom spinner rigs, but my favorite is the Yakima Bait Hammer Time Walleye Spinner. Available in No. 4, 5 and 6 Colorado blades and 18 different color patterns, my favorites are the Copper Confusion, Boy Girl, Clown and Firetiger.
The sleeper in this list of summer time walleye slayers is the growing popularity of glide baits. Originally designed for ice fishing, the larger sizes of these glide baits can be casted to deep water structure with amazing results.
Casting glide baits is one of the newest wrinkles on the structure fishing scene. Once thought of as only ice fishing lures, walleye will literally smash these baits when they are casted and allowed to sink to bottom over rocky structure. The interesting thing is glide baits routinely produce a larger averaged size fish compared to other mainstream structure fishing tactics like jigging, slip sinker rigging and fishing bottom bouncers with spinners.
The trick is to make a long cast and allow the glide bait to sink to bottom. Using super braid line and a rather stiff action spinning outfit reel up the slack line and give the glide bait a hard snap of the rod tip. This brings the bait to life, lifting it up off bottom and allowing it to glide back to bottom on a taunt line.
Walleye hit these bait so hard the strike is startling. When the fish is landed, the glide bait is typically choked down the fish’s throat! Adding a three foot leader of 15 pound test fluorocarbon line using a double uni knot helps trigger the maximum number of strikes.
A number of manufacturers produce glide baits including the Rapala Jigging Rap, the Moonshine Shiver Minnow, Northland Tackle’s Puppet Minnow and the Custom Jigs and Spins Rotating Power Minnow. All of these glide baits perform best when the factory treble hook is removed and replaced with a larger treble hook.
The ultimate after market treble hooks for fishing glide baits are the Eagle Claw TK310 Wide Bend Trokar and the TK300 Round Bend Trokar. These hooks are surgically sharp and stout enough to handle even trophy class fish. The most popular hook size are No. 4 models, but some guys use treble hooks as large as a No. 2.
SUMMING IT UP
During the dog days of summer there are several ways anglers can keep catching walleye. Targeting deeper water and hard bottom structure is one way to not only stay in contact with walleye, but also traditional walleye fishing tactics.