About this time of year, fishermen who enjoy using crankbaits start shifting gears. Literally, throughout the summer the most successful anglers are ramping things up a notch.
Summer crankbait trolling is about speeding up, covering more water and switching to baits that excel at higher trolling speeds. For years I have taught that crankbaits are best understood when they are divided into four distinctively different categories. Those categories include stickbaits, minnow divers, shad baits and wide wobblers.
Brightly colored lures like this Yakima Mag Lip in “Mad Man” contrast nicely and are very visible in stained water conditions so common during the summer months.
When water temperatures spike during the late spring and throughout the summer, the cranks that produce the best are most often the shad baits and wide wobbler categories. Among these two categories most walleye fishermen have discovered how productive the shad baits can be. Seemingly every manufacturer of crankbaits has several lures in this category to pick from and the majority of anglers have a good selection in their tackle boxes.
Jake Romanack caught this nice summer time walleye by using a high action crankbait, ramping up trolling speed and selecting a lure color that is more visible in stained water conditions.
The wide wobbler category remains the one group of crankbaits that most walleye fishermen have not embraced. Wide wobblers look different and wiggle more than the typical walleye crankbait, but when the conditions are right these lures can literally be lights out.
A few wide wobblers have carved out a niche among avid walleye anglers. The Storm 3/8 ounce Wiggle Wart is a good example of a bait that hits its stride when water temperatures are warm and trolling speeds get ramped up from 2.0 to 3.5 MPH. Another example of a productive wide wobbler is the Brad’s Wiggler which looks like and has a similar action to the Wiggle Wart.
Yakima’s Mag Lip series (3.0 and 3.5 sizes) is a new comer that also performs exceptionally well at faster trolling speeds. Ironically, all three of these wide wobblers were actually designed with cold water species like steelhead in mind, but these lures also have the perfect characteristics for targeting walleye when these fish are actively feeding in warm water.
The characteristics that make these lures produce so well of course centers on a wide and aggressive side-to-side wobble. Lures with this much action displace a lot of water as they move, making it easier for predatory species like walleye to zero in on them. This is important because during the summer months the best walleye fisheries are fertile environments that feature water clarity that becomes heavily stained with plankton blooms.
All of these lures also feature rattles which again help walleye find these baits. The third advantage wide wobbling baits enjoy is because these lures are generally fished for steelhead and other salmonids, they are often produced with some exceptionally bright and flashy color combinations.
Lots of wiggle, rattles and color options that fish can see in stained water conditions add up to some powerful fish catching characteristics. On top of these attributes, wide wobblers also do a great job of imitating gizzard shad, one of the most widespread and important species of forage fish across the walleye belt.
The final piece of the summer crankbait puzzle centers on using fishing scents to create a natural and attractive scent stream in the water. Pro Cure is a leader in the fishing scent industry and their Super Gel series are made from the actual baitfish walleye feed on including smelt, alewife, emerald shiners and yes gizzard shad.
High action crankbaits like these are deadly effective when trolling for walleye in warmer waters. The more stained the water becomes from plankton and algae blooms, the more productive these wide wobbling and noisy lures become. Treating baits with fish scent like Super Gel is also a good way to create a natural scent stream in the water.
The Gizzard Shad Super Gel formula is sticky and produces a long lasting scent stream in the water.
SUMMING IT UP
Selecting wide wobbling crankbaits, boosting trolling speed, picking some bright colors and greasing down those baits with fish scent adds up to a killer summer time walleye trolling pattern. Planer boards are the final piece of the puzzle. Using in-line boards like the OR12 Side-Planer from Off Shore Tackle allow anglers to fish the maximum number of lines allowed by law, flooding the water column with baits, covering more water and dramatically increasing the odds of catching fish in the process.