Over the past few years, a lot of my friends have asked me how to catch walleyes during the summer. My friends have no problem catching lots of walleyes in May and June but come July the fish seem to disappear.
In the early part of the season walleyes are easy to catch for two main reasons. The first has to do with their food source. In spring and early summer the walleyes are feasting on shiners, which are cruising the shallows to spawn. The second is cover or lack thereof. The weeds are just starting to grow, provide little cover and are easy to fish with most presentations.
So, what happens come late June and mid-summer? The weeds have now become fully grown and the bait is no longer concentrated in isolated areas. Most all bait and fish are now living in or near the mature weed growth. Walleye anglers are mostly looking for cabbage weeds (clasping leaf pond weed). These will be found in patches and the weed will be anywhere from 4-8 inches tall with broad leafs. These plants provide the perfect place for bait and walleyes to get out of the sun and hide. The easy part is finding the weeds but the tough part is catching the walleyes hiding deep in those weeds.
Last July my friend Dave and I came across a beautiful patch of cabbage weeds. I told Dave we should try using an Off Shore to run a leech thru the weeds. The water was crystal clear and we needed to get the bait away from the boat in order to not spook the fish. The Off Shore is an inline side planer. You let your bait out at to the depth you desire, clip the Off Shore onto your line and it will run your bait to the side of the boat. The distance is determined by the amount of line you let out after clipping it to your line. Our rod was rigged up with a 3/8oz worm sinker, a small swivel and 4’ of Berkley Trilene 100% Flouro Professional Grade line, with a small Northland Gum-Drop floater tied on. We tipped it with a jumbo leech. The cabbage was about 10’ under the surface of the water so we let out enough line that once we started to move the sinker would brush the top of the cabbage, allowing the leech to float just above it. Every once in a while the sinker would catch a leaf causing the whole rig to stall and then it would pop loose. This is ideal for triggering a bite if you happen to have a fish following your bait.
It didn’t take long for our plan to pay dividends. Within a half hour I looked back and noticed the board was buried underwater. This was either a big fish or a snag. Dave grabbed the rod and reeled in a big eye.