Saturday, April 5, 2008
With spring quickly slipping past us, we are on a crash course for the doldrums of the fishing season. Hot, sticky days without even the slightest movement of air. Sun rays so intense, you feel as if you are being baked alive in your boat. These are the dog days of summer, and can prove to be the most difficult walleye bite of the year.
Despite these less than desirable conditions though, there is some fantastic fishing to be had if you just key in on a few factors.
Location is the first thing to focus on. Now that the water temperatures are soaring, the fish will be leaving their spring habitat and making the transition to their summer haunts. Generally speaking, this is the main body of the lake which usually offers the greatest depths. The fish often suspend in these waters out from points, humps, islands and other main lake structure. The best thing to do when faced with this situation is to slowly motor over potential fish holding areas and watch your sonar. I highly recommend a high pixel unit as this will act as your eyes beneath the water. The Lowrance X85 is my personal choice with 240 vertical pixels as well as speed and temperature read outs. Once you have determined the area you want to fish, get out your rod holders and start up that kicker. Trolling is the best way to catch these fish as it allows you to cover a lot of territory and quickly eliminate areas that are not productive. Walleyes will often be deep this time of year. How deep, you might ask? Well, that depends on such factors as water clarity, boat traffic, bait fish, etc.. Last year in July, I caught fish as deep as 60 feet and talked to people going even deeper than that. During low light periods and windy days though, walleyes will often come up quite shallow. Put out as many lines as is legal and stagger the depths of each bait. This enables you to put a lure in several target areas at the same time. Once you catch a few fish at a certain depth, run all your lines in that zone. It is also a good idea to use planer boards which do two things to aid your presentation. First, they give your trolling path much wider coverage. Second, they keep lures out away from the boat which will sometimes get you strikes from otherwise spooky fish.
So what is the best bait to use? There is no magic answer to this question but it is hard to beat a crankbait. These lures can be trolled at high speeds which, once again, enables you to cover a large area quickly and seek out the fish that are actively feeding. There are many kinds that catch fish but Rapala crankbaits seem to put fish in the boat when nothing else will. The Shad Raps and Deep Husky Jerks are favorites among walleye fishermen everywhere and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. For color selection, a good rule to follow is natural colors in clear water and bright colors in stained water.
As the dog days of summer set in on us, don't get discouraged. Load up the boat and head for the lake. Bring some sun block, a cooler full of drinks, and your favorite crankbaits. It may take a while to find them, but the walleyes are waiting!
By Samuel Forbes
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