Brett McComas

Hit “eelgrass” for mid-day summertime walleyes

by Brett McComas

It’s the ‘dog days’ of summer but walleyes can still be caught during the middle of the day. You just have to get ’em out of the weeds!

Typically when we’re talking about plucking summertime walleyes out of the weeds, it seems like cabbage and coontail are the go-tos — sometimes even milfoil or chara aka “sand grass.”

But I haven’t heard much talk about “eelgrass” or wild celery (vallisneria americana) as the scientific-y folks call it? Stuff that looks like this:

I stumbled-on this bite on accident…sort of…. Was up poking around for walleyes on a long, slow-tapering point — hitting that 10-14’ cabbage/coontail mix where the fish usually are on this central-MN lake — and striking out.

It was sunny and pushing 90 degrees, with water temps on the verge of bath water (81°F). I had seen several fish on my Humminbird MEGA Down Imaging hidden in the weeds, but just couldn’t get them to go. Figured the fish must’ve been straight-up buried down and the odds of ‘em even seeing my bait was slim.

Decided to slide up shallower to see if any fish were cruising the inside weed edge instead — that juicy 8-10’ wall that can sometimes act like a buffet line. Nothing.

Was about to throw in the towel [face-palm emoji] and figured for the heck of it I’d bomb a cast up on the tippy-top of this point = a 6-9’ flat with scattered eelgrass. Flipped the trolling motor to 10 and juuuust started to turn the boat to get to deeper water — so I could get the heck out of there — when I got “thunked.”

What do ya know, it was a chunky 15” walleye that absolutely inhaled my 4” Impulse Smelt Minnow on a 1/4-oz VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig. Have that combo tied on no matter what lake I’m heading to. Not sure the jig color makes a big difference since snap-jigging is mostly a reaction bite, but I was trying to mimic a tasty-little perch:

 

I like to rig it with 10-lb Sufix 832 Advanced Superline and a 5-6′ leader of 8- or 10-lb Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon. Smooth + strong combo and can still feel ’em “donk” the bait on the drop. Heavier leader when snapping out of thick weeds, and drop down to 8-lb for the sparser stuff.

Now back to the fishy story…

I immediately hit Spot-Lock and fired another cast up top. Ended up catching 3 walleyes in 4 casts [!] snap jigging my bait so hard that every stroke looked like a hookset…and sometimes was. Yup, my shoulder’s still sore today after just an hour of that type of fishing lol.

Noticed on the 3rd cast (the one where I didn’t catch a walleye) I had a piece of “eelgrass” hanging from my bait. The next few casts after that flurry of fish helped me put together the pieces of that puzzle. Ended up catching a couple of (largemouth) bass, brought in a little more eelgrass, and snagged 2 small-ish perch in the belly. So now I knew what they were feeding on and where.

That “eelgrass” typically grows in 10’ or less…sometimes out to 15’. Likes growing on a semi-hard bottom…like sand covered with a thin layer of muck. It can get thick, but these fish were relating to thinner patches of the stuff. Only thing I can think of is it was enough cover to hold bait (perch) but thin enough those fish could easily feed in and around it. Especially since the cabbage/coontail mix I normally get ‘em out of was soooo thick and overgrown = a nightmare to snap jig through.

The “X” marks the spot(s) where I found ‘em relating to that shallow eelgrass, and I highlighted in yellow where I normally catch ‘em midsummer on this point:

You’ve got your typical “flash bites” for walleye — about 45 minutes near sunrise and sunset — but there seems to be another bite window for these shallow weed fish…they LOVE to eat midday. Not sure what it is — maybe that’s when the forage is congregated around these areas?

Can catch ‘em a handful of different ways, but to me it’s that aggressive rip jigging that gets it done in the middle of the day. Think of it like this: No matter how full or sluggish you may feel, it’s hard to turn down a piece of bacon flashed in front of your face…. #ReactionBite

This shallow eelgrass bite is something I’m definitely going to be exploring more. Wanted to duplicate it in some other areas that  day ^^^ but had to get back home in time to pick up the little from daycare. We’ll be back…and in the meantime we’ll be practicing from the driveway. 😍

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