Doesn’t matter if you’re using live bait or artificials, walleyes can be downright tough to catch this time of year…but don’t take it from me:
> Al Lindner: “Talking to the guides and a lot of the people we know all over the Midwest, everybody has said this has been the strangest year any of us have ever seen for catching walleyes. On average, it’s been a tough bite, but we still have lots of fish to catch.
> “Not every walleye in the lake is always doing the same thing at the same depth. There’s a lot of fish that do a lot of different things. And that holds true all the time.”
According to Al there’s 3 types of bites — that are all happening at the same time — on walleye factories across the Upper Midwest: a shallow weed bite, structure bite and suspended bite…
1. Weed Bite
In most larger lakes known as go-to walleye destinations, there’s always an active population of weed walleyes:
> Al: “Day in, day out, you can catch ’em in the middle of any weeds sparse enough to be fishable and pull a bait through.
> “That population of fish is active earlier and late in the day. They get out of the denser weeds and they’ll come up near the surface, rise high in the weeds, and come out to the edges.”
Al’s favorite way to catch ’em: Rip jigging a VMC Neon Moon Eye Jig (typically 1/4-oz) with a boot-tail or split-tail — targeting weeds in 8-12′ during low-light periods.
2. Structure Bite
An entirely separate population of walleyes are Jigging Rap fish that spend the summer tight to deep structure:
> “On a lot of these lakes, those structure fish are around 25′, but I’ve heard of bites going as deep as 40′ already — that’s astounding.”
He talked about how the winners of the Lund Mania tourney on Ottertail last month caught their best fish in 35-40′:
> “I was amazed. The big fish all came deep…deeper than normal…deeper than most of us had expected. And we’re hearing that’s true for a number of our lakes here in the Brainerd area.”
When wall-dawgs are hugging bottom that deep, Al’s fav is snappin’ a Jigging Rap ‘cuz he says “nothing can trigger those fish faster and better.”
> Not every area of 25-40′ will hold a population of active walleyes. This bite requires a good sonar/GPS unit. Navigate to reefs or humps surrounded by deeper water that top out between 25-40′ and only fish where you see schools of fish or bait on the screen.
> “If you hunt for them with your electronics, you’ll find them — they stick out when they’re there.”
3. Suspended Bite
A third population of walleyes spend most of the summer suspended over deep basins chasing baitfish:
> “Forget what you know about structure and throw a #9 Shad Rap over the back of the boat, stick your rod in a rod holder, leave a lot of line out and just start trolling in the middle of nowhere.
> “You don’t go out there and catch too many ‘eaters’ doing this…it’s a big-fish bite. The big ones are generally eating tullibee, smelt or whitefish.”
If Al sees baitfish breaking on the surface in the evening, he’ll reel in his Shad Rap and troll a #11 Original Floater on a planer board at 10′ or shallower in basins as deep as 40-100′.
> “You would be amazed at what you catch doing this for a couple hours in the evening. In the last 5 years, a lot of anglers have been tuning into this.”