When I first get on a heavily fished body of water, I'll start running the
lake and looking for things that aren't obvious to all anglers. For example
the things like bottom changes. You might run a straight shoreline break and
see where it changes from sand into rock or mud into hard bottom. You may even
discover a rock pile that doesn't show up on a lake map.
A lot depends on the type of lake you are fishing. Maybe I'll find
weed-oriented walleyes, and I may look for little breaks in the weed line
rather than big elongated points off shore. I'll run a straight break and
suddenly I might see a little inside turn or little turning point down the
weed line, places that aren't so obvious.
A perfect example of fishing places overlooked by other anglers is fishing on
Mille Lacs Lake. Mille Lacs lake receives a lot of pressure from the weekend
angler and many times I have seen boats on the edges of the flats and none of
them catching a fish. Yet I will move up on top of the flats and start
catching a lot of fish. The reason for this is, that as the fish feel the
angling pressure they simply move down deeper or up on top of the flats.
To find walleyes in crowded situations, fisherman have to ignore some
traditional spots where walleyes have been caught previously. I know that many
times walleyes are overlooked because they are in the weeds or they are
extremely shallow even in the middle of the summer months.
If there are weeds, I fish them. I do a lot of shallow water fishing in a foot
or two of water that a lot of times will be crystal clear. Often, I can see
the fish coming to my bait. The old rule of thumb that the light hurts the
walleyes eyes that has to be dispelled. I've caught hundreds of walleyes in
shallow water in the middle of the day, because they were spooked out of
spots, by someone else.
Of course when I look for shallow areas I keep a number of variables in place
before I look for fish in the shallows. First of all, there should be a wind.
The wind defuses the light making it easier for the walleyes to feed on
disturbed aquatic materials and second it breaks up the anglers form. The wind
makes the angler invisible to fish. Many shallow water fish are not caught
simply because they see the angler. Therefore, I make long parallel cast with
the bank and I always fish with the wind. The reason for that is to hide my
form from the fish and to make longer casts with the wind rather than against
When fishing shallow walleyes look for shade and obstructions that will give
the walleyes cover. These are great ambush spots for the walleye. Even during
the brightest days walleyes can be found in the shaded areas of rip rap and
adjacent to fallen trees, waiting to ambush their prey.
Nature can also throw a curve at the walleye fisherman. A cold front, riding
strong winds from the north, can take the zip out of the fish. I have seen
walleyes lodge their heads between boulders and won't move until you touch
them and then they simply swim away as if being brushed aside by another fish.
They seem dead and lifeless when the cold front arrives.
The technique for fishing these fish is to move as slow as they do. I might
anchor or hover over the top of a school of walleyes and slow down my
presentation by using a light jig and light line. The light jig, like a 1/8
ounce Max Gap, allows the rate of fall to be much slower and the light line
will give me less water resistance and a slower rate of fall also. Sometimes I
might even use a plain hook tipped with a nightcrawler and split shot on the
line. Again this takes time to allow the bait to sink and it should be placed
right in front of their nose, because they certainly aren't going to move very
I will move in search of walleyes, but if I have found a school of them I
might move less. I will move only about ten feet to the right or left , or
drop back twenty feet or so.
In cold front conditions I will try a variety of baits and lures to see which
one the fish like the best. All to often anglers tie on one lure at the
beginning of the day and stick to that lure all day long. When they come off
the water they still have on the lure that they used all day and probably
don't have any fish either. Be a change up person. Try different techniques
and styles, don't stop looking as long as you are on the water.
Spooky walleyes are tough to catch but if you remember these techniques you
will have continued success this summer.