Great Lakes Angler Blog

Bass Tactics For Hot-Weather Walleyes

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Share |

Think hot weather and walleyes don’t mix? Think again. A walleye is cold-blooded. Like other fish, their metabolism rises along with the water temperature in summer, meaning they need to eat more, not less.

Conventional wisdom, all summer long, demands dragging leeches and minnows on Lindy rigs in deeper water for walleyes. Obviously, it works. Hundreds of thousands of walleye enthusiasts can’t be wrong, especially since it’s still working after half a century.

But the walleyes conventional anglers target are seldom the most active fish around. Hard to convince people of this, but active walleyes are not on bottom in deeper water. They suspend with the baitfish, or prowl around on shallow reefs, weedbeds, shorelines, and points. With years of practice, some walleye anglers have become experts at feeding line and timing hooksets for finicky fish that hold minnows by the tail and regularly drop baits at the least sign of pressure. The only way to become expert at it is by missing a few thousand fish.

Wouldn’t you rather find walleyes that try to rip the rod out of your hands? The three primary attractions for active walleyes in summer are weeds, rocks, and suspended baitfish. Bass tactics will put you on active fish quicker and put more of them in the boat faster this summer.

Bass-Tactic Walleyes

Active walleyes can be approached like bass. Put the trolling motor down at the bow and move quickly to cover those shallow-water spots, Few of the best walleye pros use bait between the beginning of July and the end of September. It’s not necessary. Walleyes in weeds rise right into the tops of cabbage, coontail, hydrilla, and milfoil, looking for small panfish, golden shiners, shad, and any other baitfish that swim by. Bait is a perpetual nuisance here, ripping free of hooks whenever a jig or lure needs to be popped off the weeds.

Almost any lure or package in the 3- to 5-inch range that can be worked between the weeds and the surface will take walleyes here. The crux is finding lures or speeds that touch the weeds without getting too involved. Rattle baits like the Cotton Cordell Super Spot and XCalibur Xr50, pitched on casting gear with 30-pound braid, are perfect because you can simply speed up or slow down as necessary to clip along through the weed tops. During warm, stable weather, walleyes crush rattle baits all through the day. No need to wait until evening.

Minnow-shaped cranks or stick baits are deadly for walleyes. Suspending baits are especially effective, using a basic pause-and-pull retrieve, but they often dig a little too deep to work over the tops of the weeds. Where weed tops are 5 feet or more below the surface, a Suspending Smithwick Rogue or XCalibur XEE4 EEratic Shad worked with the rod tip held low will whack a lot of fish. Where weeds are 4 feet below the surface, retrieve with the rod tip held high or go with a floater-diver like the Bomber Long A and work it slow. When a floating minnowbait makes contact with weeds, stop it, feed it a little slack and let it float up. Hard plastic baits like the Long A float up slow -- an enticing trigger for walleyes skulking around in nearby weed clumps.

Tackle should be fairly stout. Unlike fishing minnowbaits in open water, these baits need to be ripped free of weeds, and after a strike the challenge becomes turning a big walleye and moving it quickly toward the boat. Don’t offer any opportunities for a trophy to turn and burrow into the weeds. Medium-heavy spinning or casting rods coupled with 20- to 30-pound braided line accomplish it best. Braids won’t stretch, so the distance the rod tip moves is pretty much the same distance you move the fish.  Where the water is clear, tie on a 3- to 4-foot section of 12- to 17-pound fluorocarbon, using a small barrel swivel or back-to-back uni knots.

Plastic Tactics

Weeds are basically ambush stations for walleyes. When they set up along the deep weed edge (a strategy often employed where perch populations are dense), approach them with slightly lighter tackle and soft plastics on jigs. Soft swimbaits like the 3.5-inch YUM Money Minnow swimming slowly by on a horizontal plane near bottom brings walleyes ripping out of pockets in the weedline.

With the boat on the weed edge, make short pitches parallel to the weeds in the direction you’re moving and let the bait hit bottom. The right retrieve speed is critical, and tends to be easiest to achieve with a ¼-ounce jighead. After selecting the right head, speed becomes a matter of keeping it near bottom without dragging. If it drags, speed up. If it never touches bottom, slow down. This is a trophy-walleye tactic that will entice more than a few largemouth or smallmouth bass hanging around in the same areas doing the same thing. Be sure to fan cast a little toward deeper water and try walking the baits over the tops and down the deep edge of the weeds, too. The right tackle for a light swimbait like this is 10-pound mono on a fast, medium-power spinning rod.

A similar tactic with slightly lighter tackle absolutely smokes walleyes throughout the open-water season around rock reefs, rip-rap, and rocky shorelines. From spring through ice-up, in areas 8-feet deep or less, try pitching an auger-tail grub, like the YUM Walleye Grub, on a 3/32- to 1/8-ounce head with 6-pound mono. The optimum gear includes a fast, 7-foot, medium-light spinning rod. Just cast to the deep side of boulders, rock piles, or rip-rap, let the jig fall to bottom (or count it down to a spot near bottom where it’s really snaggy) and slowly retrieve with the rod tip held low. Don’t jig it, snap it or rip it. Just reel.

Hard baits, plastics, and bass tactics score massive numbers and trophies from mid summer though early fall, especially during stable-weather periods. Unconventional behavior can be disturbing, though. If it sounds too radical to have a walleye rip the rod out of your hands, don’t try any of this.

GlAngler Subscription

Recent Posts


Snow-Shoe Tip-Up Tournament Grade Circle Hooks CMP Global Indiana DNR Honda ChartSelect Boat US Louie Stout Trade Shows KVD Speedbag weather Bristol Bay Salmon Davis Instruments Yamaha ATV Kill switch Rubrail Jonathon VanDam Air show Boat names jigs KVD Technology Volvo Penta Gary Dollahon Deck Plate Absolute Outdoor, Inc. Lights Safe boating Brandon Newby Ryan Kleckner RAT FINKEE Beckson Marine Minn Kota Lake Erie Baitcast Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter Ranger STRATTEC Games Brian Brosdahl OHIO Bristol Bay Airmar Chicago barrier TRAC VMC Navigation Hamlin Telescoping JIggler Long Rod Launch ramp inReach Sharpeners Muskie Lure Grand Rapids Ultimate Outdoors Show ice fishing, Bro Show, Traditions Media Clam Bass Pro Shops WeatherStation St. Croix Asian carp Sport Shows spreader light Gunnison, CO Lake Assault Berkley CLASSIC Reese spoon Lures Innovative Outdoors Gravity Insect repellent Strike King Stabenow Michigan High school bass fishing ODNR Flat Slider 75 Camera mount iPilot Link Aqua-Vu Balog EZ Dock ShowSpan Tommy Skarlis Boat maintenance Tides GPS Speedometer Custom Jigs & Spins Walleyes Bug repellent Cabela's Angler Swim bait University of Buffalo One-Handle-Does-It-All System iPilot Team Aqua-Vu Sphaera Lip-Stix Alaskan Ice Features Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo JBL Skamania Mania Port of Indiana YUM Dinger Dave Genz Beckson Soul5 Tackle Labs Moisture Muncher Smart Guide Publications Extended Warranty Mary Snyder WileyX Multitools Pharmaceuticals Invasive species Kurt Mazurek Fish Hawk XD4 Patrick Hurst Practical Sailor Dollahon Boat Covers Lund Boats Lead Scott Glorvigen DuraSafe Electronics Lock Hevi-Beads Jack Links Orca Fin System Autotether Chronglobal Glorvigen St. Croix Rods Bass lure Minnesota Gill NA MATE USA Raritan Tracker Marine La Mar USSA Mazurek Conservation Marathon Bass IGFA Aqua Vu Mercury Marine Steve Wood Bad Elf Bug bite relief Ranger VS1780 Records Fort Wayne, Indiana Green Bay, Wisconsin Mosquito repellent Traditions Media Tip-Up Streams Bibs Salmon Marine NewsWire Gene Larew Shock Wave 360 EVOLVE FISHING CO Chargers Boats Contaminants Dave Mull Blog Hobie Pro Angler Wildlife Forever Shipping Frabill Bro Brosdahl Blue Collar Outdoors Bait Rigs Army Corp of Engineers Michigan City, Indiana Okuma Contest Aquatic AV Fishing Clubs Jeff's Tackle Shop Radio Micro-Mobile Pro Viewing Case Wounded Warriors Personal Flotation Device Black Velvet MWC Matt Serbenski Blue Heron Communications Shoes LakeMaster Western States Version Uncle Norm's U.S.S.A. Beckson Marine Deck Plate Speakers Sunglasses Apps Black Earth Creek Water Buddies boat rental Ice Fishing Mr. Twister PulseTech Dollohan Brown trout Boating safety Side Imaging Tools Earth Day 1675 Pro Guide Fiberglass boat Bass fishing AmVets Turning Point Props Brite Wash Manistee Plano Corey Schmidt hardbaits LOTSA BoatUS Angler Slender Spoon Nautical Angler 175T TRAC Ecological Bob Schmidt DuraSafe Andrew Semprevivo Andrew Dordek Mystery Tackle Box NAIFC Championship HELLA iPhone Crankbait Net Whistler Spoon eZSplice Lakemaster Video YUMphibian Kindle book Whale Pumps CUSTOM JIGS 'N' SPINS Mark Zona Ethanol Gull Lake Marine blue marlin Masters Walleye Circuit Salmon Unlimited of Illinois Iaconelli Trout Unlimited Clay Dyer Safety Onyx Soft Jigwobbler Full Throttle Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Seakeeper gyro Multi-species Olcott, NY Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plate Kevin VanDam Rovermax LR 100 Gear Electronics Storage Rain gear Knife sharpening Costa Del Mar Tim Popfinger Keep Kool Tight Lines Jewelry RedHead Fish America Foundation Church Tackle Princecraft USO Whale Ranger Aluminum Deep V Series Swanson-Russell Mack's Lure Mike Seymour Chatterbait BASSMASTER CLASSIC Ultimate Flannel Shirts Macho Minnow PRADCO Glacier Glove bimini top Shoremaster Marine General Legend Extreme Lock Wind Power Grunden's Kayak Yamaha Delorme Accon Marine Rugged Shark Dave Mull exotic invader Spreads B.A.S.S. Lighting 580P lenses Downriggers SeaLife Cameras USCG YUM Side Thruster Milennia MIL-iDock Green Bay Lake Huron Betsy Tournaments Radial Lund Batteries Catfish Legend Gold Rushton Gregory Catch & Cook Free Fishing Weekend FLW Bait head Foul weather gear Plano Synergy AKOYA Optima South Haven, Michigan Size limits Goby Insurance Cannon Alaska ABT X-2 Countdown Jeff Gustafson Costa Sunglasses ATV ABT Rough Weather Pop-Up LED Bowlights EZ BoatPort NMEA Wisconsin Ned Rig Thermacell BASSMASTER Future Fisherman Foundation Z-Man Endura Marcum Rescue Sunstream Boat Lifts Jeff Wenzel Rig'N Tails cruzin Plano Tackle Boxes Traxstech Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plates and Kits Fishing LineSnubber spinning rod Deep Sea Diver Hunting Tackle Bag National Guard clubs Sheldon's tackle storage Lake of the Woods Global Spectrum Swim Whizz Accessories Coleman Humminbird GPS for Lightning Connector USCGA Prosepec Electronics Marine Speakers Lake trout Owners tournament Pro Polish Ditch Ditty bag dock lines Brian "Bro" Brosdahl Normark Lake Superior Slide Moor On board Holland Reef Runner Triton Boats Grady-White EZ Splice Fasteners Mark Chmura Forage Minnow Extreme Baitcast Reel Larson Electronics Scholarship New York Bheestie Bag Michigan DNR JVD Hobie PLB Rapala Lowrance Buff Ryan Wilson Boat lifts splice Husky Jerk Tournament Topwater Great Lakes Troller New Lures Martin-Flory DSC exotic species Niagara Falls sunglass Izaak Walton League Marine Lighting LineGrabber Vick McMurdo Smart Guide to Freshwater Fishing Cliff Pace Jerky Soo Locks Barry Brown Marine Tyee Matt Straw Big Bear Products Ascend Rippin Lips News/Social Shurhold treestand injury Acme Swedish FireKnife Mustad Youth Homeport Marine Marketing iPad Rippin' Lips Alabama Rig PFDs Monel Metal Evolve Sportsman's rights Promise Keeper Magnum Flow-Troll Line Recycle Bin Sun protection Synergy Outdoors Traditions marlin Bass Pro Shops Gift Card SeaEra QC KVD Speedbag Wormfile Marine Radio Mag Light Torpedo Divers Marsh Madness Rain suit Oculus Walleye tournament fitness Muscle Squared 65 The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls InvisaSnap Weather Buoy redfish Dan Egan Conservation News Ultracoat BOLT Padlock Gary Giudice Tom Neustrom Odd'ball Fin Spin Brad's Evinrude Personal Flotation Devices Skarlis The Harry Lure Bass Pro Shops Four-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch Rods MULL BLOG Kayaks Chaco Footwear SOG Interlux Aqualuma Fiberglass tiller Quantum mudsnail LCWCC MUSHING Fuel Bass Pro Ravenswood Media Ranger Boats Power Lake Michigan Frigibar FRIDAY FUNNIES binoculars Audio Wild River series BoatUS Coast Guard Costa Coleman cooler Serious Shine toilet Mack's Lures Boga River Fishing Lake Ontario ASA Up Stream Hydration Back Pack South Haven tree stand injury Kevin Van Dam F-Series Storm Gear Boating ONIX Home Port Marine Marketing Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Shelter Silver Horde Bethel University Knives Scott Martin Venice, Louisiana Faria Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs Titan Chain John E. Phillips Fishouflage Dogs Dunkirk, NY Oshkosh Northland Todd Sokolow great lakes Aluminum Deep V Series Walleye New Zealand Wedding Ring Smartfind S20 Personal AIS Beacon Oakley Sunglasses Headgear Wake Fishing Line WFN Spencer Yachts Bait Holder