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


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