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.


Recent Posts


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