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


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