Spring walleye fishing in a lot of Minnesota lakes often means jigs or slip-sinker live bait rigs tipped with minnows and fished slowly in fairly shallow water.
As spring gives way to summer and the water warms, however, the walleyes are often more susceptible to fishing presentations that fish faster. Here is a look at a couple of my favorite “fast” summer fishing techniques.
Crankbaits become good fish catchers during late spring, and often this bite gets even better as the water continues to warm. One simple fishing method I employ with cranks is simply longline trolling shallow to mid-depth flats. Several lakes I fish have populations of walleyes that move on top of flats on windy, overcast days or during the low light periods of early morning and late evening. When those fish are present, using a shallow or mid-depth running bait, trolling around 2 miles per hour and simply covering water on large flats will often put fish in the boat.
Salmo Hornets are great baits for this style fishing. I like to fish these baits using line-counter reels, letting line until the bait bumps bottom and then reeling it up just a bit. The next time I let the bait out I know exactly how much line to let out to get the bait to the desired running depth. I have been using Cabela’s DepthMaster III trolling reels and DepthMaster XTR trolling rods for my walleye trolling. These combinations feature durable reels with reliable, accurate line counters, and the rods are designed with actions specifically for trolling.
Trolling crankbaits is one fast summer fishing technique that will put walleyes in the boat whenever they roam the shallows. During mid-day, however, the fish are often deeper and that’s when searching main lake structure like sunken islands and humps will often yield good results.
When deeper structure is fished, I trade my crankbaits for bottom bouncer/spinner combinations baited with nightcrawlers.
I use heavy bottom bouncers, usually 2- to 3-ounce models, as they allow me to fish deep water at the speeds needed to keep the blade of a fish-attracting spinner rig spinning, hopefully attracting walleyes. Productive speeds are often around 1.0 to 1.5 mph, which once again allows me to cover lots of water during the fishing day searching for active fish.
Much thought is given to spinner blade color selection. I like to keep it simple, however, and use water clarity as a guide in helping me select which spinner rigs to use. When the water is clear, I opt for metallic colors, while off-colored waters call for some of the brighter colors.
I prefer Pro-Walleye Crawler Harnesses for much of my spinner fishing, using the UV Silver Christmas and UV Gold Christmas patterns in clear water, and the UV Hot Steel and UV Tiger patterns in off-colored waters.
Whether the waters you fish are off-colored or clear, odds are good that the walleyes in those waters will be susceptible to fast fishing methods this summer. Using the tips just presented can help you get in on some fast fishing.
As always, enjoy your time on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more “fishy” stuff.