As a fishing guide who spends a lot of time chasing summer walleyes, I like presentations that are easy to fish and put fish in the boat. Because they meet those two criteria, bottom bouncer offerings are some of my favorites when pursuing walleyes.
Bottom bouncers are L-shaped devices made from wire with two arms. From the bottom arm hangs a weight, while the other “trailing arm” as I call it, holds a snap-swivel for attaching a fishing line to. Bouncers allow anglers to fish a variety of bait presentations on the lines or snells behind them.
Two of my favorite baits to fish on bouncers are spinners and plain live bait snells. Spinners are long-time favorites to fish with these weights, and though less popularly used, plain snells are often very effective offerings as well.
Spinners baited with nightcrawlers work on lots of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs and shine for quickly covering water. In fact, during summer when the water is warm and fish are active, a spinner is a great way to move quickly searching for fish and triggering reaction bites from them when found.
Spinner size, shape, and color all factor in to the equation when trying to piece together a successful presentation. For me in the waters I fish, small-to-mid-size Colorado blades usually work well. If the water is clear, I prefer metallic colored blades and in dirty or off-colored water the hotter fluorescent patterns work well. The Rainbow Crawler Harnesses and Pro-Walleye Crawler Harnesses are pre-tied spinner rigs that come in all the right colors for my spinner rig fishing.
While spinners work in many situations, the clear waters that are becoming more and more common in much of the Midwest are tailor made for more finesse. For me, that means a plain two-hook live bait snell tied on a fluorocarbon leader fished behind a bottom bouncer.
Two #4-size live bait hooks snelled about 3- to 4-inches apart on 10-pound fluorocarbon line makes up this offering. I prefer a Super-Glo orange, green, or chartreuse lead hook with a trailing red salmon-egg style hook.
While my spinners are usually pulled around a mile-an-hour or faster, this presentation can be fished slower, with about .7- to .8-mph seeming to be the most productive speed on most days.
Regardless whether pulling a spinner or “plain,” a heavy enough bottom bouncer to keep the bouncer on bottom without much additional line out is usually important. The stop-and-go, stuttering bait action a bouncer fished on a short line produces seems to entice more walleye bites. For that reason, the “one-ounce per each 10 feet of water depth being fished” rule works well in most fishing situations. That means fishing one-ounce bouncers in waters to 10 feet deep, two-ouncers in the 10-to 20-foot depth ranges, and 3-ounce bouncers beyond that.
The final piece to the equation is selecting the right bouncer. A quality bouncer made from rigid wire allows the bottom wire feeler arm to tick along bottom avoiding snags and imparting the right action. The Rock-Runner Bottom Bouncer has been my favorite for over two decades as it has accounted for lots of walleyes in the net!
If more walleyes in your net are a goal this summer, consider pulling bottom bouncers. Using them and following some of the suggestions just provided can probably help you put walleyes in the boat right now.
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!