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               Summer 2005 Issue

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Weed Bound Walleyes
by Ron Anlauf

There are plenty of good patterns for finding and catching June walleyes like live bait rigging break lines, or trolling crank baits on deeper shelves and drop offs, or pulling spinners behind bouncers around and over mid lake structure. Itís what you would expect, but what you might not could be the hottest pattern going and is the one that gets most often overlooked. The pattern includes weeds and lots of it, weeds that can attract and hold big schools of walleyes all summer long.

Weeds have the potential to produce at anytime and will depend on the situation, but June tops the weed walleye list. Even if there is plenty of the usual deep structure available you might still find more consistent action in and around green weeds. On Mille Lacs lake in Central Minnesota for example; by late June the majority of anglers head for offshore structure like rocky bars and deeper mud humps and completely ignore the weeds. Itís what they know and they do catch fish, itís just that the numbers of fish hanging in an around all of the weed covered flats might surprise them. It isnít easy giving up on what you know to try something new but a little investigative angling can pay big dividends.

While just about anything green and alive can attract walleyes, some of the better varieties include cabbage, coontail, and even the dreaded Eurasian milfoil. Where walleyes set up shop will depend on whatís available and there arenít many shortcuts to finding the best areas. For one thing there arenít many maps that give accurate depictions of weed types and location which means youíll have to get busy and find it for yourself. Good electronics are a must and is where a high definition graph like the Garmin 250C can be worth itís weight in gold. With a little experience youíll be able to identify weed type by what the 250C displays, how deep its growing, and where it changes to another variety. The edges and changes are key areas for locating weed bound walleyes and worth taking the time to uncover. By cruising back and forth from deep to shallow youíll be able to see how deep the weeds grow, how shallow they top out, and just how thick they are. Sparse weeds and pockets will allow you to work right through the middle of the stuff while the thickest growth may push you out to the edges. The deepest edges are where you can expect more daytime activity, while the inside edges and top of the weeds may be the key to finding active walleyes after the sun goes down.

Working the deep edge for daytime walleyes can be accomplished several different ways including trolling live bait rigs or pitching jigs. Slowly trolling a live bait rig like the Northland Roach Rig tipped with a big lively leech or a crawler is a top pick for covering ground and extracting fish that are playing hard to get. The toughest part of the presentation is deciphering between a bite and a weed and does take a little time to develop the necessary feel. When a walleye picks up a bait about all youíll feel is a little extra weight (at least to start with), and if you donít drop it and let the fish run you might completely miss out. If you try to lift your rod tip to get a better idea of whatís going on, your intended victim may spit out the bait and about all youíll have to show for your efforts is a munched leech or crawler.

Clumps of weeds may be better worked by pitching a weedless jig like a 1/16 or 1/8oz Northland Weed Weasel tipped with a leech, piece of crawler, or minnow, especially if itís calm. Calm conditions make the task of detecting a light bite a whole lot easier, and detection is absolutely necessary if youíre going to be successful. To work clumps try to stay as far from your target as possible while still retaining the ability to work the edges or any pockets that may exist. With a MinnKota electric trolling motor you can quietly sneak into and around productive areas and reduce the risk of spooking fish. According to Team Crestliner member Scott Fairbairn: ďThe key is sticking with a steady speed and not starting and stopping the motor.

The start and stop will shut fish down, while a steady speed can allow you to get right over the top of active fish without spooking them.Ē Working the inside edge, over the top, and even along the deep edge after dark can be absolutely phenomenal at times and may be your best shot at nailing a real hawg. Trolling a shallow running crank bait like a Rattliní Rogue is a good choice for working the inside edge and over the top of the weed bed. A deeper diving bait like a Walleye Diver is an excellent choice for running the deep edge. The thing about night run walleyes is that they become a lot more aggressive once the sun goes down and are more apt to chase down a bait which means you donít have to perfect with your presentation, all you have to do is be close.

Having a good spot to yourself isnít all that easy to do these days but it can be done, especially if youíre willing to try something new. While the idea of weeds and walleyes isnít all that new, there still arenít that many anglers taking advantage of the situation. Learning to identify productive weed patterns will help you to become a more well rounded angler and well rounded can mean more fish in the boat. See you in the weeds.