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               Summer 2006 Feature Article

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Classic Late Summer Walleye Patterns
Rick Olson

It happens every year and this one is no different. Consistent walleyespatterns set up that can be predicted and taken advantage of. Summer water temps increase a walleye’s metabolism which can result in more poles bent and more fish boated. It all starts with a mindset that includes the fact that there are fish actively feeding, you just need to know where.

Early summer patterns typically include walleyes moving to deeper haunts like underwater points and offshore humps, but the action can be spotty at times. The problem is they don’t all move at the same time and is more of a gradually process. By late summer they’ve made there moves and are as stacked up as they can get and consistency becomes more of a rule.

One of the keys to a good deep summer move is clear water and enough suitable structure, and more importantly the presence of a preferred food source. Walleyes operate on instinct and instinct dictates that they take advantage of the most efficient feeding opportunities they can find, and there is nothing efficient about hanging out in areas with little or no opportunity for filling their bellies. A deep rocky hump can be exactly what you and the walleyes are looking for, but it better have some bait fish close by. Deep humps and points are one of the key summer locations on many of our clearest of lakes and is an important element of finding fish that can be caught during the day. The lack thereof may require drasticmeasures like fishing at night, or looking for suspended fish, or not at all, with the later being completelyunacceptable to any serious walleye angler.

The deep hump scenario falls into the category of "classic walleye behavior" and is preferred by many anglers because of it's simplicity. The whole procedure includes utilizing a depth finder and a couple of basic techniques which helps to limit the variables and keeps it all simple. After locating a likely hump and scanning it with a good depth finder like a Raymarine C series graph you can quickly figure out if anything is using the area, and if not it's time to move on. If you mark a few fish you better drop them a line and if you're marking schools of bait you might want to take some extra time looking for fish. If there's enough bait present you can bet the walleyes won't be far behind and the extra time you spend investigating can be well worth the effort.

Once you've located some likely looking targets it's time to get down to business and give ol' marble eyes an offer he can't refuse. Smaller humps and minute structure can be more effectively worked with a simple jig tipped with leech or crawler. The technique involves hovering directly over the fish and simply lifting and dropping the jig on the bottom directly in their face. If you see fish holding two, three, and even four feet off the bottom by all means try to lift the bait up and let whatever it is have a good look at it.

Fish holding up off the bottom may or may not be walleyes but you won't know until you check it out. To be effective when fishing vertically boat control is an absolute must, which can be a tall task when the wind is whipping it up and the waves start pushing you around. A powerful electric trolling motor like my MinnKota 36 volt bow mount with 101 pounds of thrust can handle the rough stuff, and can keep me on the fish when I want to be there.

Another option is dragging a live bait rig tipped with a leech, crawler, or even a minnow through the same areas. Although minnows aren't thought of as a summer time bait they definitely be the real deal, especially if you're looking for bigger fish. Not just any minnows however, but rather something from the chub family like redtails, creek chubs, or dace. The creek chub tops my list as it kicks and thrashes like no other.

It also gets hit like nothing else and walleyes absolutely pound them when they take the bait. I've actually driven for hours to get the right minnows when I absolutely had to have them for a particular tournament. Therein lies the problem with chubbing during the summer months and is the lack of availability. Certain bait shops carry the exotics year round but they're not an easy find. If they're not a real possibility forget about it and stick with you have and concentrate on putting that first fish in the boat.

There are plenty of other good solid summer walleye patterns but the simplicity of the deep hump andpoint scenario is extremely appealing. The thing is the opportunity is there and besides; What else are you going to do?