By Charlie Mason
Now that we are into the summer months on Lake Erie, often anglers are targeting walleye down in the water column. Makes sense the water is warm and eyes love the cooler temps. Don’t get stuck in this mindset though, because if you do, you will be missing out on some actively feeding fish as low as only five foot below the surface of the water.
This is one reason I like big blades on Lake Erie, the bigger the show the better. Erie is not the biggest of the Great Lakes, but still in comparison to inland lakes, she seems pretty vast. The bigger the flash the better, it gives the fish something to see, to catch their attention in all levels of the water column. I will fish a #5 blade if I have to match up a color to a particularly tough bite, but will take a #6 Colorado in Northland’s Baitfish Image Blades all day when given the chance. Not only are they big, but that foil background gives it a unique flash compared to other blades. In these blades I like to get them by the bulk package of 25, when I know a color works, I tend to make up a lot of harnesses and run them until the bite tells me to change color patterns.
To set my lines this high, I might only run them 15 to 25 feet behind my inline planer boards. To get some separation between the board and the rig I will run anywhere from an 1/4 to one ounce weight. After years of playing around with this system to get it dialed in, I find that there is a fine line between the depth of the fish, and the speed in which they want the presentation.
Also, when running baits up high, I like Northland’s combination of two willow blades on a harness, the Mr. Walleye Willow Crawler Haulers. I call running this type of harness as providing the Max Flash to the fish below. Not a lot of vibration when compared to the Colorado’s, but with the two blades together, it gives an even bigger presentation for the eyes to hone in on.
With the warmer weather, for me personally, this is a morning type approach. As the sun comes up higher, the fish will settle back down towards the bottom, and often move on to deeper water. Typically now, say from 23 foot of water, out as far as 28 fow, or just across the Ohio line when starting out in Michigan waters. On the flip side of the coin, also try this approach if you are fishing after dusk.