By Mike Frisch
June can be a great month to be on the water chasing walleyes! The rigors of the spawn are in the past meaning that hungry fish are usually biting, and the weather can be very cooperative now too.
Classic walleye structures like major points jutting out from shoreline flats and main lake islands and humps often begin holding walleyes during this time. A great way to find these structure fish, particularly during daylight hours, is by cruising the drop-off edges of the structure looking for the presence of “marks” on your depth finder.
Daytime walleyes often like these edges, preferring to move shallower during low light, peak feeding periods. Another advantage of early summer is that these “edge” fish can often be tempted to bite during the day fairly easily now too.
A key to this fishing starts with locating a good concentration of fish on the depth finder/GPS unit, marking the spot, and then beginning fishing. Being around plenty of fish is obviously important to up the odds for fishing success. The new Raymarine Element sonar units I have been using recently do a great job of showing me fish, even those tight to the bottom, and are super easy to use as well.
When fish are located, various lure presentations will often trigger bites. Classic walleye tactics using jigs and slip-sinker live bait rigs baited with leeches, nightcrawlers, and minnows will often yield positive results.
For me, however, I like to up my odds for success by fishing a leech or crawler on a plain live bait snell pulled behind a heavy bottom bouncer like a two-ounce Rock-Runner Bouncer. This set-up allows me to quickly cover water searching for active biters and, particularly when fished fairly vertically, imparts a stuttering action to the bait that seems to trigger bites better than many other rigs and jigs.
The heavy gauge wire of the Rock-Runner bouncer is important to imparting the stuttering action I favor, and, for a bit of added attraction, I prefer a #4 fish hook in either orange or pink to carry the leech or crawler. I’ve seen many days where that added speck of color on the hook made a big difference in upping our daily walleye catches.
When crawler rigging, it’s often helpful to tie in a second #4 hook to the snell as well. That second hook can be very helpful in hooking those short-biting walleyes!
This rigging not only does a great job of triggering bites but can be fished quicker (often effectively around .8 mph) than other presentations, meaning I can cover more water and put my baits in front of more fish during the fishing day than with other presentations.
A typical early summer fishing day with this rigging often involves checking several potential fish-holding spots and only when fishing when fish are “seen” on the locator. Several quick passes through an area often yield a few fish and then it’s on to the next spot.
Early summer and walleye fishing often go hand-in-hand for many anglers. Putting the tips just offered here to use is a good way to spend a summer day and will often lead to a fresh fish dinner too!
As always, good luck on the water, and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit Fishing the Midwest’s new website www.fishingthemidwest.com to learn more.