Weeds are often underutilized by walleye anglers, but make no mistake that catchable fish frequently lurk in the greenery. Fish may hunker down under the shade of the canopy or prowl along the outside edge. Here are a few top tactics for fishing the green stuff.
|A walleye the author caught off of a deep weed edge.|
Running shallow to moderate diving crankbaits and minnowbaits along the outside edge of a weed flat is one approach. This method quickly covers water to sift through unproductive areas and pinpoint hotspots concentrated with fish. The Rapala Shallow Shad Rap and Husky Jerk, Berkley Flicker Shad, and STORM ThinFin are all reliable options. A spinner rig tipped with a live or an artificial nightcrawler or a minnow is another good bet. Try different speeds from ultra slow to fast to see what walleye prefer.
Jerkbaits, crankbaits, and minnowbaits are all deadly options to toss to weed edges. Work the lure over the top of weeds, in lanes and openings within a bed, and around clumps. Add plenty of pauses and twitches to the retrieve as these maneuvers often trigger hits. Weed foul-ups on the trebles are part of the game, but the vibrations of these baits are deadly at coaxing weed-living walleye to attack.
Casting bucktail or hair jigs and using a rip-fall cadence is another weed-walleye technique. This method works anytime walleye are relating to vegetation for thick weeds on vast flats to isolated clumps. I use 1/4- and 3/8-ounce jigs the most. Don't be shy about really ripping a bucktail as the commotion it causes often calls-in fish.
Another weed-jigging technique is to pitch a bait into pockets, lanes and other openings in a weed bed. This is a finesse approach compared to rip-jigging. A bare bucktail jig, a marabou jig tipped with a live or Gulp! Minnow, a small paddletail shad on a ball or darter head, and a 3- or 4-inch grub on a weedless jig are four of my top presentations for this technique. Pay attention to the bait as it sinks as strikes often occur on the first drop.
Healthy weeds hold big populations of walleye, so seize any chance you get to explore these lush zones this summer.