Riege: Walleyes on the rocks in the summer

Published 5:53 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013

By Bob & Ginny Riege

Summer is one of the best times to consistently catch walleyes. Distinct patterns are much easier to set because the lake has settled and the fish are schooled and making predictable movements.

The water temperatures of summer increase the walleye’s metabolism and those fish are feeding more often and more intensely. This is the growing season for walleyes and all species of fish. They’re more active and more aggressive.

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There will usually be a number of patterns that might work during the summer period, some at the same time. However, you might find only one, maybe two, big-fish patterns.

Early in the year, they’re up shallow, then they go out to the deep water and get on the humps in the 20-foot or deeper range. When fishing these humps I rely on my depthfinder to tell me if anyone is home on these humps. I usually like to look for a good shelf that comes out from an island that has boulders on it. This is the structure that many walleye key in on to rest and ambush their prey as they slide back and forth from the hump to deep water. These are transition areas where the fish come to feed. These humps provide a structure for baitfish that have moved out into deep water as schools, and are looking for a place to rest. Naturally, what attracts the baitfish also attracts the walleye. The other thing that my depthfinder unit allows me to see is how active these fish are. Many times you can go over the hump and you will see that the walleyes are moving up to the top portion of the hump, this signifies that they are in a positive mood and within minutes you should be landing a nice plump walleye in your boat.

The sunlight penetration also makes a big difference as to where the walleyes are located on any given hump. You wouldn’t think that sunlight penetration would go down as far as 25 or 30 feet but in these clear lakes it does. So when fishing, pay close attention to the sun and make sure that you fish the shady side of that hump. More active fish will be found in this area.

I prefer shallow rock humps with big, boulder-sized rocks. I also prefer them to be fairly close proximity to shore. They don’t necessarily have to be tied to the shoreline, but they should be fairly close.

The rocks, if they are close enough to the surface, absorb heat from the sun like a solar panel. The warmth attracts minnows and you know the rest. A few scattered weeds growing up between the rocks can be a real bonus.

A wind coming into the rock pile can be advantageous, although I have enjoyed some nice catches on hot, calm days. Remember that the angle of the sun’s rays is not as direct at this time of year so the fish can be quite shallow. The direction of the wind will have a lot to do with how the fish locate. Usually they will be working the windy side of the rock pile.

You might think that the best way to approach this spot would be with a jig or a Lindy Rig. I have taken numbers of fish with rigs off the bottom. But, often times the bigger fish are taken by fan casting a crankbait.

Crankbaits like Storm’s ThunderStick and ThunderStick Jr. or a #5 or #7 Shad Rapala are good choices. Towards evening you might want to move to shallow running Shad Rap or a Rattlin’ Fat Rap to produce even more excitement.

It’s best to slowly circle the rock pile using your electric trolling motor to avoid spooking the fish. Cast right up to the edge of the rocks, using a 7 foot spinning rod with a medium fast tip, and retrieve right down the edge of the rock pile.

The key to this pattern is big rocks and humps that top anywhere from two to ten feet.

Walleyes caught casting cranks over the rocks in the summer can be exciting . Imagine the tick, tick, bump, skip… then bang! Your rod tip is bent in two. It can happen to you. Try it this summer – you won’t believe the results!