Early summer brings with it many great opportunities, especially if you’re a walleye fisherman. With water temperatures on the rise old marble eyes starts to get his metabolism cranked up on high and there is nothing he can do about it. Fortunately for us it comes at time when the overall forage base is at a seasonal low. If you combine an uncontrollable appetite with a low forage base you come up with a situation that demands to be taken of advantage of. Getting in on your share of the fun requires a little understanding of how spring walleyes slide into the summer mode.
Where and when early summer walleyes can be expected to be found depends on a number of things, like the type of lake you happen to be fishing and the prevailing weather conditions. Weather is the key to pushing early season walleyes into their summer patterns and the earlier the spring and the quicker the warm up the faster those patterns will set up. Late springs and slow warm ups can stall things out, and it may take a bit longer to get it all going.
As mentioned before it’s good to be warm, especially early in the season. Without the heat the early season action never seems to get as hot as it otherwise would. In fact you can completely miss the hottest action of the summer season if you don’t get the right weather. There isn’t anything you can do about though, other than realize the condition exists and try to adjust.
When a summer slide stalls out the early season patterns can be extended and you may have to stick it out in areas that have usually dried up by now. In many cases that can mean working shallow rock and gravel piles, break lines, weed lines, and the backs of creek arms and bays, depending if you’re fishing a natural lake or reservoir.
On the other hand warmer water temps can make things happen much earlier than you might expect. Knowing when it happens is a matter of considering the type of weather leading up to this point, and then doing a little investigative work. Another key is when the typical early season patterns completely dry up.
If you head back to where they were and keep coming up empty you can bet they haven’t been all get caught and had to have gone somewhere. Somewhere can vary but it’s typically deeper with underwater points, humps, break lines and transition lines getting the bulk of the new arrivals.
Fortunately for us deeper walleyes are easily found with good electronics like the Raymarine C120, which can be configured as a chart-plotter and digital fishfinder. A high definition digital color graph like the C120 will reveal everything you need to know including whether or not fish are holding tight to the bottom, or if there is any baitfish present, or just exactly where the transition lines are. Take a look up and down any break line or drop off, across the top and along the bottom edge of any underwater structure, and along any transition line as far as it goes. If you a mark a fish or two look closer and see if you can find any concentrations. If you do you might consider dropping a maker as it’s rather easy to lose track of what you just found.
A G.P.S. can be a big help in that regard and should show you enough information to keep you exactly where you want to be. The Raymarine C120 with its chart-plotter will show you where you’ve been and where you’re going. With a push of a button you can place an icon on the plotter where you’ve marked fish and see if any type of pattern develops like what depth most of them are holding at, or if they show up near any type of structure. It can also negate the need to drop a marker which could be a big plus, especially if you’re fishing in a crowd.
By quickly scanning likely hangouts you’ll soon know if it’s worth spending any angling time there. If you’re seeing fish it’s time to get down to business. If not keep going until you do. If you’re marking schools of bait there’s a better than even chance there are walleyes holed up somewhere nearby and you may want to spend some extra time trying to root them out.
Once you’ve marked enough fish to give it a try you might consider working them over with a bottom bouncer and spinner and crawler combination. This particular rig is a perfect tool for exploring new waters as it allows you to cover some water and is just about foolproof. Another big plus is that a walleye’s increasing metabolism is often triggered by a little extra speed.
You can drop the bouncer to the bottom and get going, but make sure bouncer is staying with the bottom. If the depth of the area you’re fishing varies you’ll have to keep adjusting the amount of line you have out to your bouncer. To see if you’re where you need to be try letting out a little extra line and drop the rod tip toward the bouncer and see if the line goes slack. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to let out some more line or switch a heavier bouncer.
The earliest part of the summer season can make for some of the hottest action of the entire season and it will be here and gone before you know it. So many walleyes so little time.