Mike Frisch: Find the fish and more
Walleye anglers during late summer often struggle putting good catches of fish in the boat.
Lots of baitfish, a summer of fishing pressure and peaking pleasure boat traffic are all factors that can make it tough for anglers now.
A key to overcoming these factors is to stay mobile searching for fish, particularly those that are willing or can be tempted to bite. Unlike the fast bite common in spring and early summer, late-summer walleye fishing may involve more than just finding fish and assuming some will bite.
For this reason, I search for fish using sonar, but also like schools of baitfish to be in the vicinity, as well. During spring, a school of walleyes marked by sonar might be enough. Now, however, my confidence level is a lot higher if bait is present in the area too.
Great sonar technologies are available to anglers today that aid in the search for fish-holding structure, bait, and walleyes. I use Raymarine Axiom units and love their new RealVision 3D and SideVision technologies for searching under, but also out away from, the boat for fish and bait.
However, the CHIRP DownVision and CHIRP sonar technologies in these units are still the bread and butter technologies that lots of walleye anglers use to identify structure, fish and bait under the boat.
The good news is that CHIRP DownVision and sonar views are also available in the very affordable Dragonfly sonar units too, meaning anglers don't have to break the bank to get a high-quality sonar/GPS combo system that is very easy to use, but will show photo-like imagery (DownVison) of structure along with conventional sonar for fish targeting.
Because late summer walleyes often favor mid-to-deep-water structure like sunken islands, humps, and main lake points that dump into the basin, it works well to identify these spots on the GPS map and quickly cruise over them looking for walleyes and bait.
My bread and butter rig for triggering late summer structure bites is a heavy (2-ounce or more) Rock-Runner bottom bouncer, plain 2-hook snell (around 42-inches long) and baited with a nightcrawler fished around a mile an hour. I quickly make a couple passes through the fish and hopefully get bites. If so, I stay and work the area over to try to extract as many biters as possible. If not, I simply return to sonar search mode.
One little trick that adds to the catch when employing the bottom bouncer rig is the use of a colored lead hook in my 2-hook system. While the clear waters in many lakes I fish don't usually require much added attraction, I do prefer using an orange or chartreuse Super-Glo Attractor hook and have found that it usually increases the catch.
Using this "search and destroy" method, I can target a bunch of spots in a fishing day and often my guide clients put together a good catch!
If putting together a good walleye catch yet this summer is your goal, consider staying on the move to find bait and fish and using some of the techniques just described and you can probably strike walleye gold!
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure.
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visitwww.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more "fishy" stuff