Weedy walleyes in the late summer
We were pre-fishing for a bass tournament on the Mighty Mississippi when my partner set the hook. The fish, a beefy 23-inch walleye, rolled in the current just off of a grass clump in a couple of feet of water. While we did manage to catch both smallmouth and largemouth in the spot (which was loaded with baitfish), it was the walleyes that owned some of the prime underwater real estate.
That’s not an uncommon occurrence in current during the late-summer, particularly if the pin minnows or shad are balled up in pockets of slack water. But I recently encountered some weedy walleyes on a lake in northern Minnesota as well while my brother-in-law and I were tossing swimming jigs and other soft plastic to weedy points, basically hoping to pick up some northerns or smallmouth.
At one point, in four feet of water, he set the hook and hauled out a decent walleye. I marked the spot, figured it was probably a fluke, and kept fishing. But I also knew that probably wasn’t a loner walleye, so 10 minutes later we were back catching more. They were tucked tight into the weeds and hungry.
It’s not rare to hear folks talk about walleyes using weedbeds, but my experience with a fair amount of fisherman is that they don’t target them in the salad. Traditional walleye setups aren’t overly effective in the weeds, which means you’ve probably got to adopt something out of the bass world that looks like a minnow and is designed to get through the cabbage.
Mostly for me, this means swimming jigs that somewhat match the likely forage. These lures allow you to cast into thick stuff, fish at any depth, and cover a lot of water until you strike a school. As an added bonus, just about everything that swims eats them, so it’s not just walleyes that’ll end up bending your rod.
There are other options, too, with a weedless jighead tipped with some sort of minnow-looking plastic taking second place in my book. Occasionally, when one of these lures reveals a walleye where they aren’t supposed to be, it can be a good idea to get in there with bait and really target a specific spot to see just how many are holed up.
Either way, if your once-productive flats, humps, and reefs have gone a little cold, take a look around. There might be a patch of vegetation nearby that is being used by more than just bass and northerns.