When they abandon their usual habitat, here’s how to find…
Walleye in the Weeds (Part 1 of 2)
By Bernie Barringer
Walleye are known as the fish of deep water, edges, humps, rock piles, and what pinpoint fishermen call “the spot on the spot.” If you read books about how to fish walleye and watch DVDs you won’t notice more than a passing mention of walleye in relation to submerged vegetation. Yet walleye, like all fish, go where the food goes. And sometimes, the food is in the weeds.
Most fish spawn in the shallows in the spring. They’re looking for warm water and cover in the form of vegetation that will give their young a fighting chance at survival. By early summer, young-of-the-year prey fish move out a little deeper and that’s when the deeper weeds hold the most fish. Predatory walleyes follow in large numbers. They’re actively feeding and relatively easy for fishermen to catch.
1. Find Weeds That Hold Walleye
Two primary types of weeds attract fish, Pondweed and Milfoil. Other types of vegetation will hold some fish at times, but these two types are the most consistent, and pondweed tops them all. Most anglers refer to pondweed as “Cabbage.” I have no idea where that name came from because it looks nothing like a head of cabbage, but the name sticks so that’s what we will call it.
Don’t assume all cabbage varieties are the same. Of the several varieties, the wider the leaf the better; wider leaves create more shade and cover. Curly-leaf pondweed comes up quickly in the spring, but begins to die off in midsummer.
Milfoil can be good at times, particularly if you find it in a lake with little or no cabbage. Northern Watermilfoil is called Coontail in many places. This is not to be confused with Eurasian Milfoil, an invasive species which has a bad reputation among fisheries managers and water skiers, though not so bad among fish.
2. Use Search Techniques in the Weeds
If the food is in the weeds, and the walleyes are in the weeds, how do we go about finding them and getting them out? I can give you literally dozens of instances where bass fishermen – I or someone I know – have discovered a walleye hanging off a spinnerbait hook, a bass jig or a crankbait while fishing for bass in the weeds.
So the best place to start learning how to fish walleye in the weeds is to use a search technique – using a bait that moves fairly fast. Then when you contact a walleye, slow down and work the area over thoroughly with a jig. You can tip your jig with a minnow, a Powerbait, or just a twister tail. When you get the bait in front of a fish, they will bite it.
Next time… Specific tips on how to catch walleye in the weeds.
See More Tips from Bernie on How to Fish Walleye, Click Here
About Bernie Barringer:
Bernie Barringer is a lifelong angler who has competed in professional walleye tournaments. He enjoys fishing for all species and writing about his experiences for many outdoor magazines. Bernie is also editor of Bear Hunting magazine.
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