Trolling for walleye is among the only methods to seek out and set off them in July and August. From the Canadian Defend to huge rivers, prairie potholes, and the Nice Lakes, pulling quite a lot of displays helps cowl water searching for energetic, catchable fish at a time when walleyes are scattered and forage is considerable.

Many prime guides and match opponents troll to place fish within the boat when the chips are down. Usually, their techniques are variations of well-liked trolling strategies modified to greatest match their favourite fisheries, and tweaked to match the circumstances and temper of the fish.

Saginaw Methods

Former In-Fisherman PWT champion and walleye knowledgeable Mark Martin of Twin Lake, Michigan, has trolled numerous lakes and river techniques in his profession. He provides Lake Huron’s storied Saginaw Bay for example of a number of trolling patterns that usually exist inside a single fishery.

“July and August on Saginaw Bay supply a potpourri of productive patterns,” Martin says. “One of the crucial neglected is the shoreline weed chew. Many anglers go away weed walleyes of their wake on the best way to troll deeper waters, however why drive previous fish if you do not have to?”

In response to Martin, alternatives to play the inexperienced card abound. “Just about the entire west aspect from Bay Metropolis State Park as much as Au Gres has coontail, cabbage, and a mix of each. It is a comparable situation going the opposite course, from the facility plant out to Sand Level. Walleyes of all sizes, together with fish as much as 9 or 10 kilos, inhabit vegetation all summer time, and trolling is a good way to catch them.”


Martin plies vegetation with a two-hook Northland Fishing Deal with Baitfish Spinner Harness with a #4 holographic Baitfish-Picture blade in perch, emerald shiner, or gold perch patterns. He ideas the rig with a 6-inch Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawler, since quite a lot of bait-stealing small fish make fishing with dwell nightcrawlers a irritating train in rebaiting. “To scale back weed fouling, do not run your hooks during the Gulp! Nightcrawler,” he says.

“The rig is much extra weedless with out the purpose, barb, or bend protruding.” He fishes the rig on not than a 3-foot chief, and when tying his personal he makes use of 15- to 17-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon, explaining that fluoro permits a steel clevis to spin at slower speeds than mono. “I can add one or two of Northland’s cork floats to the road for further carry, and troll below 1 mph,” he says.

He trolls the setup behind considered one of Northland’s Slick-Stick backside bouncers, which slides on the road forward of the swivel linking chief to mainline. “These are probably the most environment friendly bouncers for weeds,” he says. “The load components the vegetation for a second or two, permitting a spinner rig on a brief leash to shoot the hole earlier than the curtain recloses.”

Martin says Saginaw Bay’s weedline is irregular and usually lies in 8 to 12 ft of water. “One of the best ways to troll it’s hand-holding a trolling rod and line-counter reel loaded with 10-pound Berkley FireLine, preserving your line at a 45-degree angle,” he says. “With a number of individuals on board, run the heaviest weights within the entrance of the boat, to keep away from tangles. Say, 3 ounces on the entrance line, a 2-ounce Slick-Stick within the center, and 1 to 1½ ounces on the strict traces.

“Watch your sonar whereas trolling out and in of the weedline,” he continues. “Take note of plant top. After they come up 2 to three ft off backside, begin occupied with pulling out as a result of by the point you do, they will be 7 ft excessive. In sparse vegetation it is doable to mark fish. While you see one, bang your bouncer on backside a number of occasions to get their consideration. It is like blowing a grunt name at a whitetail buck. You need the walleye to know your rig is there and key in on it.”

Saginaw Bay additionally provides a basin chew. “Walleyes may be in 15 to 35 ft of water,” he says. “Do not simply put your traces out and begin trolling. Spend time searching for pods of baitfish on sonar. The bait is usually suspended, and energetic walleyes usually make upward forays to feed on them. Do not hesitate to ship a backside bouncer rig down to take a look at fish marked tight to backside and do not spend greater than 20 minutes making an attempt to get backside fish to chew otherwise you’re losing your time.”

Martin’s open-water arsenal consists of ‘crawler harnesses with bright-colored #6 holographic blades, trolled 1 to 1.8 mph. In 2 ft or much less of floor chop, rigs path 8 ft behind an in-line weight. “When the wind picks up and swells get larger, surge turns into an element, so you should exchange the in-lines with clip-on weights 50 ft forward of the rig,” he says. With both system, mainline is 12-pound Berkley XL, the stretchiness of which permits hanging walleyes to suck the harness far sufficient in for stable hookups, he says. “Some days leadcore works nicely, too,” he provides. “It pays to experiment together with your weighting techniques.”

Martin additionally trolls crankbaits on the bay—typically in the identical unfold as spinner rigs. “To some anglers it is heresy to combine spinners and crankbaits,” he says, “but it surely works wonders at speeds as much as 1.8 mph. If I must go sooner, I swap to all cranks.”

High lures embody deep runners just like the #12 Rapala Husky Jerk Deep Diver, #9 Rapala Tail Dancer, 43â’„8-inch Storm Authentic ThunderStick Deep, and measurement #5 or #7 Rapala Shad Raps (he likes each the rattling, plastic RS collection and common balsa fashions equally nicely). “You may also pull quite a lot of shallow runners behind leadcore, in-line sinkers, or clip-on weights,” he provides.

Martin spreads his traces port, starboard, and aft with a flotilla of planer boards and stern planers. On the whole, he presents each rigs and crankbaits within the prime half of the water column, “Divide water depth by two and fish up from there,” he says. “Begin halfway down and if you happen to’re not getting bit, hold transferring your lures increased, even if you happen to’re not marking fish that prime. Saginaw walleyes holding on backside aren’t shy about dashing up and grabbing rigs 2 or 3 ft below the floor.”

Hawkeye Patterns

Longtime information and In-Fisherman confidante Doug Burns trolls up walleyes all summer time lengthy on Iowa’s downsized but fish-rich model of the Nice Lakes. His pet trolling sample for connecting with hot-weather walleyes entails trolling crankbaits over the largely featureless abyss of Spirit Lake’s sprawling basin.


“Spirit Lake is an enormous bowl,” Burns says. “From drop-off to drop-off on every shoreline, it is principally a 20-foot flat, aside from an extended trough on the east aspect of the lake that drops to 22 ft. Generally walleyes are within the trough, however for probably the most half they’re within the basin.”

Burns says walleyes comply with their stomachs into the basin. “Our principal forage is spottail shiners and perch,” he says. “Spottails get into the basin in early summer time, normally round June, and 1½- to 4-inch perch additionally transfer out to feed on bloodworms.”

He depends on sonar to seek for baitfish and the bigger marks of hungry ‘eyes shadowing the forage. Trolling a feeding frenzy may be productive, however not all the time. “I goal feeders on bait first, however typically it will get to the purpose the place you have got too many baitfish,” Burns says. “When you do not get bit trolling by means of baitfish and walleyes, transfer away from that space. Not far, perhaps 1 / 4 to half mile. Simply far sufficient to seek out walleyes which have just lately eaten and are an hour or two from consuming once more. These fish aren’t actively feeding, however you may typically get them to chew.”

When he finds fish, he trolls hardbaits from 2.5 to three.5 mph. “I exploit a precision, dual-power strategy,” he says. “I interact my Mercury kicker simply sufficient to virtually attain the pace I would like, then let my Minn Kota Terrova do the remainder. With the trolling motor linked to my sonar and GPS, I can repeat productive trolling paths and modify them as wanted when the fish transfer.

“Summer time walleyes like pace and course modifications, so I exploit the ‘rabbit button’ on my bowmount distant for a burst of pace whereas turning proper or left. The mix makes a pointy nook that cracks the whip together with your outdoors traces whereas the within traces decelerate. Try this two or 3 times to make the baits dance and alter course, then return to straight and regular for some time.”

Burns favors shad-bodied baits over minnow imitators. “Shad profiles are key on this system,” he says. “I run smaller lures in late June and early July, comparable to #4 Rapala Shad Raps and Berkley Flicker Shads. Bass-type baits like Wiggle Warts, Bandits, and Bombers are additionally good; 5A or 6A Mannequin A Bombers are particularly good behind planer boards, increased within the water column. They’re a bit bolder and observe true at speeds of three mph or extra.”

He additionally provides #5 and #7 Rapala Scatter Rap Crank Shallows and Scatter Rap CountDowns to the combo, often experimenting with smaller lures like Rapala’s Extremely Mild Shad and Extremely Mild Minnow. “Perch and shiner patterns are perennial producers, however gaudy colours have their moments,” he says. “I begin with at the very least one pink or purple within the combine and go from there.”

Burns’ depth preferences and weighting strategies are a examine in range. He usually runs most baits near backside, the place they produce eater-sized walleyes with the occasional huge fish. However he retains a lure or two across the center of the water column to select up larger fish. Weighting choices embody Off Shore Deal with Tadpole resettable diving weights, together with leadcore—4 colours of which hold his baits near backside at 2.5 mph. He favors a 15-foot braid chief when fishing leadcore, which telegraphs lure motion. “Even with small lures, I can see a bit vibration on the rod tip and inform when the bait is fouled,” he says. “With Tadpoles, a 4-foot chief is loads.”

As for the summer time outlook, Burns notes that Spirit Lake’s walleye fishery is in glorious form, with “a bunch of fish within the 23- to 27-inch vary, plus good year-classes between 14 and 18 inches.”

Huge River Bounty

Summer time trolling is not only for nonetheless waters. Mississippi River information Marty Hahn plucks plump walleyes from Swimming pools 3 and 4 in July and August. One among his favourite patterns is slowly pulling 1/16-ounce weedless jigs tipped with a leech or half a ‘crawler downcurrent in flows of .7 to 1.3 mph.

“This sample works on the principle river in low flows, and in backwaters when the principle river is transferring too quick,” he says. “Discovering the fitting present pace is extra vital than concentrating on a selected sort of construction or backside content material, though clambeds with the correct quantity of circulation may be particularly good this time of 12 months.”

Hahn says 8-pound Berkley Trilene Sensation monofilament mainline permits the jig to succeed in backside on an extended forged in depths of 12 ft or much less, which is one other cornerstone of the system.

“Walleyes usually flip and transfer with the present after they chew,” Hahn says. “Because you’re trolling downriver, bites really feel like a refined tick—the sort you get on a livebait rig—as an alternative of the crushing strike of a river walleye hitting a crankbait trolled upcurrent. While you really feel a tick, comply with the fish again together with your rod tip, however do not open the bail to feed it line. When the road tightens and you’ll’t lengthen the rod tip any farther, make an extended, agency, sweeping hook-set. Do not be light about it. You must compensate for the fish coming at you, having a weedguard on the jig, and the stretch of mono mainline.”

He additionally fishes the featureless “no man’s land” of Lake Pepin, which capabilities very like a river-run reservoir and lacks considerable circulation. “The suspended chew right here is neglected,” he says. “It is a shad-based sample that may be so simple as trolling #7 Shad Raps, Jointed Shad Raps, and Flicker Shads at 1.5 to three mph on superline or leadcore, 10 ft down in 20 ft of water.”

Whereas it helps to find baitfish on sonar, such sightings aren’t a necessity. “Generally you are grinding it out, attempting to find scattered fish with nothing on the display screen,” he says. “You must keep targeted as a result of the rewards are value it. This can be a big-fish sample that produces numerous walleyes from 23 to 27 inches.”

Lake of the Woods

On the U.S. aspect of Lake of the Woods, veteran information Jon Thelen trolls minnowbaits to seek out walleyes scattered over the offshore basin. “The north finish of the lake is wealthy in construction and walleyes might take up residence on a reef or level, however the southern finish has far fewer of those fish-holding areas, so walleyes transfer out to the basin for the summer time,” he explains.


Right here, walleyes roam comparatively soft-bottom areas in depths of 30 to 35 ft. “Their summer time vary covers an enormous space,” he provides. “The fish may be wherever from 3 miles offshore to twenty miles up the lake.”

In such expansive fishing grounds, it is clever to seek out fish earlier than wetting a line. “Blind trolling is a gradual solution to discover needles in such an enormous haystack,” he says. “My Humminbird Helix 12 marks fish at 20 mph, permitting me to shortly observe down faculties of walleyes that could be miles aside. At such speeds, the fish present up as a streak, so I flip round, decelerate, and get a greater really feel for what they’re earlier than deciding whether or not to start out dropping traces.”

Minnowbaits are Thelen’s weapon of alternative as soon as fish are discovered. “Trolling small, shallow-running, stickbait-style lures just like the 2½-inch Cotton Cordell Wally Diver has lengthy been a favourite on the south basin in mid- to late summer time,” he says. “The Wally Diver’s slender profile and tight wiggle mimic the motion of shiner minnows, that are the lifeblood of the fishery and a staple of sauger and walleye diets. Downriggers have been the standard supply system for many years. However lately, of us have additionally discovered the way to get these baits down with leadcore, which can also be extraordinarily efficient.”

To extend his odds of sailing bigger fish in July and August, Thelen upsizes from a Wally Diver to a 4½-inch Smithwick Floating Rattlin’ Rogue, which dives from 4 to 10 ft on the troll. “Lake of the Woods additionally has tullibees, which add one other dimension to the meals chain,” he says. “A Rogue provides the identical slim profile and tight motion because the Wally Diver, in a much bigger package deal that is extra interesting to walleyes searching for a bigger meal. Switching to a Rogue means that you can type by means of fewer 12-inchers whereas concentrating on bigger slot fish for the livewell and trophies for launch.”

With each the Wally Diver and Rogue, he favors shades of gold or silver, which “produce some flash and appear to be the pure meals selections.” However when robust winds muddy the basin’s water, he opts for brighter patterns.

He is no stranger to trolling up summer time walleyes on quite a lot of different fisheries. He used to fish the In-Fisherman Skilled Walleye Path (PWT) and presently travels the Higher Midwest and southern Canada filming Fish ED tv and on-line programming for Lindy Fishing Deal with. “Basin trolling is an element wherever you have got an absence of deep construction coupled with an abundance of meals in some form of featureless ‘center of nowhere,'” he says. 

On some lakes, he makes the identical midsummer swap from small to upsized stickbaits that he does on Lake of the Woods. However not all the time. “In some instances, it is dependent upon the meals supply,” he explains. “Smithwick Rogues are efficient on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake, which additionally has tullibees. However on North Dakota’s Devils Lake, the place the fish are used to smaller meals like juvenile perch, freshwater shrimp, and minnows, I follow the smaller Wally Diver all season.”

Thelen says that Rogues aren’t only for basin trolling the place giant forage is offered. “I troll them on construction, too,” he says. “For instance, after I’m on a Canadian fly-in journey and walleyes are regarding a breakline, trolling a bigger stickbait persistently catches bigger fish than a standard jig-and-minnow or jig-and-plastic presentation.”

Paradise Discovered

Excessive Plains information Matt Liebel fishes North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea, the place a rejuvenated walleye fishery helps overcome summertime challenges. “It is most likely probably the most tough time of 12 months to find fish as a result of they’re so unfold out, however due to a file walleye inhabitants, it is nonetheless doable to catch huge numbers of fish trolling,” he says.

Living proof: Whereas checking a 10-mile stretch of shoreline final summer time, Liebel landed 60 walleyes in 5 hours. “I left the touchdown at 7 a.m. and ran two crankbaits in 10 or 11 ft of water,” he recollects. “I by no means circled as soon as. Simply saved trolling down the financial institution. Some spots weren’t that sizzling, however others have been lights out.”


Liebel’s sport plan consists of trolling flats close to the previous river channel, usually in 10 to fifteen ft of water however typically as shallow as 3 ft, when a good wind blows into flooded grasslines or different cowl because the impoundment reaches its high-water mark in July. “Again bays may be sleepers,” he provides. “Most individuals overlook them, but when baitfish are in there, so are the walleyes—even in water temperatures within the higher 70s.”

He leans on crankbaits just like the #11 Berkley Flicker Minnow, #7 Flicker Shad, and #5 Jointed Shad Rap. He additionally fishes quite a lot of beefy Bagleys and Salmo Hornets. A typical four-rod setup consists of two 12-foot poles and two 5-footers. Fished off the edges of the boat, the lengthy rods are loaded with 10-pound-test superline mainline, which is linked to the crankbait with a dual-lock snap; 100- to 150-foot letbacks are typical, however fluctuate in accordance with depth.

“Brief rods are fished straight out the again of the boat,” he says. “I run 18-pound leadcore with a 15-pound FireLine chief on these rods, even in shallow water, as a result of the leadcore helps the lures observe higher and scale back tangles. With most baits, one colour is loads to succeed in the fish.”

Trolling speeds usually hover between 2.5 and three mph, however Liebel does not hesitate to place the hammer down and hit 3.5 mph when the walleyes are up for it. “Pushing your pace reduces the variety of small fish you cope with,” he says. “Improve it so long as the larger ones hold biting.” Simply one other well timed trolling tip that will help you boat extra fish this summer time.

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