I have been involved in many discussions that focused around the strategies of locating fish. Although there are quite a number of theories that have merit, there are few anglers that disagree with the importance of focusing on edges.
Edges can be created by a large variety of situations. However, when it comes to locating fish throughout much of the open water season, it is hard to beat the edge created by the deep weedline. I find this is especially true for walleyes during the first two months of the season.
It is during this time period that a lot of changes are happening in the underwater world. The water is gradually warming, weeds are maturing, and a variety of baitfish are completing their spawning.
Food is a primary factor in the appeal of the deep weedline. It seems to be one of the focal points of baitfish activity once spawning rituals have been completed. If the weed growth is there and the depth is right, the deep weedline becomes a busy place on many lakes.
Predator fish are very aware of the feeding opportunities associated with the deep weedlines. As we all know, they are never far from their next meal. With the deep weedline offering security in depth, hiding places in the vegetation and an abundance of food, it is a natural fit for many predator fish, including walleyes.
All of the lakes I fish for walleyes in the early part of the season have deep weedlines found in the 15 to 20-foot depth. This fact is important as a really shallow weedline found in some lakes does not have the appeal that deep water weeds do.
The structure I look for is simple and basic. I like points, inside turns and locations where the edge of the weeds drops quickly into deep water.
I focus on fishing very close to the weeds as well as a few feet deeper. Because the walleyes I am targeting are usually not in the weeds, they do show up on my electronics.
However, it is important to note that some of these fish are tight to the weeds and will not show up on your screen. For this reason, if I have a stretch of water that is known to hold fish, I will make a trolling run through this area even if my sonar is showing little activity on the bottom.
My presentation comes down to two basic concepts. My favorite is the proven live bait rig. I also utilize slow death rigs on a frequent basis.
The live bait rig is really a classic presentation that is very effective and simple to fish. I utilize four to six-foot leaders tied with six-pound-test Suffix Fluorocarbon and light wire hooks. Size six usually covers most live bait options. Minnows, especially shiners, work best for me early in the year but be prepared to switch to leeches and crawlers when that bite slows.
I rarely fish slow death early in the year but I find it to be extremely effective when the water warms. I use minnows, leeches, and crawlers on my slow death hooks with a variety of Smile Blades and colors. Many times, I will put the tail of a plastic worm on my hook and tip it with some type of live bait for scent.
The key to the slow death presentation is to make sure your rig is spinning. I always check it over the side of the boat before I drop into the fish zone. I try to troll this rig at about one mile an hour.
The weedline walleye bite may not last all summer on some lakes as fish will move deeper when the serious heat sets in. However, I have found that for much of the season, the deep weedline offers consistent walleye action on many lakes.