Cranking Structure for Summer Walleyes

The “Dog-Days” of summer is often considered one of the toughest times of year to consistently target walleyes, but it’s really not if you look in the right places and use the right tactics. Walleyes are feeding heavily this time of year because their metabolism is running at full speed. That means their hungry and looking to bite. The key is to put a lure in front of them, and to do that you have to find them. That’s the tricky part, because in the heat of summer walleyes on many bodies of water, particularly large reservoirs, spread out along deep water structure in search of forage. That calls for a presentation that can get down to their feeding zone and cover lots of water at the same time … it calls for deep contour crankbait trolling.

Total Solutions Technique

Walleyes that inhabit large reservoirs like those found from the Dakotas to the hills of the Ozarks are occasionally caught in open water, but are more likely to spend the late summer period relating closer to deep water structure such as the old river channel, main-lake points, or deep flats. These fish may be sitting tight to structure, or hanging in what we call “the fringes”, where they’re suspended just off structure. Although considered to be “structure related”, these walleyes tend to be scattered, calling for techniques designed to cover water in order to contact good numbers of fish. Contour trolling is a deadly tactic for these fish, yet, as with the open water trolling scenario, it’s important to be reminded that these are aggressively feeding fish, and finding the fish’s “feeding zone” in relation to their location is key. Use your electronics to locate the walleyes, note their depth on the structure, and then set your lures accordingly. Depending on the depth you’re trying to reach, a weighting system added to your presentation may be needed to get the baits to the desired depth. Again, plan on running your lures just above the fish for best results.

Total Solutions Equipment

Since you’re dealing with active fish, a lure than can draw a lot of attention to itself will get you more bites. A crankbait like Berkley’s Flicker Shads are great because they have top-notch finishes that emit a lot of flash, an action that puts out a ton of vibration, and a loud rattle system that really gets them noticed. Choose the either the 7 mm or the 5 mm size depending on the size of the primary forage in the system you’re fishing. In situations where you need to get the baits down deeper than their normal maximum diving depth (a 7 mm Flicker Shad will run about 14 feet on 10 pound test Berkley Trilene XT with 150 feet of line out) you can use various weighting systems (either snap-on-line or in-line styles) to get to the depth the fish are feeding at. Trolling with no-stretch 10-4 FireLine on your reels will enhance your depth coverage as well, allowing you to add as much as 30% to the crankbait’s maximum depth range.

Long trolling rods in the 7 to 9 foot range, with medium actions are ideal for this type of trolling. Combined with a quality line-counter reels, you will be set up perfectly for trolling up a bunch of summer walleyes.

Berkley® Flicker Shad

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Berkley® FireLine®