Think of summer, and your mind fills with all sorts of visions, smells and sounds. Kids frolicking on the beach, burgers and brats sizzling on the grill, and you can almost here the Beach Boys in the background…. “Good, Good, Good, Good Vibrations …”. Summer means great walleye fishing action too, and keeping in mind that Beach Boys tune, “Good Vibrations” can be just what it takes to catch a bunch of fish this time of year.
The warmer waters of summer typically have fish in an active feeding mood, and more aggressive presentations are called for to trigger bites. The forage base in any given body of water is in full bloom also, and there’s a need for your offerings to draw attention to themselves in order for you to get bit. Trolling crankbaits has long been a favorite summertime tactic, and using cranks that feature rattles will add that extra vibration that will draw walleyes to your lure. Baits like Berkley’s Flicker Shad and Flicker Minnow are great examples of crankbaits designed with active fish in mind. The have moderately-high actions and built-in rattles … the perfect combination for summer walleyes.
Another situation where noisy crankbaits can shine for walleyes this time of year is when the fish are relating to weeds. In many natural lakes, weed edges are prime locations for summer walleyes, and an aggressive approach here can mean some fast fishing action. On North Dakota’s famed Devil’s Lake, casting rattle baits like the Sebil Lipless Seeker, over shallow weeds is a mainstay presentation for walleyes. It’s also a great tactic for catching a mixed bag of species including bass, pike and even the occasional muskie.
Crankbaits are not the only lures that emit “Good Vibrations” however. Another dynamite walleye presentation that has its own magic vibes is the old stand-by spinner rig. Just because its summer and the temps are on the warm side, doesn’t mean that walleyes are active all the time. In those situations when the fish are in a more “neutral” mode, spinners are a tough tactic to beat. Anglers that fish the massive western reservoirs have long relied on bottom bouncers and spinners to catch walleyes scattered across main-lake flats. These waters are rarely what one would call “clear” … in fact; fishing mud lines and dirty water is more the rule than the exception. That calls for a presentation that “rings the dinner bell” for walleyes, and few lures do that better than spinners.
The size and shape of the blade you use on your spinners will have a great effect on the amount of vibration the lures put out. A #3 Indiana style blade will send out a more subtle vibration that a #4 Colorado. Experimenting with blade size and shape will determine what vibe is right on any particular day. Northland Tackle’s Rattlin’ Rainbow Spinners take “Good Vibrations” one step further by utilizing Buck-Shot Rattle Beads to add even more sonic appeal. The rattle beads are used in place of standard beads as the body of the spinners, and can be especially deadly in heavily stained and dingy water.
Low so far we’ve discussed aggressive style presentations, but it’s not uncommon for summer walleyes to require a finesse approach in order to get bites. There are situations where you’ll find a deliberately presented live bait rig will trigger more responses than buzzing through the fish with a noisy crankbait in tow. That’s not to say that a little vibration in your technique won’t improve your odds of catching finicky walleyes however. Adding a Buck-Shot Rattle Bead to your live bait rig, just ahead of the hook, will not only add a bit of color to the offering, but that small amount of rattle given off by the bead as it bumps along below the surface, might just prove to be the winning ticket when it comes to out-fishing your buddies on your annual “fishing trip with the guys” (Bragging rights can be such an incentive).
Even choosing the right bait to put on the business end of your live bait rig can add the right sort of vibe to get more bites. Many tournament anglers and top-notch week-end warriors have learned over the years, that a big lively Creek Chub on a live bait rig starts to gyrate and dance like it’s possessed when it senses a predator near by. That vibrating “dance” not only alerts the angler that a bite could be forth coming, but the vibes sent out by the struggling Chub sends the message “Easy Meal” to any walleye in close proximity.
Jigging, while typically thought of as a cold water presentation, used primarily in spring and fall, can be very productive on summer walleyes under the right circumstances. On heavily pressured lakes or following a cold front, walleyes can hunker down on structure, and a jig dropped right on their noses might be the best and only way to get them to bite. Here again, adding rattles to the scenario can prove to be the deciding factor whether your jig gets bit, or goes unnoticed. For years we’ve said that the Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Jig was our “go-to” jig, and for good reason. It’s been proven to us time and time again, that the vibration of the rattle adds attraction to the jig. Even in clear water, we seem to get more bites on a rattle enhanced jig than on a plain jig. Bottom line is, we’ve seen numerous situations where the added rattle improved our jig catches, and we’ve yet to witness a situation where the rattle cut down the number of bites we get. The great part about Northland’s Buck-Shot Rattles is they can be added to virtually any jig. They can be purchased separately and slipped over the collar of the jig, giving your favorite “go-to” jig a vibe of its own.