Open Water Cranking for Summer Walleyes

Where’s the best place to find walleyes in late summer? Wherever the walleyes are feeding – that’s where! In this, the hottest part of the season, a walleye’s metabolism is running as high as it’s going to run all year. That’s what makes now such a great time of year … aggressive fish that are eating all the time. For years we have heard old tales about how tough fishing can be during these “Dog Days”, but in reality, if you’re not catching fish, it’s because you’re either not in the right place or you’re using the wrong approach.

One of the best places to locate and catch walleyes this time of year is in the open water basin. One of the best tactics for targeting these open water roamers will be trolling crankbaits.

Total Solutions Technique

Waters such as the Great Lakes or large natural lakes like Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago, and many of the country’s larger reservoirs feature immense areas of open water in the lake’s basin area and fishing walleyes over these vast areas has become increasingly popular over the years. Open water walleyes relate to baitfish roaming these basins in the summer. In most cases fish will be suspended in the water column, but will occasionally be found hugging the bottom. No matter where they are, keep in mind that these fish feed in an upward direction. This is important, because when running your lures, you’ll need to target depths at the same level, or above where the walleyes are located. Experimenting with lure depth will zero-in on the walleyes’ “feeding zone”, which is the depth at which they will most likely attack your bait. Many anglers make the mistake of marking fish at a particular depth, say 20 feet down over 35 feet of water, and run all their lures at 20 feet. The actual “feeding zone” of those walleyes may be at 15 feet, thus, by putting the baits below that level, they go untouched.

This style of fishing calls for covering vast amounts of water, so it only makes sense that by spreading your lures out as you troll would greatly increase your chances of contacting more walleyes. For this reason, in-line planer boards are considered essential gear for trolling. The fact is, if you’re trolling open water without boards, you’re severely handicapping yourself.

Total Solutions Equipment

The warm waters of late summer call for crankbaits with a good deal of attraction. Lures that exhibit a lot of vibration and sound, as well as plenty of flash are the ones that will serve you best. The Berkley Flicker Shads in the 7cm and even the new 9cm size are great baits for this on many bodies of water. In situations where you need to get the baits down deeper than their normal maximum diving depth (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.

Rods used for this tactic are typically long – in the 7 to 9 foot range, with medium actions. Teamed up with line-counter reels, you will be set up for any trolling scenario.

Berkley® Flicker Shad

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Berkley® FireLine®