Summer Peak Walleye

Well the calendar says it’s summer and the hot temps and hot fishing verify it. Summer is one of the best times to chase walleye IF you know where to look and how to fish for them. This month we will be covering summer walleye location, spoon trolling for summer walleye, understanding leadcore, 5 tips for more summer walleye and how to survive fishing in the heat!

Finding Summer Peak Walleye

By: Captain Lance Valentine

During each year there are times when walleye fishing peaks and anglers can take advantage of relatively easy fishing. Summer Peak is one of those times. The “Summer Peak” is a period based on the In-Fisherman seasonal calendar, which signals great fishing in a transition from spring to summer. Characteristics of the Summer Peak period include the first time water temps stay in the 70’s daily, lots of bait fish have spawned and have hatched, there is no thermocline, walleye are hungry, weeds are green enough to hold fish but not too thick to fish effectively, nights are still a little cooler than days and walleye can roam anywhere they want.

Since water temps are close to perfect and there is no thermocline yet, walleye can be anywhere during the Summer Peak and early Summer periods making finding them before fishing a must. Walleye will be grouped up, but not in the bigger, tighter schools they will be in as summer progresses. Once found, walleye are usually easy to catch but moving a lot and staying on smaller pods of fish is usually more productive than fishing one area.

Finding Shallow Summer Peak Walleye

Here are some shallow water spots to look for in Summer Peak. Shallow to mid-depth sand flats (6-15’) especially those with wood, gravel or rock spots, are a great option. Shad and shiners use these flats to spawn, and walleye know that there are easy meals around these areas. Shallow weeds become alive this time of year and walleye will cruise them looking for hiding baitfish and for cover when hunting food. Shallow points and humps close to mid-depth areas are one of my favorite areas to look for walleye this time of year. The shallow structures are great for easy feeding and being able to drop a little deeper in bad weather or to rest will attract a lot of walleye to these spots. Any place the current enters a lake or reservoir is always a great Summer Peak spot. Current brings in cooler water, baitfish and other food, oxygen and walleye flock to it, especially if it is close to one of the other shallow water hot spots.

Finding Deep Summer Peak Walleye

Walleye will also begin using mid-depth and deeper spots (15-40’ or more) this time of year. Since there is no thermocline yet walleyes are not restricted to shallow water. Tips of points that reach out into deeper water are a concentration point for groups of walleye that rest and cruise in open water, then move onto the top of the point to feed. Humps offer the same options and are one of first places to look for walleye on a body of water I’m not familiar with. Hard bottomed deep-water areas are another place to look, concentrating on where hard bottom meets softer bottom. If you are fishing a body of water with shad, shiners, alewife or other open water baitfish, walleye will start suspending and chasing offshore bait at this time of year.

Using Sonar

Since walleye are spread out all over the lake and many different depths, finding them before fishing is key to successful trips. Using traditional 2D sonar and SideScan help locate walleye in both shallow and deep waters. Understanding your sonar screen lets anglers feel confident they are fishing where the fish are and once you get some experience it is easy to determine not just fish location but also the activity level of the fish you see. Using advanced features, like the “downscan overlay” available on Lowrance units, makes it easy to spot walleye sitting in the weeds. Take some time to get your sonar set up properly and spend time learning what you see, and your confidence will increase and so will your catch!

Summer Peak is a short, but magical time for walleye anglers that provides good fishing before the hotter days and tougher fishing of the deep summer set in. Take advantage of this time by getting out, checking out the basic areas outlined above and catch some walleye!