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Summer’s fishing bounty

Fishing the Midwest

Summer fish can be found almost anywhere. This early summer walleye was in shallow water.

The summer of 2020 is here. For most anglers, spring fishing success has ranged from “pretty darn good” to “outstanding” to quote many. Summer fishing is different than spring fishing. Some people who fish refer to fishing in July and August as the “Dog Days”, and they’re not saying that in a complimentary way. However, fishing in the summer can be outstanding if we keep a few things in mind. Following are some of those things.

In the spring, fish are mostly interested in spawning, or reproducing. They crowd into the areas that they spawn in. Walleyes spawn in particular areas, bass in another, pike in another, and so on.

In the summer, the fish are interested in one thing: Eating. Now they spread out in search of food. In one body of water, the walleyes might be chasing perch or suspended baitfish or crawdads, and they’ll be in different areas to do so. Same with all the other species.

It’s good when you hit the water to have a plan. First, determine what species of fish that you want to target. We’ll have a different approach for the various species.

Let’s say you want to catch some walleyes. You probably have some knowledge of how walleyes respond on the body of water that you’re fishing. Maybe you decide to start off trolling with crankbaits or spinners. That presentation will enable you to cover water and hopefully find some active fish.

After trolling an hour or two, you should develop an idea of the walleye’s interest in getting caught. If you’re happy with how things are going, keep doing that thing. But if action isn’t what you’d like it to be, it’s time for a change. Tie on a live-bait rig and slow down. Keep a very close eye on your sonar for signs of life. With the electronics that we have access to now, we can get a pretty good idea if there are any fish down there. When you see a group of fish, and you suspect they’re walleyes, really slow down and let that live bait work. Usually you can get at least a couple to bite.

If the walleyes are playing really hard-to-get, consider switching species. Most bodies of water across North America have multiple species. Here in the Midwest, the go-to species that I prefer when I’m looking for action is the largemouth bass. These guys don’t mind getting caught most of the time. I’ll start off looking for a weedbed in eight to fifteen feet of water depending on the lake and start throwing a crankbait, probably a Strike King Pro Series in the 3, 4, or 5 size. Use the smaller number for shallow water, larger number for deeper water. You can usually get bit along the weedline doing this. Largemouth bass will make up most of your catch, but you’ll also catch walleyes and northern pike along the weedline with crankbaits.

If the crankbaits aren’t producing, tie on an eighth or three-sixteenths ounce jig head and thread a four or five inch Ocho worm onto it. This set-up will produce when the fish are finicky. If that doesn’t work, try a Ned Rig. If that doesn’t work, the fish are being awfully selective. Last choice is a jig/minnow. If they won’t eat that, it’s time to try a different body of water. Almost all the time, you can get some sort of predator fish to eat a jig/minnow combination.

Fishing in the summer can be rewarding. It’s good to be out enjoying the warm weather, and it’s even more fun to catch a few or a bunch of fish. If you keep the previous ideas in mind, your chances of catching some fish are very good.

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