So…between the bright skies and boat traffic and fishing pressure, the successive dog days of summer might have you feeling low and slow and less willing to go out and face the midday vacation crowds — particularly on weekends. Hard to blame you; after all, anglers shouldn’t need to keep one watchful eye on their surroundings to avoid full contact boating while attempting to keep another ‘eye on their line.
Admittedly, you can still catch fish amidst the foam and fray, although it often detracts from your overall experience. If you can’t stand crowds, the solution is either to go somewhere less popular — like a shallow river or small lake undiscovered by the boating masses — or to tackle your favorite lake at a time of day when the masses are still in bed and walleyes are on the prowl. That time of day is actually a time of night.
Night fishing is a welcome relief for those with the desire to fish during midsummer vacation season, but without the means or opportunity to get away from the crowds, at least during daylight hours. Instead, you wait until the sun dips below the horizon, the boaters withdraw, the surface stills, and all’s well with the world again until the first personal watercraft greets the new day.
On popular waters, if excessive daytime boating suppresses midsummer fish activity, its absence often seems to spur fish movement and willingness to bite at night. On deep, clear waters known for producing big walleyes, nighttime is the right time to tackle a summer hawg. Best of all, the process is not that difficult; at worst, you lose a little sleep and miss a few summer reruns as late evening makes the transition into darkness. Game on.
SIMPLICITY RULES WHEN WALLEYES RULE THE NIGHT
Ask yourself, if I were a big walleye, where would I be and what would I do come nightfall? It’s pretty straightforward, really. With the boaters absent and most baitfish unable to see well enough to thwart an attack, many walleyes move shallow to where the bait gathers: to river or stream inlets or narrows with shallow current breaks. To rocky shorelines against which walleyes can trap baitfish. To shallow rocky reefs where minnows and crayfish abound. To reedbeds adjacent to deep water. To irregularities along the edges of deeper weedbeds that interrupt baitfish movement along feeding lanes rimming the cover. Or up out of and above the same weedcover that walleyes lie in during the day, tucked down beneath the leafy canopy until the sunshine and traffic subsides. Walleyes could be in lots of places. All can be potentially good, but some better than others, depending on the local habitat. And most are potentially shallow, where you can fish effectively despite your innate discomfort and unfamiliarity at functioning in the dark.
Faced with this visually challenged dilemma, keep things simple, allowing your other senses to assist in your pursuit. For starters, perhaps your most universal tactic is to either cast or longline troll a minnow-imitating crankbait that dives just deep enough not to snag too often, yet sufficiently deep to tempt walleyes. That might be as little as a foot or two beneath the surface, although 6 or 7 feet might be the ticket where weeds are scarce and rocks line the bottom. The exact depths and places vary, lake to lake, according to available habitat and how the walleyes react come nightfall. But most of the time, you can’t go wrong with a minnow-imitator in relatively shallow water.
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