Walleye are known as the fish of deep water, edges, humps, rock piles, and if you read books about how to fish walleye and watch DVDs you won’t notice more than a passing mention of walleye in relation to submerged vegetation. Yet walleye, like all fish, go where the food goes. And sometimes, the food is in the weeds.
Most fish spawn in the shallows in the spring. They’re looking for warm water and cover in the form of vegetation that will give their young a fighting chance at survival. By early summer, young-of-the-year prey fish move out a little deeper and that’s when the deeper weeds hold the most fish. Predatory walleyes follow in large numbers. They’re actively feeding and relatively easy for fishermen to catch.
1. Find Weeds That Hold Walleye
Two primary types of weeds attract fish, Pondweed and Milfoil. Other types of vegetation will hold some fish at times, but these two types are the most consistent, and pondweed tops them all. Most anglers refer to pondweed as “Cabbage.” not known where that name came from because it looks nothing like a head of cabbage, but the name sticks so that’s what it’s referred to.
Don’t assume all cabbage varieties are the same. Of the several varieties, the wider the leaf the better; wider leaves create more shade and cover. Curly-leaf pondweed comes up quickly in the spring, but begins to die off in midsummer.
Milfoil can be good at times, particularly if you find it in a lake with little or no cabbage. Northern Watermilfoil is called Coontail in many places. This is not to be confused with Eurasian Milfoil, an invasive species which has a bad reputation among fisheries managers and water skiers, though not so bad among fish.
2. Use Search Techniques in the Weeds
If the food is in the weeds, and the walleyes are in the weeds, how do we go about finding them and getting them out? There are literally dozens of instances where anglers have discovered a walleye hanging off a spinnerbait hook, a bass jig or a crankbait while fishing for other fish species.
So the best place to start learning how to fish walleye in the weeds is to use a search technique – using a bait that moves fairly fast. Then when you contact a walleye, slow down and work the area over thoroughly with a jig. You can tip your jig with a minnow, a Powerbait, or just a twister tail. When you get the bait in front of a fish, they will bite it.