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Structure is the Key for Summer Walleyes
By John Campbell

    One of the most basic concepts of fishing is the fact that to catch fish, you must find them.  Too many people get hung up on lure style, type color, and an array of other factors.  Sure it's important to have the right bait down there for fish to hit.  The best bait in the world will do you no good unless you get your lure within striking distance of the fish if you want to catch it.  Finding fish in the summer can be a little more difficult than it is at other times or the year.  In the 
spring, it's usually a pretty safe bet that fish will be in the vicinity of their spawning grounds.  In the summer ol' marble eyes can be almost anywhere. 
    First of all, note the water clarity.  If the lakes we're on have dirty or stained water, the fish could be over shallow humps or points.  If, on the other hand, the water is exceptionally clear, they could be located near deep sunken islands or deeper points.  Usually though, on most lakes I'll begin my searching for walleyes on the weedline.  Walleyes use the weedline more than many anglers think.  Backtroll the weedline quickly, searching for active fish. 

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motor might want to try a Lindy Rig, while the other angler tosses a Max Gap with a leech up into the weeds a little ways.  Using this method you can cover a pretty wide area of the weedline.  Vary the depth and speed of your backtrolling approach.  If you don't find any biters on the weedline, try the points, flats, and sunken islands. 
If you don't find any biters on the weedline, try the points, flats, and sunken islands.  Cruise over these areas, keeping an eagle -eye on your depth-finder.  If you notice a little irregularity on a structure, work it.  For instances, if a little point comes off the side of a sunken island, concentrate on that area.  Those tiny spots often hold big walleyes or schools of fish. When you see a school of fish on your sonar unit, note their position.  If they're flat to the bottom, they might be inactive and tough to catch.  If they're a foot or two off the bottom though, work them hard.  They'll probably bite if you put the right bait in front of them.  This point became very clear to me on a large Midwestern lake last year.  I could see walleyes two feet off the bottom on my Bottom Line unit, but they wouldn't hit my jig.  I must have tried six different colors trying to get those fish to bite.  They wouldn't take the bait unit I switched to a Lindy Rig with a leech and set the snell length about 30 inches from the soft stop snubber.  The next time I saw the fish on my Bottom Line graph, I had a strike within five seconds. 
They were the same fish that wouldn't touch a jig, but couldn't stay off my rig.
    The best method to catch spring walleyes also depends on the stage of the spawn period you are fishing.  Walleyes are the one fish species that the right rod makes the difference.  Being able to feel that subtle bite can only happen with quality rod.  I prefer a 6'6" or 7' graphite rod, medium action with a fast tip, like a Shimano Scimitar spinning rod.  The Shimano Stradic s is my choice for the reel because I like the front drag feature.  In addition, the stainless steel 4 ball bearings provide a smooth reel and a smooth reliable drag.  If the fish are 
between the spawn and resting period, I use four-pound test Stren Magnathin line with 1/16 oz. jig tip with a fathead minnow.  If the rest period is over and the fish are back in their spawning areas feeding, I go up to six pound Stren Easy Cast line and 1/16 or 1/8 oz. jigs depending on the wind and water depth.  I use Fuzzy-E- Grub jigs and the Techni-Glo jigs in 1/16 oz. for depths to 15' and 1/8 oz. for 15' and deeper, or on windy days in shallow water.  In either case, my line choice is the choice of line is Stren.  I know from experience that the line has strength, low visibility, and low memory in cold weather.  New emerging weeds are usually the best areas to find these fish but also rock and wood shorelines are outstanding locations.  Keep in mind that wood cluttered bottoms are one of the best summer walleye producers, but you might have to carry a large supply of jigs.  Normally you either cacth fish or lose a jig to the wood.
The important thing is to keep moving until active fish are found.  Don't waste time on walleyes that won't bite.  Remember, finding structure will help you find the walleyes.  For more information about finding walleyes on structure drop me a line on the web at  www.walleye.info.  Hope to see you on the water soon!

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