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Walleyes in Full Bloom
By Jason Mitchell

Algae blooms are a reality during the dog days of summer. Unsightly and unpleasant, many anglers pack their bags once the water warms up and turns green. The truth is however some of the best fishing of the year takes place under such conditions. Two patterns unfold for us each year during algae blooms and both these patterns involve using crankbaits to catch some of the biggest walleye we see each year. On Devils Lake were we make our livings as guides, green scum on the water seems to send fish into one extreme or the other. We either find fish really deep or really shallow. Thatís right, scum on the water will sometimes bring fish into a few feet of water right in the middle of summer when the water is at its highest temperature. Donít ask me the details as to why because this goes against traditional thinking but a quick look along the shoreline will reveal a rich assortment of everything from young of the year baitfish to emerging leopard frogs. When the water turns green, you really need to look shallow if you are struggling to find fish. Now for the other extreme. It is true that we find some exciting patterns in shallow water during the heat of summer but most of the fish seem to be relating to the basin of the lake. More specifically, either the basin itself or the edge where the bottom composition transitions from hard to soft. Either shallow or deep, crankbaits are an excellent tool for eliminating water, triggering fish and working your way through the slime.

One mistake we see many anglers make whether they are fishing shallow or deep is fishing too slow. These fish seem to like speed, not to mention you will get a little more kick out of a slimed up crank bait at higher speeds. Pumping the rod, stops in the retrieve and the like still trigger fish, just donít be afraid to work water fast because a school of fish during this situation is often aggressive and will let you know their location. These fish seem to like a little heat on the lure and a faster retrieve or trolling speed is often the most productive. An average trolling speed might be 2.5 to 3 miles per hour. Whether you are reeling or trolling to get the job done, slime traveling down your line is going to foul the action of your lure. A trick that works well for us is to tie a knot above the lure to catch the slime or even use a bobber stop ahead of the lure. You will need something to run interference or you wonít spend much time with your crank bait actually vibrating. Whether trolling or casting, keeping the rod tips just under the waterís surface can also help eliminate some of the algae from collecting on the line. When there is no wind, the algae might even form a floating crust on some lakes.

We have often found fish underneath this scum right in the green water. In fact, wind, rain or anything else that would clear the water would often destroy the pattern. We have often noticed this shallow pattern coincided with the emergence of leopard frogs or a strong population of baitfish that we could physically see as we worked the shallow water. Emerging dragon fly larvae would also hold fish in this shallow water during the hottest days of summer. One of the best baits we have found for casting into shallow water is a #5 Salmo Hornet. The Hornet has a very hard distinct vibration that actually shakes slime and weeds free. This bait also just seems to out produce other lures during the warm water season.

Lindy's New Vege Jig Another option might be a weedless jig like a Lindy Veg-E-Jig with Gulp or Power Bait. Casting into the soup is consuming because you are always cleaning your lure and your line. The advantage of casting however is that you get to see your lure pretty regularly so you become more efficient, using a free vibrating lure most of the time on each new cast. Trolling puts you at a disadvantage because lures are more difficult to monitor back behind the boat. Trolling accounts for more fish for us at this time of the year than any other presentation. Most of the time, we are trolling in at least twenty feet of water and we are somehow relating to the basin of the lake. We often combine flat lines and lead core. Often, we will run some larger, hard vibrating baits right below the boat on Fireline. Some productive baits in the past have a hard vibration combined with a back and forth tracking action

Lures like Storm Hot n Tots and Reef Runners have been classic producers in the past. A new bait that is turning heads right now is the 8 SDR Salmo Bullhead. If you like the Reef Runner when they are tuned, you will love the Bullhead. Lead core is often run out the back and we usually use a Fireline leader to detect when our lures are fouled. On the leadcore, a #5 or #4 Salmo Hornet will usually out fish any other crankbait. The lure has a distinct action that can easily be felt through the leadcore, making you much more efficient. You will not catch anything if you are dragging slime above the bill of the bait or fouling hooks. Trolling enables you to break down large parts of the lake. Donít be afraid to troll at speeds of three miles per hour or even faster. The more turned off the fish are, the more of a narrower window you have for crankbait placement. For example, if fish are really tight to an edge, you are going to have to pay close attention to your GPS and sonar. When water clarity becomes and issue or if fish just arenít rising up off the bottom, the level at which you are running your baits becomes more and more important. When the fish are snapping hot, you can just make more sloppy mistakes. Summer might be winding down for many anglers but the walleye fishing might just be red hot during a period of time when many anglers stay at home. Use crankbaits either deep or shallow and fish them fast to put walleye in your boat during the hottest days of summer.

Editors Note: The author, Jason Mitchell heads Devils Lake, North Dakotaís largest and most respected team of open water fishing guides, Mitchellís Guide Service. Mitchellí Guide Service can be reached by calling 701-662-6560 or on the web at: www.fishdevilslake.net. Jason Mitchell is sponsored by Yar-Craft Boats, Lindy Little Joe, Salmo USA, Vexilar, Valley Fun Source of East Grand Forks, Woodland Resort, Pro-Pointer Lake Maps, Berkley, Fenwick and Abu Garcia.

 

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