Summer is prime time for walleye

Tasty summer meals are swimming in the lakes and river all around us and nothing goes better with a cold summer beverage than freshly fried walleye. Summer is in full swing, which means more and more boats are hitting the water.

Obviously, Lake Erie has the biggest upside in regards to big and abundant walleye (which I describe as the aquatic filet mignon) but there is plenty of walleye action closer to home.

Walleye regularly come out of the meandering Mahoning River, for example. Small river walleye can be caught best on rattle traps, small crankbaits, and small plastic softbaits like twistertail jigs. These are all fish-imitating lures that get bites from the aggressive walleyes. Look for these fish holding on structure, such as logs, bridge columns, and ledges, in relatively shallow water (3-to-7 feet). The fish will also be in eddies where the water gets displaced, waiting for food to get pushed by. The fish don’t want to fight against the current, so keep that in mind when fishing for small river walleyes.

A common strategy for catching walleyes on lakes is to troll. Trolling is a successful technique because one can cover large amounts of water. Unlike bass fishing, where the angler continuously casts and retrieves, trolling consists of continuously presenting the lure by moving the boat.

Trolling crankbaits is a popular method. When trolling crankbaits, the angler determines the depth the walleyes are holding, and chooses a crankbait specially designed to dive to that specific depth. This gets the lure into the fish’s strike zone as long as possible. This is critical when trolling, because walleye tend to stack up on the deeper ledges and structure and won’t venture too far to chase down prey.

Anyone who knows Mosquito Lake knows it is highly populated with weed beds. Most anglers fish the weeds for bass or panfish, but the weeds hold a very large number of walleye. There is an abundant number of baitfish living in the weeds which means the fish don’t have to work very hard to find a meal.

I was told a story recently about a walleye fisherman who has been a dock holder at the Mosquito Lake marina for more than 20 years. This fisherman, in his 20-plus years, has never stepped foot on the north end of the lake. This is because his strategy for catching walleye has never forced him to abandon the south end weeds. He fishes the edges of weed beds using minnows and a cane pole, catching his limit almost effortlessly.

Fishing the weeds is a good option for those who haven’t fished the lake much or are going out for the first time. Otherwise, you may find yourself endlessly searching for the fish without much luck.

Walleye can be caught all times of the day and throughout the night. Night fishing for walleyes can be very productive, especially on rivers, because the fish will be feeding shallower than they do at any other time of the day.

When fishing walleye, it is wise to keep in mind the minimum size and numbers limit for the water you are fishing.

UPDATE: The Youngstown State fishing team finished second in the FLW sponsored college fishing tournament on the Potomac River, Saturday, June 22. The first-year YSU team of Zachary Alcorn and Chuck Cremeans caught 11 pounds 10 ounces and won their fishing team $1,000. The Penguins pair will fish the third of the three college tournaments July 20, at Lake Champlain before fishing the regional invitational tournament Sept. 14 for a first place prize of $4,000 and a chance to qualify for the 2014 national championship.