Early Summer Shallow Water Success
By: Captain Dave Duwe
Since the beginning of the time, fish have been associating to weeds for food and security. In early summer as the newly emerging weeds start to show, they become a magnet for the small bait fish and following them, the actively feeding game fish. Weed flats are the best early summer location in most bodies of water. You can catch every gamefish that swims in a body of water. This includes walleye and catfish and everything in between.
Recently I had a discussion with Tony Puccio, owner of Serious Walleye Guide Service. Tony guides on the Madison chain of lakes as well as Lake Wisconsin. Tony has been fishing professional for over twenty- five years. Trolling weed flats has been his specialty for walleyes for decades.
As a rule, wind driven shores with a water temperature of fifty degrees or higher is the go-to location. Concentrate on green weeds, the greener the better in six to eight feet of water. Green weeds mean more oxygen, which means more bait fish. With a large expanse of weeds the most effective way to cover water is by trolling. The trolling bite on the weed flats will last the first two to three weeks of May. With the use of planer boards Tony can put a large spread of baits in the water. Rapalas #12, Husky Jerks in Fire Tiger and perch patterns and Psycho Minnows by Bait Rigs are the lures of choice. Due to the relative shallow water the Husky Jerks are twenty to twenty-five feet behind the boards. The Psycho minnows are typically fished on a flatline that is fished seventy-five feet behind the boat which only allows it to dive three feet deep.
Weed flats change from year to year for reasons that are beyond my knowledge. The good spot last year might not be the good one this year. With that in mind continuous movement will put your baits in front of more fish.
As May turns to June the fish will slowly move slightly deeper as the water warms and the weeds grow. It makes trolling stickbaits impossible due to the thick tall weeds in the water column. When this happens, the technique will change from trolling to slip-bobbers and jig fishing. When this happens, it becomes an anchor or slow drift program.
Tony likes to position the boat in ten feet of water looking for the turns and points of the weeds, always looking for the hard bottoms that typically hold more fish. In the “old days”, Tony had to find the hard bottom locations using an anchor, today we have electronics! When anchored on a desired spot, slip bobbering a 3/64 Slo-Poke with a nightcrawler is a preferred presentation. When slip bobbering you want to position the bait about one foot above the emerging weeds. In hard bottom areas with less weeds a Slo-Poke ¼ ounce jig, tipped with half a nightcrawler is the presentation. When casting the Slo-Poke jigs you want to cast to the open pockets in the weeds which are indicative of hard bottom. These open weed pockets are ambush points for gamefish.
One helpful hint about your catch on the weedlines in late May or early June is that if you start catching catfish, you probably won’t find the game fish you’re looking for in that spot, however if you find the rock bass, you will find the game fish.
Early summer weedlines are some of the most productive locations to catch fish. Typically, as the water warms, and weeds grow the deeper you must fish. Cover water and catch fish!
Captain Dave Duwe is the owner and operator of Dave Duwe’s Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County (262)728-8063.