When the walleye action slowed down late in the summer many anglers thought the fish had lost their teeth. It made sense; some of the walleyes that were caught had red looking gums and there had to be a reason for the lack of success. Even though it sounded good, the old wives tale wasn’t accurate. In fact, walleyes keep right on feeding and downright heavy at times. It’s just that they do it where most haven’t gone before, out in the middle of nowhere.
By mid-summer, walleyes that have been holding on deep humps, reefs and even transition lines will head a little deeper, out in the middle of nowhere.
Flats in the 25- to 50-foot range are what we’re talking about where there are no drop-offs, breaklines or so-called structure of any kind.
Charter captains on Lake of the Woods picked up on the pattern years ago and now it’s the norm to see hordes of boats trolling back and forth over deep featureless flats all summer long. Mille Lacs has a growing population of flat fishing anglers who are doing quite well, thank you, late in the summer and into the fall.
The key to it all is fish (or the presence thereof) and the best way to find them is with electronics. Professional angler and Humminbird Pro Mark Courts of Harris has found a short cut to finding fish.
“High speed marking is critical for finding wide open walleyes,” Courts said. “I can actually see fish running flat out with my Humminbird 1198c and is effective down to maybe 35 feet. When I move deeper I may need to slow down to 20 mph or so which still allows me to cover a lot of water.”
“What you don’t see is the perfect hooks or marks like you may be used to. Instead you’ll see vertical bars or ‘spikes’ and if you’re picking them up in a likely area you could be in luck.”
The next trick is to get a crank bait to run at a specific depth – there’s more than one way to get it done and includes the use of leadcore and downriggers.
Downriggers are by far the fastest and most efficient way to keep a lure running at a predetermined depth.
Just let out some line, attach it to a clip on the back of the ball and drop the ball to a specific depth.
On downriggers, Courts said, “I’ll use longer leaders in clear water to help reduce the spooking factor of the balls, which means I’ll let out 30 to maybe 50 feet of line before I attach it to the ball.”
“I’ll also use a diving bait like the Shad Rap which dives below the running depth of the ball instead of a stick bait which doesn’t achieve much for diving depth.”
This mid-depth flat pattern can last right into the early fall and can be your best bet for finding and catching numbers of walleyes of all sizes.
The key to the whole thing is confidence and is a matter of spending a little time on good water and getting you’re pole bent, time after time after time.
See you on the water.
Ron Anlauf is a frequent contributor to the Outdoors page.