Outdoors column: Reading midsummer weedlines

by Steve Carney
Contributing writer

We have finally reached a point here in mid-August where the weeds have now reached a point where they are now readable. By that I mean we can focus in on the weedgrowth to help determine where the gamefish are hanging out.

Nelson Anderson, 13, of Bloomington with weed bass.
Nelson Anderson, 13, of Bloomington with weed bass.

This weedgrowth is a key fish locational area that hold fish well in the fall period. Here are some thoughts on the strategies when fishing weedgrowth.

Define lakes with good weeds

Not all lakes are created equal in terms of weedgrowth. Lake George, for example, in Anoka County is almost void of natural weeds with just a hint of native weeds.

Because milfoil has taken over the ecosystem, weedgrowth is a moot point. Consequently there are no weeds to read.

The flipside is that Six Mile Lake just east of Leech Lake has a tremendous amount of coontail and native cabbage that is easy to read and plentiful.

You can target gamefish there because the weeds are significant enough to hold both baitfish and gamefish.

Pick and choose your specific lake because you will find radical differences in weedgrowth county to county.

What to look for in presentations of bait

At this time of August many of these lakes still populated with native weeds are up to their peak growth. What I look for is the tips of the plants themselves that are now just rising from the bottom.

These tips are like little markers that show the line of the weeds and show turns and dips just by following the miniscule tips above the water.

Many anglers don’t realize the significance of these little tips protruding. These are like a map to follow when you are pitching the edges. Because we have had a weird spring these weeds have been retarded but now they are at their peak and easy to locate.

Best baits

Since almost all of the typical species in any given lake use the weedgrowth for both loafing cover and ambush cover, you can expect a great variety of all gamefish using these weeds.

If it’s walleyes you are after, a small sucker minnow impaled on a 1/16th .oz jig pulled along the weed edges works great in August.

Expect some “excuse me” northern pike along the way. If you are a bass person, pitching a six- to seven-inch worm rigged wacky style can be deadly.

Wacky style is hooking the plastic worm directly in the middle and letting it fall with absolutely no weight attached.

The slow drop is impossible to resist to a largemouth and smallmouth bass.


Again, every lake is different. If you are fishing a deep, clear lake expect the key depths to be around 14 to 22 feet, as weeds at this time of the year can extend down to amazing depths in clear water.

In darker or dingier waters, expect the depths to be around six to 11 feet.

Steve Carney is a regular contributer to the Outdoors page.

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