Ontario Walleye FishingOntario Walleye Fishing Tips and Resorts
Dunk the Weeds for Sunshine Walleye
Where are the Walleye Hiding?
Hot, penetrating sunshine and the sensitive eyes of the walleye can make for a frustrating and energy-draining day out on the water for the exuberant angler. Fish become scarce during these trying times and without the proper locations or techniques needed to find and catch these fish, a fisherman’s moral can reach an all-time low. Green, healthy weeds, a handful of jigs and a technique called “dunking” are all that are needed to find success during these “dog days” of summer.
During the days of summer when the humidity and sun become scorching hot, the intuitive walleye will begin his retreat and search for cooler climes for a more comfortable existence. Although common knowledge tells us that walleye and rocks are the perfect pair, the green vegetation that is on your home lake is also a preferred habitat for a walleye seeking shelter. Shallow, fertile lakes are the number one choice for patterning walleye this way, however, any lake that supports weeds will always play host to weed-wandering walleye. Water that is relatively clear and is less than ten feet deep are the most ideal characteristics to target for certain success.
Green weeds lure walleye in for a number of reasons. They provide a cooler environment, shade from the sun, oxygen, safety and comfort and an abundant food source with an added ambush point for attack. When you put all of these pluses together, you get a sure-fire plan for putting walleye in the boat.
When the sun is beating down, there will be certain weeds and areas that will draw fish in more than others. Look for the greenest, most lush vegetation that you can find. These weeds can take the form of coontail, milfoil or a variety of other species, but they must have a base or openings for the walleye to lurk under and through. Also, try to pinpoint weed areas that are relatively close to deeper water. Walleye feel safer when deeper water is in the vicinity as it provides an escape route – the shallow weed flat, in turn, provides an ideal feeding shelf. One last thing to keep an eye out for is isolated weed clumps in the area you are fishing. Huge expanses of vegetation will hold good numbers of fish, but isolated weed clumps provide a hiding area in a vast space of “coverless” water that roaming fish happen to stumble upon and call home.
Dunk till you Drop
Dunking is a close-range fishing technique that involves lowering your lure vertically down from your boat into a weed pocket. The maximum amount of line you will use in most situations is ten feet, so be prepared to for some excitement when Mr. Walleye takes a fast swipe at your jig.
There are two ways to approach a weed pocket for dunking – drifting and by using your electric motor. If the winds are calm and you are fishing a large expanse of weeds, simply allow your boat to drift with the breeze and dunk all of the pockets that you can as your boat slowly drifts over them.
If the winds are stronger, however, or if you are fishing isolated weed clumps, your best bet is to use your electric motor. A bow-mount is recommended for this application, as they are easier to steer, and stand, while fishing.
The art of dunking is quite simple and easy once tried. Let out approximately ten feet of line and hold this excess line in your left hand close to the reel seat and out to the left. Either drop your bait directly into a pocket while you are over it or make a short “flip” to a pocket in front of you. Either technique is deadly on these hungry weed walleye.
Tools of the Trade
The tools that are necessary to seek out weed walleye are quite basic. Start with either a sturdy spinning or baitcasting rod in a medium-heavy action. Look for a rod with a lot of backbone in the lower three-quarters, as these short-line hooksets can be bone jarring. Ten to fourteen-pound monofilament or any of the braided lines are the preferred choice for strength and for horsing the fish out and away from the foliage.
Jigs are the mainstay for this type of fishing, with Bucktails getting the nod as top producer for dunking situations. Choose a bucktail that is quite heavy (1/2 oz. to ¾ oz.) as these will penetrate the weed growth easily and will get down to the base of the vegetation quickly. Colour is a matter of personal preference, although mimicking the local baitfish is always a good idea. (I also like to choose a bait that has some brightness in the colour of the hair as this can help in visually seeing the bait sink to the bottom.) Lastly, make sure that your jig has a top-quality hook that is both sturdy and sharp. Walleye have a tough mouth and the easier your hook penetrates, the higher the chance of success.
Seven Steps to Better Dunking
1. Allow your jig to flutter freely to the bottom, snapping it off any vegetation it comes into contact with on the way down.
2. Maintain a fairly tight line on the fall.
3. Jig up to a dozen times in productive looking weed clumps.
4. Experiment with different jigging motion and lifts and pauses.
5. Apply scent to your bucktail or tip with livebait for finicky fish.
6. Be prepared for a hard hit from a charging walleye and make sure you get its head up and coming toward the boat.
7. Patience is the key and persistence will pay off when dunking.
When the sun is shining bright and the walleye seem to have disappeared, dig out those bucktail jigs and spend a day dunking the weeds. By trying this deadly technique on your home lake you are guaranteed a day of close-contact walleye excitement that is sure to please.
By Justin Hoffman