By Bob Jensen
As summer progresses, the various vegetation in the lakes becomes a big factor in our fishing. The different types of vegetation that live in the lakes will be home to a variety of fish species. Some weeds will be in the shallow water, others will be deeper. Almost wherever you fish in the summer, vegetation will hold some fish. Here are some ideas for fishing that vegetation.
The main reason game fish are in and around weeds this time of year is because the weeds are where the smaller fish that the game fish like to eat are. The vegetation provides cover for the smaller fish, but every now and then a small fish will wander away from the cover. They usually don’t last long when they do this.
Walleyes are often thought to be a fish of deeper water and that like rock and sand, and on some bodies of water that is very true. But there are lots of times on lots of lakes where walleyes will be on the deeper edges of weeds, say eight to twelve feet of water, in good numbers. There are also many times when they’ll be in the shallower weed clumps in depths of four to six feet of water. When they’re in the weeds, you can catch them.
Jigs and crankbaits are very productive presentations for working the deep weedline. They can be worked quickly so you can cover water fast in your search for fish willing to bite. It works well to have the angler in the front of the boat throwing the crankbait and the angler in back using a jig. The crankbait will take the active fish: The jig will take the fish that want the bait a little slower.
Salmo’s Hornet series of baits can be very good. The #6 is especially good for largemouth bass. It will also take walleyes, but if walleyes are your target, start with the #5 size. Cast it ahead of the boat to the weedline.
Follow up with a jig tipped with plastic. Weed-Weasel jigs are weedless and will enable you to slide your jig through the cover with minimal hang-ups. A slow, finesse presentation is not necessary. Retrieve the jig with snaps and brief pauses. An eighth ounce jig will work well, but don’t hesitate to tie on a larger jig.
Live bait will get ripped off the jig by the vegetation quickly, so plastic is what we will be tipping the jig with. Something like an Impulse Paddle Minnow or Smelt Minnow will be good.
Largemouth bass will also be found along the weedline. Fish them like you would walleyes on the weedline, but substitute an Impulse Dip-Stick or Ribbon Worm on the jig.
On cloudy days and early and late in the day, largemouth will move to the tops of the weeds. This is when we throw either a spinnerbait or a topwater. They’ll be near the surface under these low-light conditions, and you can usually work the bait pretty fast.
Northern pike, muskies, and panfish also call the weedline home in the summer, or at least they make frequent stops at the weedline. The fun of fishing in and around vegetation is that you never know what going to bite next. The only thing for sure is that you’re probably going to get bit frequently, and that’s why you should fish the weeds this time of year.