Summer Walleye Patterns

By Dan Grulke

            On the waters that we offer guide service, there are plenty of opportunities for catching these tasty fish. Known for their table-fare and lack of fight, walleyes can be a challenging quarry during any season. I will give you some tips to help you be successful on your next fishing trip.

            There are several lakes in the NOVA area that are supported by VDGIF that hold a good population of Walleyes. My first choice would be Lake Brittle in Gainesville followed by Burke Lake in Fairfax County. Both Lakes are stocked on a regular basis but do not support natural reproduction. At both of these locations, fish irregular bottom structure, drop-offs, and long points that drop-off near the main lake bed or channel. A walleyes diet is compromised primarily of fish so follow the schools of baitfish/forage and you will be near the walleye. Because both of these lakes receive an extreme amount of pressure, and second. most of these anglers are aware of structure fishing, there are some special tactics that will help you be successful. 
     Go in the evening hours and continue fishing into the night. Walleye have very sensitive eyes and feed predominately during low light conditions and two there is reduced boat and fishing pressure at night. My preferred tactic is to troll a ½ ounce VMC Switch-It slip sinker, followed by a black snap swivel, after which you attach a spinning worm harness. I prefer to use a worm harness that has a float and two hooks (see article picture). The float help keeps the harness about 6”-12” off the bottom, depends on how fast you are trolling, and the double hook or “stinger hook” helps you catch short striking walleyes. A couple of tips when trolling is that I start at a fast speed, 4 setting on my 55 pound thrust Minn Kota trolling motor, and if I am not catching fish--move down to a slower speed. When I do catch a walleye I immediately throw out a marker buoy to locate that spot. This allows you to go back and troll over that spot again or work it thoroughly with a jig and night crawler or jig and minnow. Remain consistent by remembering what speed you were trolling at and how much line you had out. My favorite blade color for the harness is painted chartreuse blades because “if it’s not chartreuse it isn’t any use”. If fish are suspended, which the typically are during the summer, I troll a Rapala X-rap 07 or a Rapala DT that matches the depth they are holding at or runs a foot or two higher. The colors I use are Hot Steel in the X-Rap and Hot Mustard in the DT series (for nights) and natural colors (during the day). I typically troll with a rod in each hand with one being a worm harness on the bottom and the other an X-Rap or DT crankbait to see where fish are actively feeding. When trolling, start off finding the thermocline and then trolling the contour bottom that intersects with the thermocline. Typically you’re most active and “comfortable” fish will be holding at the thermocline or just above it.

            When fishing for river walleyes consider the Upper Potomac River or Susquehanna River a destination. I have been successful catching them from Dam number 4 all the way down to Seneca on the Upper Potomac and on the Susquehanna River the Duncannon area. Look for feeder creeks that flow into the main river, main river current that breaks over ledges, and deep depressions in the river bottom. I prefer to use an X-Rap 07 in Ghost color and cast this perpendicular to the current, give them three sharp jerks to get them down deep and then slowly jerking them in the current directly behind the boat. I generally jerk the bait one foot, pause and dangle in the current for three-five seconds, then jerking again.  Other baits that have been successful are a jig and minnow or a minnow on a slip float. Hot spots include the area below dam number 4, Lander area, and the Whites Ferry vicinity (on the UP) and Juniata River Susquehanna River confluence on the Susquehanna River.
             To book trips please contact Ken Penrod or any of the other Life Outdoors Unlimited guides. Please check out our web-site www.penrodsguides.com for other articles in LOU Magazine and our weekly fishing report. For questions on this article please contact Dan Grulke at musky13@yahoo.com, the web-site above, or via phone 703-389-3508.