With the heat of summer in full swing, I recently did some reflecting on the 2015 open-water season to date. Two things came to mind during this reflection process: inconsistent weather and weeds, lots of weeds that is. In fact, several lakes that I have fished this year seem to have unusually thick weeds growing.
The shoreline flats that extend out into lakes before dropping off to deeper water often host areas of weeds on many lakes. Often these flats feature areas of heavy weeds, along with open pockets, and then the weeds end in a distinct edge where the flat drops to deeper water. Lack of sunlight in the deeper water prevents weeds from growing, resulting in what is often referred to as the “deep weedline.”
This year, however, lots of flats appear to be weed-choked from bottom to surface with not many openings. Plus, in some shallow lakes and bays those deep edges are not even present as the weeds now dominate the shallow basins too.
Why do we have an abundance of weed growth in 2015? I am not sure, though the two theories that make sense to me are that a lack of snow cover last winter allowed the weeds to grow during winter contributing to this year’s heavy weed crop and, that a dry spring, combined with little snow melt run-off made for very clear water this spring which again contributed to weed growth. Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that we have lots of weeds and, yes, fish can still be caught from them.
Those lakes that have deep water basins still have classic deep weedlines and, now is the time for great multi-species fishing action along those weedlines. A crankbait, like a Salmo Hornet, cast and retrieved to the edges is a great way to move along a weedline catching bass, northern pike, walleyes and occasional big panfish. Another great method is to tip a small jig with an Impulse soft bait and pitch it to the weedline. This approach will put crappies and bluegills in the boat, but again some of those bigger predators will like it too.
Walleye anglers are often frustrated by the presence of weeds. Again, pitching the weed edges will work, but savvy anglers will also use spinner rigs pulled behind split-shot weights or small bullet sinkers to fish over the weed tops. Baiting the spinners with nightcrawlers will work, but an Impulse nightcrawler or jig crawler adds fish-attracting action to the rig, are more durable for working through weeds, and will also be appreciated when pesky panfish are nipping at the offering as well.
Bass anglers can also have success penetrating weedy flats. A big skirted bass jig like a 5/8-ounce Jungle Jig tipped with a trailer can be pitched and dropped into the weeds. In fact, this is a dynamite way to find and catch some of a lake’s biggest largemouth. A stout, heavy action baitcasting rod and reel combination spooled with 30-pound SX1 braided line gets the nod when I fish this pattern as this can be downright hand to hand combat requiring heavy line and equipment to horse big fish from heavy weeds.
Heavy weeds seem to be a theme on lots of lakes this year. Don’t despair, however, as these weeds offer fish great places to live and, following some of the tips just presented can help you find and catch a bunch of those fish this summer.
As always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure.
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co- host of the popular Fishing the Midwest television series. Visit fishingthemidwest.com to learn more.