June can be a great time to catch walleye. The fish have fully recovered from the spawn and are “on the feed” meaning finding fish is usually the key to catching them. Here are some tips for finding, and then catching, the oft-aggressive walleye of June!
Main lake structure usually starts to hold walleyes now. Mid-depth sunken humps and islands will often hold walleye during June, with deeper water structure holding more and more fish as summer wears on. Other good fish-holding spots during June are major points and flat edges that extend well off the shoreline break, jutting out into the main lake.
Regardless of the structure being targeted, using various fish finding sonar and GPS navigation technologies to quickly and efficiently search and find structure-related walleye is often the key to a successful June day.
I recently started using a SOLIX sonar unit and now have my “search screen” set showing four different views. These views include a mapping screen, MEGA Side Imaging and MEGA Down Imaging, and 2D sonar. This combination lets me quickly and clearly identify fish-holding structure, bait and walleye holding under and along the boat’s sides. These technologies are easy to use, easy to interpret, and let me quickly and efficiently eliminate unproductive water, and spend more time fishing “good” water.
Once found, the location of the fish usually determines my fishing method. For example, if a school of fish is found relating to a small area, maybe the tip of an underwater point in shallow water, I hold the boat out off the end of the point and pitch a jig and plastic combination to them. Shallow, clearwater often calls for a pitching approach to avoid spooking the fish from the boat.
A jig baited with a Rage Swimmer and pitched and worked quickly through these shallow fish often triggers aggressive bites. If, on the other hand, the fish are a bit hesitant, it may pay to work a jig and minnow more slowly through them too. Though, I often opt to look for more aggressive fish during this timeframe rather than trying to coax bites from reluctant walleye.
Pitching jigs often works good for fish concentrated in small areas. If, however, the fish are more spread out, say scattered along the drop-off edges of a point extending out into the main lake, then opting for a bottom bouncer, plain snell, and a hook tipped with either a nightcrawler or leech often works better.
I prefer a heavy bouncer (about one ounce per every 10 feet of water being fished), a 3 ½-foot snell of 10-pound fluorocarbon line, and a No. 4 colored live-bait hook tipped with a nightcrawler or leech. The “plain rig” as I call it utilizes the heavy bouncer to allow for quickly covering water searching for active biters, and the colored hook and bait combination has proven deadly when presented in this fashion.
Some anglers choose the more traditional slip-sinker live-bait rig in this situation. For me, however, the bouncer allows for covering more water to put my bait in front of more fish. A key is to keep the bouncer fishing fairly vertically, imparting a stuttering action to the bait that often triggers aggressive bites and also avoiding hangups on bottom. The plain rig works well close to 1 mph, whereas traditional “riggers” often fish slip-sinker rigs at about half that speed.
Whether it’s pitching jigs or working live-bait rigs, June often means biting walleye that can be caught consistently. Using the aforementioned tips can, in fact, help you get in on the “aggressive walleye of June” this year. As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the very popular “Fishing the Midwest” TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwst.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest!