Weeds Are The Key To Spring WalleyesBy Craig Ritchie - May 13, 2021
In the spring and early summer, that means emerging weeds - a major walleye magnet that so many anglers completely ignore.
Weeds attract walleye for several reasons. Their fertility means there's plenty of food, including smaller fish and leeches. Weeds provide cover and protection from predators, while also offering loads of oxygen and shade.
The key to catching weed walleye is to find the best spots within the weeds, and fish using techniques that give you the advantage.
Picking The SpotsMost anglers have heard the phrase weedline, which essentially means the line formed where the weed bed ends. That's your best starting point.
But don't just start randomly casting along the edge of the weeds. Instead, look for little details that point out changes. That could be things like places where the type of weed changes (such as when patches of cabbage weed mix in with random clumps of coontail or milfoil), or more distinct physical changes in the shape of the weedline, like points, subtle turns or corners. All of those things point to differences in the bottom content, which tend to attract fish.
Other spots to try are any openings in the weeds, like holes or little canals, which often show places where the bottom composition has changed. For example, it may show where rock emerges from a sandy bottom. Those types of changes will almost always hold fish.
Weed Walleye Tactics
Once you've found some spots to try, it's time to focus on how you're going to fish.
The key with weed fishing is to keep a short line, and generally fishing as vertically as possible so you're less likely to get caught up in the vegetation. Walleye will most often sit at the bottom of the weeds, rather than halfway up or on top. So you have to get your bait down to them, and jigs tipped with either grub bodies like the Berkley Power Grub, or shad bodies like the Berkley Swim Shad or Mister Twister Sassy Shad are the way to go. It's vertical fishing all the way.
I can remember one beautiful May morning many years ago with pro angler and my good friend Bob Izumi, while we were taping an episode of his nationally-syndicated Real Fishing TV show. We were fishing a shallow, weedy bay for walleyes using small jigs with soft plastic shad bodies. We were fishing a weed edge in anywhere from three to five feet of water, where we'd drop that soft plastic shad down to the base of the weeds, then fish in a slow lift-and-drop motion, only moving it by an inch or two at a time. In spite of the shallow water - you could reach down any time and touch the bottom with your rod tip - we caught all our fish directly under the boat, and never cast farther than a rod-length away.
Spring is an awesome time of year to catch walleye, and it's even more fun if you get away from the crowd and find active fish you can have all to yourself. Instead of competing with the hordes hammering those rocky points, go give weedy walleyes a try. You'll be glad you did.