Shallow Water Walleyes…in 100-Degree Heat

February 23, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad

Scenario: It’s the end of June, almost 100 degrees and high humidity…what do you do? Well, I would say it all depends on the lake and the ecosystem in place. I would assume most walleye anglers would’ve been seeking out the deeper breaks looking for baitfish off deep ledges and humps. In the case of the slough we were fishing, the few anglers on the water were doing just that.

Luckily for me, I had one of the local veterans on the water…and he did just the opposite. Enter Old Hunter from Nodak Outdoors. We spent our entire morning working shallow water crankbaits on the wind blown shorelines, in 4 feet of water. The looks we got from the other anglers were priceless. But rather than receive looks at all, we went about our day and boated a ton of walleyes and nice pike.

It reminded me of a show Tony Dean did a few years back, where he and a local angler of Benson, Minnesota were fishing the same pattern on a 100-degree day. They were keying in on the mayfly hatch, where the walleyes were in shallow water taking full advantage. Our situation was similar, but in North Dakota we were keying in on freshwater shrimp in the shallows. The key to this day was seeking out cabbage beds on the edge of the shoreline rock piles. The heavy winds were pushing the freshwater shrimp into these beds and the fish were loading up on the free meals. These beds were holding a lot of aggressive fish and it really paid off. We trolled until we picked up a fish, and continued to work that area until it went stale and moved onto the next cabbage bed. This strategy paid off, with the addition of some nice pike.

After a successful morning, some shore lunch is always a plus and a time to enjoy the sun outside of an aluminum boat. Maverick is one of my closest friends and a close fishing/hunting partner the past few years since he moved back to North Dakota. His father, Old Hunter, knows better than most how to make the most of all outdoor situations on the prairie lakes. It’s refreshing to fish with those that enjoy the outdoors as much as myself, and our time spent together is always a memory. Old Hunter knew the lake so well, by the position and depth of our trolling line, whether or not the fish on our lines were pike or walleyes. The half smile that would show through when he was right (which he almost always was) was worth the trip alone.

After our lunch, we headed back out into the high heat and humidity. The fish never left the shallows that day. We continued to pull out fish until the high winds pushed us and everyone else off of the water. On the way home, it was sad to see the conditions of the wetlands of that region. The water was down a good two feet throughout the area, and as a result was countless dried up sloughs and many only days away from receiving the same fate.

The slough we were fishing is one of many on the prairie. The wet cycle has produced massive amounts of freshwater shrimp in any water deep enough to withstand a hard winter. Devils Lake is definite proof of how freshwater shrimp can impact a lake and a fish’s diet. If you’re used to fishing a lake with mainly a bait fish forage base, it takes a little getting used to. The patterns and mood of the fish surrounds this “unlimited buffet” of a high-protein diet. The status of the fish tells the tales, as the walleyes are shaped like footballs.

Get out there and enjoy the month of July, and please take a kid fishing.


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