Walleye in the Great Lakes: Summer Habits and Fishing Tips

Walleye in the Great Lakes: Summer Habits and Fishing Tips

Walleye, known for their glassy eyes that seem to glow in the dark, are among the most sought-after game fish in North America. The Great Lakes, with their expansive and diverse ecosystems, provide an ideal habitat for these elusive fish. But what do walleye do during the summer months? Where can you catch them, and is it hard to reel them in? Let's dive into the summer life of walleye and offer some tips for a successful fishing trip.

Walleye Behavior in Summer

During the summer, walleye behavior is influenced primarily by water temperature and food availability. As the water warms up, walleye tend to move from shallow spawning grounds to deeper, cooler waters. This migration is driven by their preference for temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C), which are more prevalent in deeper parts of the lakes during the hot summer months.

Walleye are crepuscular feeders, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. In the summer, they often seek out structures such as rocky points, drop-offs, and submerged vegetation where they can ambush prey. Their diet mainly consists of smaller fish, such as perch and shad, but they also eat insects and crustaceans.

Best Places to Catch Walleye in the Summer

The Great Lakes, comprising Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, offer diverse fishing opportunities. Here are some prime spots to catch walleye during the summer:

  1. Lake Erie: Known as the "Walleye Capital of the World," Lake Erie is a top destination. The western basin, near the islands and reefs, is particularly productive. The central basin, with its deeper waters, is also excellent during the warmer months.

  2. Lake Michigan: The Green Bay area and the Door County Peninsula are renowned for their summer walleye fishing. The structure-rich waters provide perfect habitats for walleye.

  3. Lake Huron: Saginaw Bay is a popular spot, with its shallow waters warming up quickly and attracting large numbers of walleye.

  4. Lake Superior: The Apostle Islands region offers a unique walleye fishing experience, with the colder waters of Lake Superior providing a different challenge.

  5. Lake Ontario: The Bay of Quinte is famous for its walleye population, especially in the summer when fish move deeper and become more challenging to catch.

Tips for Catching Walleye in the Summer

Catching walleye in the summer can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can increase your chances of success:

  1. Fish at the Right Times: Early morning and late evening are the best times to fish for walleye in the summer. During these times, walleye move into shallower waters to feed.

  2. Use the Right Gear: Medium to medium-heavy rods with a sensitive tip are ideal for detecting the light bites of walleye. Spinning reels with a good drag system are recommended.

  3. Choose the Right Bait: Live bait, such as minnows, nightcrawlers, and leeches, are very effective. Artificial lures like crankbaits, jigs, and spinner rigs can also be successful, especially when mimicking the natural prey of walleye.

  4. Focus on Structure: Walleye love structure. Look for rocky points, weed beds, drop-offs, and submerged timber. Using a fish finder can help you locate these structures more efficiently.

  5. Adjust to Depths: As the sun rises and the water warms, walleye tend to move to deeper waters. Be prepared to adjust your fishing depth accordingly. Using a slip bobber or bottom bouncer rig can help maintain the right depth.

  6. Stay Mobile: If you're not getting bites, don't hesitate to move. Walleye can be elusive, and sometimes finding the right spot requires some trial and error.

Is It Hard to Catch Walleye in the Summer?

Catching walleye in the summer can be more challenging than in other seasons, primarily because they move to deeper waters and can be less active during the heat of the day. However, with the right knowledge and techniques, it is far from impossible. Understanding their habits, being patient, and adapting to changing conditions are key to a successful walleye fishing trip in the summer.

In conclusion, the Great Lakes offer fantastic opportunities for walleye fishing during the summer months. By knowing where to look and how to fish effectively, you can enjoy the thrill of catching this prized game fish while enjoying the stunning beauty of these vast freshwater lakes. Happy fishing!