The 4th of July is officially behind us and water temps along with air temps are on the rise. Most people consider this the “Dog Days of Summer” and the official slowdown of the walleye bite until fall temps make an appearance in a few months.
This occurrence of a staggering walleye bite doesn’t occur here on Devils Lake, as a matter of fact the bite actually only gets better as we move into the heat of summer. The steady summer bite is partly due to the dreaded algae formation on the big lake itself. To fishermen’s desires this algae layer on the surface of the water helps block those bright July sun rays and keeps our waters relatively dark and keeps the walleyes cruising the bottom active.
One of the most effective ways to target walleyes during the month of July is with bottom bouncers and spinners (or “smile” blades). Both are highly producing lures that can deliver a deadly presentation of live bait or plastics in front of lurking walleyes.
When targeting fish with bottom bouncers, a general rule of thumb is to use one ounce for every ten feet of water you are fishing in. So, a one-ounce bottom bouncer if you are in ten feet, a two-ounce bouncer if you are in twenty plus feet. The key is to let enough line out to just ‘tick’ the bottom. A forty-five-degree angle of line at the end of the rod tip is a good indicator that there isn’t too much line let out.
Next up is a spinner or smile blade rig. Both are super-effective ways to cover water and boat walleyes and be purchased already tied up or one can make their own rigs. If tying yourself, start with a fluorocarbon leader (10-20lb test will be sufficient) and use a plain shank hook or slow-death hook. Next up is utilizing a bead combination that will keep the spinner or smile blade separate from the hook so it won’t disturb the natural presentation. A simple trick when utilizing spinners is to have a quick-swap swivel on as one can swap spinner blade colors on the fly throughout the day.
When it comes to bait, worms and leeches are king. If the weather has remained solid with no major fronts or pressure changes, plastics like Berkley Gulp can be effective on hungry walleyes as well. Trolling speeds can vary depending on weather but a general rule of thumb is to keep your speed anywhere between 0.9-1.3 mph depending on conditions.
The last piece of the spinner puzzle is locations and this where Devils Lake shines! There are three main areas to target when it comes to Devils Lake and spinners. New weed growth can be excellent locations to target walleyes in shallow depths. A second spot to look for mid-summer walleyes is on submerged rock piles. Last but not least is the ‘Old Lake Shoreline’, this is the go-to come July as you can find these locations all throughout the whole lake. One can find these shorelines on Google Earth historical imagery and go back to the year 1990-1991 which will put anglers in present day 20-25 feet of water.
Now that July is here and some of the best fishing is ahead of us, go wet a line and enjoy a nice summer day on Devils Lake and hopefully a fish fry is in the near future!