Weeds and fish are a mix that mid-summer anglers should take full advantage of. Weedline walleye, bass and pike are there for the taking if you just know how to locate them. Weed lines attract and concentrate a variety of species, which can make them easy to find. If you can locate the weeds, you can find the fish.
The easiest edge for anglers to fish, has to be the deep weed line. That’s the deepest part of the weeds, where they can no longer grow because of the lack of sunlight. An edge is created, which makes a high percentage spot for contacting just about every kind of fish.
When pike, bass, or walleyes get in the snackin’ mood, they’ll move to an edge, in the weed line, and ambush hapless baitfish as they swim by.
The thick, green stuff, makes a summer home for minnows, baitfish, young of the year perch and panfish, as well as insects and crayfish. This is the real attraction, and helps to keep the bigger predators holed up.
Although any type of weed can hold fish, preferred varieties include cabbage, and coontail. Cabbage is the anglers favorite, and can allow you to work right into the middle of it, while coontail may be so thick it will keep you to the outside edge. Bass, pike and walleyes key on the deep edge, especially at the base of the weeds. And you’ll also find plenty of sunnies, crappies and perch.
To find the edge, keep your eyes glued on the depth finder, and cruise the shallow water, looking for weeds. Once they start to show up, start moving deeper until you run out of them. Then cruise back and forth, trying to stay right on the edge, until you get a good idea of how it’s laid out. If you find a ‘key’ spot, like a point or inside turn, you may want to drop a marker. If you’re worried about other anglers moving in on your spot, try a black marker. They are extremely difficult to see, unless you get really close.
When you’ve figured out how deep the weeds grow, and have a mental picture of how the edge lays, it’s time to drop them a line. The best presentation for catching everything you can find on the weed line has to be a live bait rig. A live bait rig is nothing more than a sliding sinker with a snell, tied to a hook.
Most packaged snells come in shorter lengths, which limits its use. Quite often, a longer snell can help trick pressured fish into biting. In working with VMC Hooks, we developed a snell unlike any other. It comes with seven foot leader, right out of the package, and is tied to a red, VMC live bait hook. The snell comes with green line and a red hook. The green line can up your odds for catching finicky fish, as it’s just about invisible in the water. We’ve also found that by simply using a red hook, we actually catch more fish.
The live bait rig is designed to be used with crawlers, leeches, and minnows. To key on bigger fish, like pike and bass, you may want to stick with big jumbo leeches, or minnows. The big leeches will help keep the panfish away. They will still hit them, but they can’t swallow that much bait. Minnows will get you more pike action. If you want to pick up more panfish, try small leeches; they absolutely love them, and you still have a chance for catching a bass or walleye.
To work a live bait rig on the weed line, drop the bait to the bottom and let out some extra line. Most weed lines are 15ft or shallower, and fish can get a little spooky at those depths. By getting the bait away from the boat, you can reduce the spooking factor.
Use an electric trolling motor to slowly move you along, while trying to follow the edge. As you make your run, ever so slowly, try to think about what the bait is doing. As soon as you feel anything different, set the hook; it just might be a fish. It also pays to check your bait often, for weeds and debris. When you’re working a weed line, you are going to pick up some junk, and you probably won’t get hit if the bait is fouled.
If you don’t have an electric motor, try using the wind to drift the edge. If that’s a problem, you may have to anchor in a little deeper water, and cast to the edge. You can cast the live bait rig, but you’ll want to shorten up the snell. The technique involves casting , and slowly working the rig back to the boat. On the retrieve, give the bait plenty of time to work its stuff. I’d suggest reeling one turn, and then waiting about ten or twenty seconds, before reeling again. And like I said before, if you feel anything that seems different, set the hook.
If you’ve got a boat full of kids, and casting might prove to be a little dangerous, set everybody up with a bobber and a leech. Give a spot about twenty minutes, or so, before trying the next. It’s going to be a little more work, but that’s what it might take to get on a bunch of fish.
Once you find the little areas that concentrate fish, you can expect to come back and find them there, time after time. Good weed edge spots can produce from late spring, through early fall.
See you on the edge.
by Ron Anlauf