As the surface water warms in the summer, walleyes go deeper in the lake in search of cooler temperatures as well as darkness (the walleye's eyes are very sensitive to light). Lindy rigs and other walking-sinker rigs, baited with a leech or nightcrawler, take walleyes consistently in early summer; a small flicker blade in gold, chartreuse, or even fluorescent orange may improve your odds at any given time.
Slip-bobber fishing is, by far, the most popular method for mid-summer walleyes. The slip bobber enables the angler to reach depths as great as 30 feet; a squirming leech or lively nightcrawler is hard for the hungry walleye to resist! Another excellent mid-summer choice is a jig that is heavy enough to reach the depths the walleyes are in. In general, summertime baits are larger than those used in spring, because the natural forage the walleyes are chasing has matured to larger size.
Fall finds the walleyes moving up shallower during feeding hours. At this time of year, they prefer slopes that are steeper than the gradual ones they use in spring, because this enables them to dash up quickly into the shallows for a meal, then return to the deeper, cooler water quickly.
In the fall, the surface waters, which have been warmer than the deep water all summer, cool down until they are cooler than the deeper water. Since cool water is heavier than warm water, the water rotates from top to bottom in what is called turnover. This presents a challenge to even the best angler, because the walleyes can be found at any depth during the turnover.
Whatever season you visit the Boundary Waters or Quetico, be sure to bring along your skillet for the best shore lunch you'll ever have. Walleyes from one to two pounds are ideal for eating; those larger than five pounds should be released to fight again, unless you wish to take one home ''for the wall.''
If you are going to release a walleye, try to land it quickly so it is not too tired when you release it. Never pick up a fish that you plan to release with dry hands or gloves; you will remove the protective layer of slime on the fish's skin, exposing it to fungus, disease, and possible death. Never pick up any fish by the eyes if you will be releasing it; the fish's vision will surely be damaged and it will not survive. If it has swallowed the hook, cut the line rather than pulling out the hook; the hook will dissolve in the walleye's stomach, and the fish has a much better chance of surviving than if you pull out a deeply embedded hook. Always have your camera ready if you would like pictures of your trophy before releasing it; take a few quick shots and return the fish to the water. If the fish is sluggish, hold it gently as shown in the photo above by cradling its belly with one hand and holding its tail with the other hand, and move the fish gently back and forth in the water to force fresh water over its gills. When the fish is ready to go, you will know it. There is no feeling that compares to that of releasing a trophy fish; try it next time, and you will understand that special feeling.
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