Get In The Weeds

By Lance Valentine

In simpler times shallow weeds were the number one location choice of anglers for most species, including walleye. Over the decades with the improvements in electronics, boats and motors everyone is in a hurry to head off shore, driving right over some of the best fishing most bodies of water have to offer. The past decade or so I have focused most of my lake fishing, especially my summer time Great Lakes fishing on shallow water, water shallower than 12 feet and full of weeds….let me tell you why you need to join me.

Why Weeds Hold Fish
The reasons shallow weeds are full of walleye are numerous, but the main reason is food, and LOTS of it. Weeds provide shelter for young of the year baitfish, crustaceans, panfish and aquatic insects; all things on the preferred forage list of a walleye. Since the weeds are full of bait, there is no reason for walleye to leave, even in the heat of summer. Walleye, like all creatures in nature are lazy, easy meals are preferred. With all this food in the weeds why would walleye leave? It’s a lot easier to live amongst your buffet than it is to swim around hoping to run into your next meal.

A second reason weeds hold walleye is that they provide oxygen. Walleye need to breathe, and nothing produces underwater oxygen better than nice thick green weeds! Oxygen levels in the water are at their lowest in the heat of summer, so doesn’t it make sense that walleye would like to be around the weeds when surface temperatures soar in the middle of summer? They absolutely do, but anglers continue to just pass them by and head to deeper water.

So, lots of food, oxygen and cover in one spot…seems like these weeds might need a little more attention from anglers

Why Weeds are Ignored
I’m lucky to talk with a lot of anglers every year and it still amazes me how may “old wives’ tales” persist about walleye. I hear folks talk about walleye having to go deep in the summer because the “sunlight burns their eyes” or “they must be in water under 70 degrees”. Not sure where all these false ideas come from but trust me, they are rampant.

Another reason anglers’ don’t fish the weeds often, especially when they are thick in the summer, is the hassle of snagging weeds on lures. This one I get, since I deal with it most days, but the small hassle of pulling off weeds is usually outweighed by the number and size of walleye we unhook from those same weeds!

Why Weeds are Productive
Ok, so we know weeds hold walleye, but why are they so productive when fished properly? First, walleye in the weeds are almost always active, or at least neutral. Fish that live in cover are much less affected by weather patterns than fish that roam open water. The food source stays put, the fish have cover to feel comfortable in and the weeds help scrub some of the negative effects of a weather change away.

Second, they are MUCH easier to fish efficiently. Open water fishing means fish at different depths, getting a lure to the right depth, speed control, currents and more. In shallow water, most of those issues are eliminated. Get lures just above the weeds and EVERY fish in the weed bed sees it.

Why You should Fish the Weeds
Hopefully these few quick thoughts have made you at least think about hitting some shallow water weeds this summer. Fishing the weeds has lots of advantages. First, you KNOW there are fish there, and there are some BIG ones too. Second, getting your lures to the right depth is a lot easier. Third, you will save lots of time and money by not running all over open water looking for fish. Fourth, there is usually a lot less traffic. Fifth, it a whole lotta fun!!! Hope to see you in the weeds this summer!

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