For Summer Fish, Keep Moving – Jensen


Photo: Matt Garvin/MNR
THUNDER BAY – The summer months are a good time of year for fish in at least one way: There is lots of food in the water for them to eat. The baitfish that were hatched this spring are getting to a size where the predator fish can feed on them, and last year’s baitfish are still of a size where they can be forage also. The supply of food for predator fish is probably higher right now than any other time of year.

However, that doesn’t mean fishing is going to be easy. In fact, because of all the baitfish and other forms of forage in the water, the predators have a lot of food options. The fish are hungry and will eat, but you need to make it easy for them to eat your bait. Trolling is a good way to present a bait in many situations this time of year. Here’s why.

Trolling enables us to cover lots of water in search of fish looking for something to eat. We’ll be moving fairly fast, as fish in warm water often respond favorably to a faster moving bait. We’ll cover water quickly until we find a group of fish that seem to be interested in eating, then we’ll probably slow down and work them over.

We’ll cover a variety of structures. A weedline is a great place to start a trolling run. You’ll need to pay close attention to your depth-finder or you’ll be in the weeds more often than you want. Try to determine the depth where the deep weedline ends, then keep your trolling passes as close to that depth as possible. In the Midwest, you’ll catch walleyes, pike, bass, panfish, maybe even a musky while trolling the weedline.

In some bodies of water off shore structures will be good. On off shore structures, where possible, you’ll want to get multiple lines per angler in the water. You’re covering more water by doing so, which increases your odds of getting bit. Pulling planer boards is the best way to get multiple lines in the water. Planer boards enable you to get lines out to the side of the boat and directly behind the boat. This permits you to troll effectively without tangling lines. Use a variety of baits until the fish show you what they want. The planer boards from Off Shore Tackle are easy to use, easy to see and read, and they run exceptionally well. Planer boards will help you catch more fish.

If you’re just looking to get bit, crankbaits are probably the best producers for a wide variety of fish. Pretty much every gamefish that swims will eat a crankbait. A #5 or #7 Flicker Shad is a very good choice. If you have multiple lines out, try both sizes to cover different water depths. If you’re trolling just one line per person, go with the #7 size. Summer fish usually like the bigger bait.

If walleyes are the quarry the crankbait will work, but a Northland Baitfish Spinner rig will probably be a better choice.

Use a softer action trolling rod, something that has a soft tip but still lots of backbone will be good. There are several Lightning Rod and Ugly Stik actions that are perfect. Team that with ten or twelve pound test Trilene XT and you’re set. Now all you need to do is find a body of water nearby and you can put your trolling into practice. If you do, you’re going to get bit, even on the hottest days of the year.

— Bob Jensen

See all Jensen’s newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television at: or

Article is courtesy of The Fishing Wire.

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