The age-old question in fishing is: do you fish shallow or deep during the summer months? Well, there are a lot of factors to consider—the species you’re going after, the type of lake or river you’re fishing, and what the fish are doing at that particular place and time. Let’s go through a few of the different species and talk about how to catch them when the temperatures soar.
If you want to catch big pike during the summer months, my recommendation would be to look for deep weeds or rock structures. Since a lot of the fish have moved out to their summer haunts, deep weeds—especially fresh, crisp, green cabbage—are always a good place to look. But don’t forget rock drops and breaks. We fish a lot of points and rock humps for big pike in lakes that are devoid of good weed beds.
A lot of the bigger fish will be feeding on cisco, whitefish, and herring, so they will be near or over the deep water where these baitfish live. This is where trolling for them can be effective. You can also get them by casting in deep weeds or around deep, rocky areas with big swimbaits, deep diving crankbaits, and big hair jigs tipped with live bait or soft plastics. The real key to consistently catching big pike and muskie during the summer is spending time on the water. Those fish have a lot of water that they could be in, so the odds are definitely in your favour if you spend time on the water figuring them out.
When it comes to walleyes, here in Ontario we get a lot of them by fishing weeds in the summer, usually deep, green weeds. We also get a lot of fish on humps. Basically, we’ll start in the mid-depths and work our way progressively deeper. When I say mid-depths, we might start in 10 or 12 feet of water but usually end up in anywhere from 18 to 30-plus feet. Jigs, soft plastics, and live bait rigs all will work for summer walleyes.
If you’re fishing in the middle of the day, remember that a walleye’s strike zone will be very small, so you’ll want to fish slowly with an “in-your-face” type of technique that keeps your bait in that small strike zone. Under low light conditions, these same fish will be much more active, and you can get them on working a jig more aggressively or by fishing a crankbait to entice them.
In a nutshell, keep in mind that not all fish are doing the same things in the summer. No matter what species of fish you go for, keep an open mind and have some fun out there.