Jig down deep
Vertical jigging is another great method for targeting deep-water summer walleye. For years, the common practice was to anchor above structure and entice the fish to bite a lead-head jig tipped with a minnow. In the recent years, however, anglers have been putting a new twist on vertical jigging by drifting over structure and ripping a size 7 or 9 Rapala Jigging Rap (above) or large jigging spoon, such as a ¾-ounce PK Lures Flutter Fish (below).
Live-bait rigging is another time-honoured tactic for catching summer walleye down deep. I like a single size 6 or 8 octopus hook, tipped with a leech, crawler or minnow, on a long leader (or snell) behind a walking weight. To better detect strikes, try keeping the weight directly below the boat so the line remains vertical, rather than behind the boat at a 45-degree angle.
Walleye caught in deep water and battled to the surface often end up with bulging eyes and swollen swim bladders, indicating they’re suffering from barotrauma. If you’re keeping the fish, this is fine. But if you’re practising catch-and-release, a fish in this condition likely won’t survive if you just drop it back in the water. Instead, it’s important to use a descending device—an inverted barbless hook with a weight—to lower the fish to the same depth at which it was caught before releasing it.