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FISH SAVVY: Vary presentation to get more bites

Local fishing guide T.J. Erickson notes that one reason people struggle to catch fish in the summer is because they stick to only one, maybe two, presentations. (T.J. Erickson/For the Enterprise)

During the summer months, many walleyes will descend to deeper water in search of food, cooler temps and adequate oxygen.

As they move deeper, they relate to pieces of structure, such as humps, points, flats and saddles. These are often the areas that come to mind when you think of classic “walleye spots.”

One of the reasons that I love this time of year is that the fish that are holding to deeper structure are easy to locate on your boat’s electronics and there is no guessing if there are fish around.

Once you have located fish, the real work begins – getting them to bite! Some days it can be as easy as dropping a jig over the side of the boat. Most often, you have to try to crack the code of figuring out what presentation these fish are looking for.

As many anglers know, there are hundreds of factors that determine whether or not fish will bite. One reason people often struggle to catch fish in the summer is because they stick to one, maybe two, presentations and if the fish don’t bite, they leave.


For example, an angler may find some fish and drop down a jig – no luck. A lindy rig – no luck. At this point, they determine that the fish just aren’t biting today and leave the spot. There is no magic formula to get those fish to bite, but there are some things that you can do that can help you catch more fish at each spot.

When I get to an area that I know is holding fish, I like to start with more aggressive, reaction baits and work to slower, finesse presentations.

When I pull up to a piece of structure that is holding fish, I almost always start with a Rapala Jigging Rap or similar style bait. This is a bait that you rip and jig very aggressively, as it darts around sporadically. This seems to trigger fish and create a reaction bite.

Other options for reaction baits could be a Hyper Rattle, Shiver Minnow, lipless crank baits, or snap jigging a jig and a plastic. If you are fishing an area that requires you to cover some ground, such as a weedline or deep point, then I would troll with spinners or crankbaits in order to trigger the reaction bite.

Once I have stopped getting bites on an aggressive presentation, I will switch to a slower, finesse style presentation. These often include using some sort of live bait. You can anchor over a spot and vertical jig or cast and retrieve with something like a jig, slip bobber or dropshot.

You can also cover some ground by slowly trolling with a lindy rig and live bait. All of these presentations will allow your bait to move slowly and sit in front of the fish you are targeting for long periods of time. This presentation can be an excellent option when the fish are in a lethargic mood.

The next time you are out on the water, try using a variety of presentations in order to maximize the amount of fish that you will catch at each spot!

T. J. Erickson is owner of TJ’s Guide Service.

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