Does anyone want to talk about fishing??
Contemplating my last couple of (poor) fishing trips during which I showed many different lures to hundreds of walleyes that where seen on electronics – including Livescope – with nothing but a million follows and a handful of bites from small walleyes to show. These were on ‘go to’ spots that always hold fish in the summer – these last few trips being no different. Trying to make sense of it in the hopes of changing my fortune. Here’s some random thoughts for those of you also struggling here in mid-summer.
That walleyes make long migrations in the spring to select spawning sites has been well established by many tracking studies. However, these same types of tracking studies reveal that a much smaller home range is established once the spawn is completed and summer has settled-in.
My experience is that these pods of summer resident fish become very difficult to catch when exposed repeatedly to the same presentations; so much so that I now have begun to ignore large groups of fish that have become uncatchable as a result of our over-exposure. Could this be the reason behind the proverbial ‘summer doldrums’? I think so.
Where we fish, large groups of walleyes seem to stay put on prominent spots/confined areas during the summer. Due to their size and numbers, the temptation to return to them is like an addictive drug. Yet, fishing ‘history’ can make for thin soup.
When first found, these fish would bite almost any artificial presentation we threw at them. However, over the years – and hundreds of fish catches/releases later – these summer resident fish no longer respond as they once did. This is evidence to me that many fish are returning to the same summer home ranges year after year. These are the fish I believe are being over-exposed to our presentations and showing avoidance behaviors. The fish are still there, but they don’t bite with nearly the aggression level like they did previously. Most won’t bite at all…and on presentations that used to give us insanely good fishing. Essentially, our own angling pressure helped kill the bite on these spots.
I have not seen fall-time studies specific to walleyes, but tracking data with other species show that these small summer home ranges break down with the turn-over in the fall, usually around 55 degree water temp. That’s when the fish begin to roam again and become more susceptible to angling. I’m assuming that’s also the case with walleyes as well since we see the numbers increase dramatically on certain spots at that time of year and the overall bite improves.
So, what does all this imply about busting the summer doldrums? ‘Fish the fishermen’ and avoid community spots this time of year, particularly spots you yourself have been beating-up – even if loaded with summer resident fish. Now is the time when finding new spots and fresh fish that haven’t seen pressure seems most important.
That’s my BS Theory for the day. What are your thoughts/experiences around this subject?