Wickstrom: Walleye fishing across Colorado nears summer peak – The Denver Post
Many years ago, when I was writing for In-Fisherman Magazine, we would break down the fishing for warm water species by “calendar periods”. One obvious one, among others, was the spawn. This helped us predict where to locate the fish and determine what presentations would be successful.
Another key period is what we refer to as the summer peak. The summer peak occurs when the water warms, boosting the metabolism of the fish, but prior to the bait fish hatching. What this does is accelerate the feeding activity of the fish at a time when less bait is available to eat. Right now and for the next two or three weeks that is exactly what we are experiencing with the walleyes on Colorado’s Front Range and to some extent with bass, wipers and white bass. Let’s focus on the walleyes. The most active of the walleyes are the aggressive males.
They are typically less than 20 inches in size with an abundance of fish in the 14-to-18-inch range. On most Front Range reservoirs the main food source for walleye is gizzard shad. Many shad that hatched last year have already been eaten and the rest are already getting fairly big for these fish to eat. We are two to three weeks away from seeing this year’s crop. This forces these hungry fish to turn to other less abundant forage such as bug hatches, crayfish, minnows and young panfish.
Nate Zellinsky joined me on my radio show Saturday to discuss how to take advantage of this situation. First of all, this is a numbers opportunity. This is when you can have those 30 to 40 or more “fish days”. While you could catch a big fish they become a little harder to find at this time of year. Zellinsky said that almost all the shad-based lakes in eastern Colorado are in the summer peak. He is hearing reports of anglers having 50 plus walleye days on Pueblo, Chatfield, Cherry Creek Boyd and Barr Lake, which may be experiencing the best walleye fishing it has ever seen.
This is also a time when you can catch walleyes at various depths and on a number of presentations. Chad LaChance, from Fishful Thinker Television commented on the show Saturday that he caught several walleye on Boyd while bass fishing very shallow. Zellinsky said on Chatfield they were catching fish on jigs, live bait rigs, slip bobbers and a number of other presentations and at various depths.
During the summer peak I like to start shallow, either pitching a 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp Minnow, or casting crankbaits like a Berkley Flicker Shad close to shore. Those fish are shallow to eat. If I don’t get a bite within a few minutes I will move to shallow humps and points and start working deeper with jigs and live bait rigs. If you are not catching fish change something, your location or your presentation. These fish are hungry and aggressive.
Once you determine the depth and presentation, the action should be steady. This is the time of the year to just go out, catch fish and have fun. It’s a great time to introduce a kid or novice angler to fishing. This is also a great time to experiment with new presentations. Once you are into fish try something you don’t normally do. You will catch fish and gain confidence in a new technique while perfecting the nuances.
You have about three weeks of summer peak fishing to go on most of Colorado’s eastern reservoirs. If ever you were going to catch walleyes it will be now.
To watch a video of Zellisky and I jigging for walleyes on Chatfield reservoir, follow the link below.
To listen to my complete interview with Zelinsky click the links below.
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