Written by Mike Miller – Host Angler & Hunter TV
One of outfitters’ great fishing traditions has to be the “shore lunch.” Yep, fresh walleye, baked beans and some fried taters really hit the spot after an early morning’s effort. Sure, enjoying a meal on a secluded island or beach fits the bill, but there is no reason you can’t pull this gourmet feast off in the backyard or on the patio! Here is how you can make your next summer get- together one for the record books.
All you need is some walleye . . . Now most fishermen will tell you summer walleye fishing can be a little tough, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The trick is to understand how warming water temperatures and a changing environment affects walleye location, and activity levels. The walleye’s environment is one that is constantly changing, meaning they change locations and feeding patterns along with changing conditions. To stay with the fish, anglers need to be willing to change how and where they fish for walleyes, and keep an open mind. Doing the same things in the same places time after time, will probably result in less than satisfactory returns. By July, walleyes have vacated early season hideouts, and are moving towards deeper summer haunts. This is a period of time when fish are in transition and seem a little tougher.
However, as more and more fish show up at their new “home for the summer,” the action can only get better.
Now for catching them, walleyes don’t all do the same thing at the same time, and when it comes to feeding, it’s like they take shifts. Some will be totally inactive, others may start to move a little but not enough to hit a moving bait, then there are the extremely aggressive ones willing to take just about anything you put in front of them. Those are the sell-outs that can give up a whole school’s location.
The top of deep structure is home to perch, baitfish and crayfish. Active walleyes will often be cruising the top edge of the break, where they can quickly move up to grab an easy meal. For me though, the best place is the transition line where hard bottom meets soft, where gravel or rock changes to mud or silt. The transition line fish get little attention from most anglers as it is usually a fair distance from the main structure; it can be one your best bets for a shot at a lunker.
One of the top summer producers is a spinner and live bait combo. Spinners add an element of speed, and it’s the speed that can often nail aggressive walleyes. To get a spinner in the “zone,” I suggest using a bottom-bouncer combination. Bouncers can get the bait where you want it, and run relatively snag-free. Using a one- or two-ounce bouncer will keep you on bottom and keep the bait close to the boat.
Now here’s the dirt on bait. The traditional bait for dressing a spinner rig is live bait. A big fat juicy night crawler, leech or live minnow can turn the “eyes” on when nothing else will. However . . . if live bait is not your game then I suggest going all out and buying yourself some Berkley Gulp! Alive baits. They have Leech, Minnow and Worm imitators that work better than live bait, and there are no worries of them dying, getting away or being eaten off your hook!
Now that you know how and where to catch ’em, here’s a killer recipe for frying up the greatest shore lunch ever! Beer-battered walleye!
3 lbs. walleye fillets (4-6 eater-size fish)
1 can of your favorite Canadian beer
1 cup pancake mix
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes
1 tsp. seasoning salt 1tsp. lemon pepper salt
Beat eggs until fluffy.
In a separate bowl, combine pancake mix, corn flakes, seasoning salt and lemon pepper, then stir in eggs and slowly add 1 can of beer. Mix till batter becomes thick and viscous.
Now heat up a frying pan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil till it’s sizzling hot, then just dip your fillets in the batter and gently lay them into the pan (skin side down or it will curl). Cook till golden brown (3-4 minutes).
Heat baked beans, fry some potatoes, and for a real treat, slice an onion and dip it into the remaining batter then fry it up for the greatest onion rings you’ve ever tasted!