The “Hot Summer Eyes” of Bay De Noc

by Captain Marty Papke 

It’s what we’ve been waiting for those hot, lazy, crazy days of August and then someone says it’s too “hot” to catch any walleye! The excuses start: too hot, too calm, too much humidity, too many fish (walleye’s) and not enough days to fish them!

If your looking for a time of the year when the temperatures are hot and the fish are biting, it’s those so-called “dog-days” of August. There’s always some non-believers but let me tell you that these warm days are definitely hot fishing days. Let’s concentrate on the methods used to capitalize on some excellent walleye catches on the waters of both Little and Big Bay De Noc.

Starting Where? The Key in finding those Summer fish!

When it comes to locating mid summer walleye’s in order to be successful an angler must think of several important factors: cover, food and a comfort zone. It’s easy to understanding how to fish these fish if you take these 3 things into consideration.

The water parameters of both Little and Big Bay De Noc are unique in they contain the very elements that will always hold a portion of catchable fish.

The starting point is doing map work of the waters you intend to fish. Fishing Hot-Spots maps are without a question the first place to start with not only their detailed descriptions of the waters but also the complete documentary telling you about the entire “waterworld” you are about to fish. In addition Fishing Hot Spots have introduced a “new” CD digital map series of Little Bay de Noc and it’s unique letting you have the entire map at your computer’s fingertips where you can mark and log many of your fishing spots. Challenging as it may seem map preparation will simplify your fishing and put you into fairly good spots and allow you to fine tune presentations as your fishing continues.

Weedbeds inhabit the bays and surprisingly large, healthy populations of weeds are present. Cabbage, coontail and elodia weeds are three of the most prevalent weeds found here and all have the capabilities of giving the necessary ingredients in finding good groups of walleye’s. Understanding weeds, especially that the greenest plants give off extreme amounts of oxygen that attract the plankton, baitfish and consequently the gamefish of the system. Locating these weedbeds are a simple matter as many of these beds are shoreline orientated making it possible for a very easy fishing approach. Giving you places to look for Hot-Spots on Little Bay could include; the Kipling Bay, fishing the ranges of depth from several feet of water right into 12 to 15 feet of water; the first, second and third reefs hold some excellent weedbeds; Nelsons Bay, a favorite of mine that tucks away from much of the fishing pressure and has a very healthy population of weeds as well as walleye’s; shoreline edges in general throughout Little Bay should be approached in a very fishable manner, moving south; the Black Bottoms weeds are a good spot as well as the shoreline edges of the west shoreline south to the Escanaba Harbor.

Big Bay De Noc abounds when it comes to weeds and Ogantz Bay with it’s good growth of cabbage has walleye written all through it; the Garden Peninsula all the way down to Summer’s Island has some great looking weedbeds. Location two for finding summer “eye’s” are the abundant reefs through both Bay’s should proof successful. The structure of these reefs have a combination of gravel, rocks, shale, sand and weeds that make up the basis of the reef systems. Amazingly here to are a certain population of walleye that inhabit these reefs throughout the entire year.

Reefs to fish and locate on Little Bay would be the first, second and third reefs out from the Kipling Landing. The immensity of the Center Reef may frighten some anglers as where to start but it’s make up of inside turns and array of bottom content makes this a definite spot to look into. South of the Gladstone area lies what I call some sudden hidden reefs that hold good fish during this hot summer time of August.

The reefs of Big Bay De Noc are numerous and composed mostly of rock, gravel and sand regions. These are definitely walleye holding areas but caution should be taken while fishing and approaching some of these reefs because of very shallow regions that can come upon you very suddenly. There exists a large, long reef paralleling the Summer’s Islands that holds good hot day walleyes.

The Basin or “Deep Water” fish probably are the most commonly fished waters of any system during the so-called “Dog-Day’s of August”. No doubt about it Little Bay’s deep basin fish do exist and locating these fish in summer takes mobility and electronics viewing of the lake content. The key to these basin fish is finding two groups of walleye’s; either the bottom dwelling fish or the suspended fish of the Bays. Deepest waters to check out in Little Bay and two areas are relatively easy to find; the deepest water between the reefs on the northern part of Little Bay and the Bottoms region heading towards the Bay of Green Bay. If your an explorer don’t hesitate to fish south towards Green Bay, Menominee and you’ll find schooling walleye’s here also.

Big Bays basin region starts right after leaving the Islands of The Vital’s, here electronic knowledge is important in spotting schooling fish. Combining schooling baitfish and marking fish you should be able to pattern basin fish in this water area.

The Selected Methods to Catching these Summer Walleye’s!

If I had one method of fishing walleye’s I’d pick jig fishing hands down. Jig fishing is fun, easy to learn and one productive method for these summer fish. A weed fishing presentation and jigs can be deadly in getting hot, summer bite walleye’s. The
numerous weedbeds in both Bays allow us to use jig fishing with good results. Sizes to start with I’d suggest 1/8 and 1/16 ounce Fireball and Lip Stick jigs of high Vis colors tied to 6 or 8 pound XL line. The new Fire Line with it’s low stretch and small diameter makes its a great jig fishing line.

Fishing presentations consist of 6 foot medium action spinning rods like Berkley’s Gary Roach’s model and matched with a the “new” Cardinal Center Drag Spinning Reel with superb drag and casting qualities and its time to present the bait. The two methods most used are a livebait attached to the jig head; minnows are a favorite producer and nightcrawlers complete the bill. Using a plastic tail like a Power Grub has outstanding results many times while fishing the weeds. A hot bait for trying this year should be the Northland Buck Shot Rattle jig with the added noise factor and fishing heavy weeds you’ll many times alert fish into seeking out your baits.

Boat and bait presentations should be off these weedbed edges to be able to place casts into the weeds letting the jig combination settle slowly pop the jig keeping the rod tip at a high point retreive position, if your getting hung in the weeds pop the jig free and let it again settle. Many times strikes will occur when the jig is free falling to the lake floor. Remember fishing fairly fast through areas will let you find aggressive biting fish and once found you can slow down and concentrate on schooling fish.

Number two method of fishing these summer walleye’s and another fun bite is using and casting crankbaits. Two choices and a straight minnow bait with its erratic motions along with deep diving baits like Berkley’s Frenzy’s deep Diver to work closer to the bottom you are fishing.

Before leaving the weedbeds this is where the cranking methods can pull some additional fish. Equipment check list and I prefer a baitcasting rod/reel combination. Again Abu Garcia’s line of bait casters like the C-3 spooled with 10 pound XT or
Fire Line worked with a medium action 6 to 7 foot Touring rod will give you those long casts and still have the needed backbone for good hook sets. Cast, retrieve, pause and retrieve across weeds and the results will be there. Deeper diving baits work well when sliding off the breakline just reaching the weeds and covering the bottom structure where walleye’s so often are.

Crankbaits and the reefs should be worked and a prime time is when prevailing winds are pushing against structure areas. The shallow north end reefs of Little Bay excel in results on days of high wind and don’t overlook Big Bay’s potential when it comes to casting crankbaits.

The third method of finding summer time “eye’s” in hot August is a finesse method of live bait fishing. The Roach Rig, a favorite rig of mine let’s you fish all three areas that hold walleyes in the summer with probably the most subtle method of catching sometimes lock jawed fish. A sliding sinker that has an adjustable snell length of which you generally can start short and increase to longer lengths of which at the end is a bait hook.

Tackle choices here and I’d suggest a medium action spinning rod like a Roach’s Livebait rod with a Cardinal reel and 6 pound ultra-clear XL line should give you a very natural presentation and yet able to fight and land large fish. Livebait we use either a minnow(redtail chub) that we usually lip hook when looking for fish and tail hook when we’ve spotted fish. Nightcrawlers seem to be the favorite diet of these Great Lakes walleye and nose hooking a healthy crawler and placing a tiny bubble of air in it’s collar should keep it right off the bottom and in the face of Mr. Walleye! These rigs can be fished effectively in all water areas and should be used when other methods fail. This makes a successful day sometimes out of a slow day. Edges of weedbeds, reef drop-offs, and deep basin waters should be watched for and seeing walleye’s positioning above them and working these rigs should net results.

The “Trolling Method” by no means boring if done right is a very effective method during the summer doldrums. The importance of locating active schools of walleye’s and remembering the factors of cover, food and the comfort zone and trolling is an optional method of catching a consist amount of walleye’s.

The two methods of trolling presentations are using spinner nightcrawler rigs and crankbaits. The water’s of both the Bay’s offer good trolling for walleye at this time and generally we’ll work these methods either all the same presentation or mix it with spinners and cranks. These Basin fish or “deep water” fish can sometimes be more consistent in biting and here’s our approach. Floatn’Spin’s with a nickel blade and healthy fat crawler worked off the bottom with a Rock-Runner Bottom Bouncer will cover those bottom hugging fish.

Speed of trolling these spinners should be slow! Keeping the blades revolving is key and using a thumping or larger blade while fishing these deep waters of the basin will attract and get some real aggressive hits. Running numerous lines gives you a wider pattern to cover over these large stretches of water and Off-Shores In Line Planer boards do a great job on this boat. Simply pinch on and then off makes their application a simple one and it’s easy to run 6 or 8 lines with ease.

Crankbait trolling bangs some good hot, summer “eye’s” and structuring down to find them is fairly easy. Again choosing rattling cranking baits gets the job done, picking the natural colors most present in the Bay’s and shad colors, perch and blues are a good start. Finding correct depths and Off-Shore’s Snap-On Weights are great and easy. After one or two trips using these tools and you’ll become efficient in trolling too.

Again trolling speed should always be checked and monitored closely when fish are seen and taken. A trolling engine or optional kicker motor is a real aid in trolling. The innovation of the 4-stroke motors have been great and Mercury’s 9.9 has a smokeless, troll ability and you have to get right next to it to hear it running.

Tackle picks and the modern technologies have given us some pretty sophisticated equipment: trolling rods and 7 to 8 footers are good, we use Roach Planer Board rods and line counter reels with 10 or 12 pound test XL line. The Fire Line is remarkable for trolling applications and gives great response and reaction to all your bait options.

Another great tool for you “trollers” and a copy of Precision Trolling will help understand types of crankbaits and depths they will best be fished. Try it this year!

Keeping a clean boat and one with room makes a real walleye fishing machine, plenty of room to move around to fish comfortable and ease of operating all equipment aboard.

Using all the Optional Tools for better fishing!

Live bait is one of the most importance tools on any fishing trip, Frabill’s minnow bucket and worm containers are a must for the liveliest bait not to mentioning having a quality fishing net and the Power Catch is the best walleye net I’ve used.

All the optional tools and this includes many; acquired fishing knowledge from the simplest to the most advanced is a tool used probably the least. What about our boat tools; the electronics, our eye’s to the lake structure. Running areas and the Clearwater Pro covers just about all our fishing needs for detail in depth readings. Running areas and reliability of our Mercury EFI engines gets us out and back with ease.

When fishing the Bay’s De Noc water’s you should always watch weather conditions and being safe always as winds can make for choppy conditions. Boat control for fishing all these conditions and electric power like the MinnKota’s mighty Maxxum 74 with it’s 74 pounds of pull and toughness gets us into the most fishy’ spots and power that lasts all day.

Tackle picks and choices and selecting the best equipment you can. One thing for sure is using fresh fishing line, this in itself will help you in catching more fish.

Hot, summer, sultry day’s of August by no means are fishless days and the Great Lakes water’s of Little and Big Bay De Noc without any question can prove just this. When looking for walleye’s don’t let the summer months discourage you remembering
you’ve got many good alternate locations for finding fish; weeds, reefs and the deep water basins should be able to point you in the right direction.

Versatility is so key in becoming a more successful fisherman and when we go fishing we always want to catch fish the day we go fishing!

Editor’s Note: You can visit Captain Marty Papke at http://www.littlebaydenoc.comor email him at


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