Devils Lake, N.D.
Fish Here: While most fish the wood, consider going deeper. From northwest to southeast, the main basin areas get progressively deeper. Choose a mini portion of the lake with a mix of shallow manmade structure and deep rock, such as the main lake or East Bay. Deep rock on steep edges throughout West Bay, the main lake and East Bay all hold good fish in 35 to 45 feet of water. Remember, those fish will likely die from barotrauma upon reaching the surface. Consider catching to eat if targeting those depths. Edges of areas like the Golden Highway, a large submerged roadbed on the west side of the lake, can be great areas to pull spinners.
Use This: Lead core didn’t get much attention here until recently, but it can produce big fish with baits like a No. 12 Husky Jerk. The traditional approach is bottom bouncing deep roadbeds. A lead core/bottom bouncer one-two punch can be deadly for finding then focusing on fish.
Lake Erie, Detroit, Mich.; Toledo, Port Clinton and Sandusky, Ohio
Fish Here: There are so many places to fish on this consistent walleye producer. First, determine the depths you’d like to target. It’s worth trailering as close as possible to the area you intend to fish, especially if the wind is blowing. The islands northeast of Port Clinton and north of Sandusky provide summer-long action and a slight respite from certain wind angles. Areas directly north of Kelleys Island, leading up to deep rock to mud transitions off Middle Bass, draw ample focus. Rattlesnake Island to the west is also a perennial favorite, but often gets buffeted by west winds. This is big-rig country, so be prepared for big swells and caps.
Use This: Erie is full of walleyes right now, and in water deeper than 20 feet, they show up well on electronics due to their size. Plan to spend some time graphing, then pull lead core with larger stick baits at relevant depths until you’ve located fish. From there, feel free to switch to bottom bouncing, a local go-to technique during any of Erie’s legendary bug hatches.
Lake of the Woods, Baudette, Minn.
Fish Here: This system offers excellent fishing during portions of the summer when other lakes pose problems. From the south shore, it can be a long haul over big water to reach some really popular fishing locations, but walleyes can be found throughout the lake. Popular locations include the Garden Island area of Starren Shoal and reefs like Knights and Bridges. Each day in late summer, dozens of charter boats leave the Rainy River gap and head north for broad basin areas. These feature little depth change and hold many schools of hungry walleyes that chase bait in 25 to 30 feet of water.
Use This: Vertical jigging shines here, and it’s what most charter boats are doing. Heavy jigs tipped with salted emerald shiners—known as “salties”—are productive when targeting these basin fish. Feel is crucial here. Experiment with instant hooksetting or giving fish time to take baits fully in their mouths. Northland Tackle makes some Long Shank Fire-Ball jigs that dramatically increase hooking rate and save bait.