By Brandon Butler
When anglers arrive to fish the waters of Lake Monroe, most of them are targeting bass or crappie.
Bluegills, catfish, and hybrid wipers are often targeted as well. But the lake’s walleye population is often overlooked.
Walleye are a lot more prevalent in Lake Monroe than most people realize.
Longtime fishing industry professional Lawrence Taylor loves targeting walleye in the summer. He’s fished for “marble-eyes” across most of their North American range.
While Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada may be where walleye reign supreme, they can be caught across much of the Midwest. Lake Monroe happens to be one body of water with quite an offering of walleye.
“Active walleyes can be approached like bass,” Taylor said. “Put the trolling motor down at the bow and move quickly to cover those shallow-water spots. Weeds are basically ambush stations for walleyes.
“When they set up along the deep weed edge — a strategy often employed where perch populations are dense — approach them with slightly lighter tackle and soft plastics on jigs. Soft swimbaits fished slowly near the bottom brings walleyes ripping out of pockets in the weedline.”
Many think of jigging minnows and leeches for walleye. Taylor doesn’t use live bait often in the summer.
“Few of the best walleye pros use bait between the beginning of July and the end of September,” he said. “It’s not necessary. Walleyes in weeds rise right into the tops of cabbage, coontail, hydrilla and milfoil, looking for small panfish, golden shiners, shad and any other baitfish that swim by. Bait is a perpetual nuisance here, ripping free of hooks whenever a jig or lure needs to be popped off the weeds.”
Lures should also mimic the size you would consider using for bass. Not too big, but not too small.
“Almost any lure or package in the 3- to 5-inch range that can be worked between the weeds and the surface will take walleyes here,” Taylor explained. “The crux is finding lures or speeds that touch the weeds without getting too involved. During warm, stable weather, walleyes crush rattle baits all through the day. No need to wait until evening.”
Even though he doesn’t use many minnows in the summer, Taylor still likes to imitate minnows. He just prefers the ease of casting lures over dealing with everything that goes into using live bait.
“Minnow-shaped cranks or stick baits are deadly for walleyes,” he said. “Suspending baits are especially effective, using a basic pause-and-pull retrieve, but they often dig a little too deep to work over the tops of the weeds.
“With the boat on the weed edge, make short pitches parallel to the weeds in the direction you’re moving and let the bait hit bottom. The right retrieve speed is critical, and tends to be easiest to achieve with a quarter-ounce jig head.”
Taylor notes that hard baits, plastics, and bass tactics score massive numbers and trophies from mid-summer though early fall, especially during periods of stable weather.
Walleye are known far and wide for their culinary appeal. Many fans of eating freshwater fish will argue the walleye is best tasting of all.
The population of walleye in Lake Monroe is healthy. Fishermen who are looking to put a real treat on the table would be well served by putting a few Lake Monroe walleye in the cooler and serving some of the tastiest fillets to ever grace your dinner table.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.