Many fish species can be found throughout the water column during the late summer period. Panfish and predator species alike can be caught at or near the surface of the water column, hunkered down in thick vegetation or cruising weedlines adjacent to steep drops, or suspended over deep basins during this time of year. Having a variety of hardbaits that cover each level of the water column during late summer can improve the odds of catching several fish species in one fishing trip.
With so much bug life and baitfish congregating at or near the surface of the water column, late summer can be a great time of year to chase largemouth and smallmouth bass and northern pike using poppers. The Yo-Zuri 3DR-X Popper is a smaller profile lure at 2 5/8” and 1/4 oz. that works well during lowlight periods of the day, when the wind is under 5 miles per hour, and when fish are extremely finicky. The Bone or Ghost Prism Frog are solid patterns when fished within open pockets formed by lily pads and when chasing fish hunkered down in weeds during the heat of the day. Yo-Zuri 20 lb test SuperBraid is a top line choice when using the 3DR-X Poppers in and around weeds as it is strong enough to hold large bass or pike when they dive for thick cover as is often the case after a strike.
While many walleyes will shift their focus to deep humps, rock piles, and deep flats during late summer, there are inevitably going to be fish that frequent structure in less than 12’ of water as well. Larger walleyes will hunt in and around large cabbage patches where small perch, bluegills, and other minnows seek cover. At 4 3/8” and 1/2 oz., the 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep is a hardbait that stands out among smaller forage that gets the attention of large walleyes waiting for an easy meal to pass in front of them. The Bold Table Rock Shad is arguably one of the most versatile patterns when fishing for walleyes in weeds as it can be effectively fished in clear or tannic-stained water. Changing up the cadence used from fast twitches to simply pulling the Jerkbait forward a few inches at a time allows the Yo-Zuri “Wave Motion Technology” to maximize vibrations that walleyes cannot resist.
Although bluegills and crappies can be found in weeds and wood in late summer, this can also be a great time of year to pursue large schools of fish that suspend over deep water chasing smaller minnows and invertebrates. It is common to find marauding packs of panfish suspended 15-20’ down in 35’+ of water during this time of year. The Rattl’N Vibe, at 2 1/8” and 3/8 oz., is a large enough profile lure that sinks to suspended panfish quickly to maximize water covered effectively, but it is still small enough that big panfish will regularly eat it. Tying Yo-Zuri 6 lb test Hybrid line to the Vibe and then jigging, drifting, and trolling are all great options when pursuing suspended panfish. The Luminescent is a glow-based pattern that works regardless of water clarity and is an excellent choice early and late in the day when light is diminished.
The late summer period can be a great time to chase multiple species of fish in the same trip. Coupling Yo-Zuri lines with the 3DR-X Popper, 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep, and Rattl’N Vibe can give you the opportunity to maximize results during your next multi-species trip on the water.
Tight lines and be safe!
- Mark Maule
Crank Your Way To Suspended Late Summer Slabs
Bobbers, worms, tiny jigs and hooks, and flies are oftentimes associated with chasing
large panfish. However, summer is the time when big panfish, especially nomadic suspended
slab crappies, become hungry predators. The late summer period can be an especially effective
time to capitalize on their voracious appetites by using small crankbaits for fish suspending just
below the surface down to the thermocline.
When big crappies are suspended within the first 5’ of the water column, the 3DR-X
Shad is a must. The 3DR-X Shad is a new 2 3/8”, 1/4 oz. suspending crankbait that can be
worked just under the surface of the water down to about 5’. It is an exceptionally versatile
small crankbait with an internal scale finish that perfectly mimics the minnows that crappies
feed on near the surface. It can be casted, trolled, or drifted effectively for shallow suspended
fish. Casting when conditions are calm, especially at dawn or dusk, can be a dynamite way to
fish the 3DR-X Shad when a more finesse-based approach is needed. When windier conditions
exist, trolling and drifting the 3DR-X Shad can be great ways to cover as much water as possible
to chase bigger crappies feeding near the surface.
Depending on the conditions and where the forage is located, crappies will sometimes
be found a bit deeper as summer progresses. In these instances, it may be necessary to dig
down a little further in the water column to catch them when they are suspended. The 3DB
Shad is a 2 3/4” and 3/8 oz. lure that works well when chasing crappies that suspend 8-12’
down in the water column. This lure will dive to around 6’, which works great for mid-range
crappies as these fish are notorious for uphitting a lure. Fish over 12” will readily come up 4-6’
in the water column to chase down a larger meal during the late summer period. Trolling is
arguably one of the most effective ways to fish the 3DB Shad for big crappies in late summer. It
is a search bait that allows for covering a lot of water, and it elicits strikes from the most
aggressive bigger fish in a school when trolled quickly above them.
2 1/8” Rattl’N Vibe
The 2 1/8” Rattl’N Vibe is a 3/8 oz. lipless crank that works great for situations where
crappies are suspended from 12’ down to the thermocline. This lure is large enough to sink to
the depths where the fish are located, yet, it is small enough so that larger crappies will still
readily feed on it without hesitation. Experimenting with the movement of the 2 1/8” Rattl’N
Vibe is key feature when fish are stationed more than 12’ down as it is possible to catch big
crappies by casting, trolling, drifting, and jigging. The key is to make sure that the lure is
constantly moving to resemble a struggling baitfish so fish instinctively attack it.
As the heat of summer progresses, choosing crankbaits that cover all areas of the water
column where fish are located can put some solid crappies in your livewell. Gear up with the
3DR-X Shad, 3DB Shad, or 2 1/8” Rattl’N Vibe, and get ready for some late summer slab action!
Stay safe and tight lines!
Watch as Mark Maule shows the guys from Midwest Outdoors how he uses the Rattlin' Vibe Mini on his Kayak for crappie and panfish:
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With old man winter quickly approaching and the temperatures are dropping, the last chance to fish open water is coming to a close. There are still good quality walleye to be caught and the last chance to stock your freezer before having to drag out the snow mobile and ice drill. With water temperatures hitting the mid-forties, it’s just a matter of time before the first sheet of ice hits the water.
When it comes to catching walleye, I have two favorite Yo-Zuri baits. The first choice is the Duel Hardcore Shad. This bait excels in spring, summer, and fall – especially deadly around this time of year near weed edges in 4-6 foot. The Hardcore Shad has a tight wobble upon retrieve, and the suspending capability makes this a great choice for triggering feeding walleye with a twitch-and-pause retrieve. Lastly the magnetic weight transfer system allows effortless long casting necessary in more clear bodies of water such as the St. Lawrence River.
My second choice is the Yo-Zuri Rattl’N Vibe. These lipless crankbaits excels in all seasons for covering various depths. These baits shimmy and rattle vertically on the drop and are equally as effective employing a straight retrieve, or the secret weapon, a yo-yo retrieve. When you contact bottom or a weed bed, a firm snap makes the bait dart and really triggers walleye to crush it. The Vibe works equally well ice fishing for winter ‘eye. So even when the dreadful ice happens, make sure you keep your 3/8oz sizes handy.
For fishing both these lures I prefer to use a 2500 series spinning reel loaded with 20lb Yo-Zuri Superbraid Blue with a four foot leader of 12lb Natural Clear Yo-Zuri TopKnot leader The blue colored braid for helping to detect bites. I rely on a 7ft medium action rod with a fast tip for making long accurate casts, and for keeping fish pinned after the hookset.
Up around the north where I am from it is hard to find a tackle shop that isn’t fully stocked of Yo-Zuri products. Be sure to pick up a few extra of these baits because sometimes the walleye will surprise you in how strong they are. Another rule of thumb is to always rely on your shine/ chrome colors on sunny days and more natural colors on darker days. I always try to hit the water when the weather seems the worth, although fishing in the snow and wind affects the angler, it can produce some of the best days to catch a good stringer of fish.
Lastly, don’t forget the hushpuppies and fries!!!