Aquatic plants in lakes across the walleye belt begin to die back in late August and September, leaving baitfish that have relied on weedy cover all summer long more exposed to predators.

“It also leaves walleyes that have lived in the weeds, like bass, during the warm months more exposed to fishermen,” said Minnesota angler and Cotton Cordell brand ambassador Bob Bohland. “When broadleaf weeds like curly leaf pondweed begin to decline in late summer, young-of-the-year bluegills and crappies become vulnerable; they have nowhere to go and the walleyes feast on them.”

Prime areas in many of the lakes Bohland fishes range from 6 feet of water where the declining weeds top out at around 4 feet, to 12-foot depths where the plants are still 8 feet tall. Although, he adds, depths and plant heights can vary in different lakes, depending on water temps, daylight hours and bottom content.

“Too many walleye fishermen are still focusing on classic structure this time of year,” he said. “Now they can get into places where only bass fishermen could throw topwaters during the summer, and they should be focusing on the weeds.”

This is especially true in lakes that are regularly stocked with walleyes, he added, as pen-reared fish are often weed-oriented to begin with.

 The angler advised that low-light periods (4 a.m. to sunup and 8 p.m. to midnight) are prime times. “Walleyes move shallow in the evening and often stay there all night,” he said. “But I like the early-morning shift better because you can intercept the fish as they slide back toward deeper water.”

Slow-trolling a wide-wobbling crankbait, like the Cotton Cordell Big O, tight to the weed edge is the key to catching these weed walleyes. “You want something with a big wobble that doesn’t dive too deep,” he explained, “so use the 2-inch version and let it back only 30 feet if you’re using an electric trolling motor or backtrolling with the outboard — maybe 50 feet if you’re forward trolling with the outboard.”

Start at 1 mph, but use the lure to dial in the speed, he advised. If the bait isn’t ticking weeds, speed up a bit; if it’s digging in, slow down.

“During daylight hours, cast something like a Rebel Tracdown Minnow TD10 along the weed edge, but especially along runs through the weeds made by muskrats, beavers or boat propellers,” he said. “Walleyes stage along these edges and dart out to capture baitfish as they pass by.”