How to Catch Summer Walleye: A Guide to French River Fishing

Summer is a time of love and many love to fish. In Northern Ontario, many anglers’ passion is the long warm days of Walleye fishing. For the French River, Walleye are active and move from their spring time patterns to deeper waters and current.

Early Summer Walleye Locations?

Early summer Walleye fishing is like Spring Opener. Typically, they are near shallows and sticking with vegetation and shadowy structures. They hunt for fish eggs and fry, bug larva and minnows while the waters are cooler. Just like how you like room temperature, Walleye prefer to stay in water temperatures around 19.5°C (67°F), but will tolerate water temperatures between 10°C – 24.5°C (50°F – 76°F). 

In the French River Provincial Park, the best places to start for early summer are in the Northern sections of the Lower French River. Your primary areas to target would be shallow bays where the morning sunrise will make minnows active. While crankbaits, spinners and spoons can work – jigging with minnows are preferred. Fish weed edges, rock points and the mouth of the bays in the shadows for Walleye.

Weed structures to target are:

Types of Freshwater vegetation to look for while summer walleye fishing.

  1. Cabbage Weeds
  2. Coontail
  3. Milfoil
  4. Lily Pads

If there is wind, fish the areas the wind is blowing the weaker baitfish into. Walleye are like wolves; they hunt in packs following the baitfish. Wind creates chop on the water which defuses the light, expanding the Walleye’s cover.

For more tips and tricks fishing weed walleye, read Weed Out the Walleyes.

Mid-Summer Walleye Locations?

Once the waters are closer to swimming temperatures, the Walleyes disperse to greater depths. Again, a common tactic is to find schools of baitfish and fish below them. Generally, Walleyes are caught at depths of 6 – 9 metres (20 – 30 feet) in June. During the peak of Summer (July and August), they can be found as deep as 13 metres (46 feet). Walleye are also caught in current where the water is circulated more.

The biggest trick to fishing in the heat of summer is to find the cloud of minnows and fishing underneath them.

Fishing off points in deeper water is key for Mid-Summer Walleye.

Maintaining minnows for bait is also tougher during the peak of summer. Most Walleye anglers switch to worms or leaches. There are a large variety of Walleye lures that are best used during the peak of summer. Minnow shaped crankbaits and jerkbaits are a popular choice.  

Late Summer Walleye Locations?

After the full moon in August, we enter the final weeks of Summer. From late August and most of September more minnows return from the Georgian Bay. Whitefish, Ciscos and Shad are the first to return and fishing with minnows becomes viable again. Worms are also a good choice.

Places to target Walleye in late summer are the main channels. Focus on regions where baitfish are forced to travel through. Walleyes will be around shoals, drop offs and choke points to ambush unsuspecting schools. Fishing locations with current are also prime locations to catch Walleye.

As the waters cool you too will have to slow your retrieve. Fish travel less and their metabolism slows when we transition into fall

Article by Joe Barefoot, M.B., Outdoor Writer and Nationally Published Author & Photographer

For more articles related to walleye fishing visit some of my other articles below:

  1. Walleye vs Sauger: How to Spot the Difference
  2. Understanding Walleye Rods, Reels & Fishing Lines