minnows, summer walleyes

Best Time for Minnows (Summer Walleye Tips)


When’s the best time to use minnows for summertime walleye fishing?

Minnesota fishing guide Brad Hawthorne shares a couple different situations where he puts away the other offerings and busts out jumbo-sized minnows.

Typically, I am going to be using minnows when the fish have told me that they prefer minnows over leeches or crawlers on spinners or while you are using rigging techniques; or if I find myself in a tournament situation or in a situation when I am on search of a big walleye.

For most of those eater sized walleyes, nightcrawlers and leeches seem to be the ticket during those mid summer months, but often the best way to target those twenty five inch plus sized walleyes is with large minnows anywhere from five to eight inches long.

A lot of those bigger walleyes are going to be feeding on Ciscos and other bait fish throughout the summer. They are capable and used to keying in on larger size baits.

That is why big minnows often produce those larger fish.

Now when you are using those larger minnows it is definitely going to be a quality over quantity situation. It’s not really the time of year were your going to get twenty bites.

It’s a tactic specifically used to target those bigger walleyes.

Best Time for Minnows (Summer Walleye Tips)

When it comes to using minnows for walleye fishing, there are a few key situations where they can be particularly effective. In this article, I will discuss the best times to use minnows and how they can help you catch more fish, especially in tournament situations.

Using Minnows on Spinners

One of the situations where minnows can be highly effective is when the fish have shown a preference for minnows on spinners. This could be due to the natural movement and scent of the minnows, which can attract walleye and entice them to bite. If you have noticed that the fish are responding well to minnows on spinners, it’s a good idea to incorporate this technique into your fishing strategy.

Rigging Techniques with Minnows

Another situation where minnows can be effective is when you are using rigging techniques. Rigging involves presenting the minnow on a hook with a weight and allowing it to drift or slowly move along the bottom. This technique can be particularly effective for targeting walleye that are holding close to the bottom or in areas with structure. The natural movement of the minnow can be enticing to the fish and increase your chances of getting a bite.

Tournament Situations

In tournament situations, using minnows can be a strategic choice, especially if you are targeting big fish. In some tournaments, there may be restrictions on the size of fish that can be kept, with a limit on the number of slot fish and the allowance of one over-sized fish. When you have already caught a good number of slot fish and are looking to upgrade your catch, using big minnows can be a game-changer.

For example, let’s say the slot limit is 18 inches and you have already caught four fish that are 17 and three-quarter inches. In this scenario, you have reached your limit for slot fish and can now focus on catching a bigger fish. This is where using big minnows, such as six, seven, or eight-inch minnows, can come in handy. By rigging these larger minnows in areas known for holding big fish, you increase your chances of hooking into a trophy-sized walleye.

It’s important to note that using minnows in tournaments is not a guaranteed strategy for success. There may be days where you sit all day without getting a bite or only get a few bites. However, by using minnows based on the preferences of the fish and targeting big fish locations, you increase your odds of landing that elusive trophy walleye.


Minnows can be a valuable tool in your walleye fishing arsenal, especially in certain situations. Whether it’s using minnows on spinners or employing rigging techniques, these baitfish can attract walleye and entice them to bite.

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