I doubt there are any walleyes swimming beneath the floating gardens of Xochimilco near Mexico City. Water temperature and weed growth are similar on lakes in and around the Madison this summer.

Xochimilco has much prettier emergent vegetation. But the Madison chain has walleyes. Weeds might be a curse in Dane County right now, but they also hold the key to fish location.

With water temperatures in the mid-80s and little prevailing wind to stir the mix, these lakes and most others that are deeper than Koshkonong are now in a state of extreme stratification, with walleyes spending almost all of their time cruising the mid-depths of the thermocline layer.

This mid-layer of cooler water is easy to find with decent electronics. But the “old school” method of fishing just beyond the deep weed edge—in openings between floating weeds—with live bait is the most productive presentation now.

Drifting the deep weed edge with a leech under a bobber with the bait within 4 feet of the bottom is a good way to locate cruising fish. Pegging a split shot 12-18 inches above a No. 8 Octopus hook will keep most of the weeds away from the bait.

Areas of lakes Mendota, Monona and a couple of spots on Waubesa where the bottom falls quickly away from about 13 feet to 25-plus feet are high-percentage spots for walleye location under these conditions.

Anchoring up at a place where you can cast a Lindy rig into deeper water and slowly drag it up to the 13-foot contour—or to the deep weed edge—will produce fish consistently once all the finer points are dialed in.

Perhaps the biggest factor right now is creature comfort. Our oppressive summer heat removes a large percentage of the joy factor from the fun fishing equation. The bite window is a short one: essentially from first light at about 5 a.m. to maybe 7:30.

For those folks who believe not fishing is not an option, rising at oh-dark-30 to be in a fishin’ position by dawn’s earliest light is not in harmony with the biorhythms of most humans. Good night vision isn’t part of our genetic design, either.

Cap lights, flashlights taped to the landing net and functional navigation lights are all part of a successful fishing matrix right now. Of course, light draws mosquitoes. Bug juice is also an effective fish repellent, so washing hands with no-scent soap is important when live bait fishing to remove undesirable chemicals, including amino acids on the skin—not to mention that COVID-19 thing.

Although the surface of the Madison chain is pretty much a lovely sea of green, water is generally much clearer in the thermocline layer. Using a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader at least 36 inches long is a good idea.

A No. 6 Circle hook is a good choice under both slip bobbers and the business end of a Lindy rig. A ¼ to 3/8-ounce weight on the Lindy rig is effective on most southern Wisconsin lakes.

The toughest part of this location is trying to find No. 6 Circle hooks—or just about any hook with a special fishing function beyond the basic Mustad or Eagle Claw.

America’s fishing product supply chain has been severely disrupted by the pandemic, with everything from quality rods to soft plastic lures in short supply or out of stock. If you find what you’re looking for, expect to pay a premium price.

Last week I visited the marine dealer to buy three spark plugs and a gallon of oil for the outboard motor. The price? $108.26!

The retail cost of practically all goods and services is off the charts. Fortunately for donors. It is a seller’s market. I’m getting by just fine on a single kidney. One more trip to give up platelets and the spark plugs will be paid for—free and clear.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc

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