Jigging Walleyes 102
by Paul Rohweller
LOCATION AND BOAT CONTROL
In Jigging Walleyes 101 we learned the importance of quality rods, jigs and line, we also learned that there is a ton of different styles of jigheads on the market today and where they are best presented.
All that information is top notch if you are able to show your presentation to the fish. To keep it simple lets start with a typical mesotrophic central Minnesota lake. The preferred species, WALLEYE!!
Starting around mid may the walleyes are generally all done with the spawning ritual and ready to nourish their depleted resources that were all but forgotten about during the spawn.
Locations to look for post spawn walleyes include the edges of large shallow windswept gravel shoreline flats that have hosted a spawn, river and larger creek mouths plus any handy structure such as a point, finger, weedbed , a close by sand or gravel bar, or an inside turn on shorebreak.
The question you must ask yourself anytime your searching for walleyes is "Where's the food?" The walleyes are never too far from dinner.
A big part of becoming a successful angler is being able to locate food sources and how the walleyes relate to them. Perch, ciscoes, crawfish and each other make up just a part of their eat whatever's handy diet.
The walleyes will start to disperse from these areas as the water warms up and the food moves.
Preferred jigging techniques for this timeframe include longline shallow jig presentations and vertical jigging with minnows.
Moving along with the flow of mother nature brings us into early summer, the days are growing longer and you can start seeing changes in the lakes.
The first major bug hatches of the season, the good cabbage beds you had so much fun in last summer are starting to come back to life. In general the food chain is speeding up along with the waters temperature.
The walleyes are starting to bunch up and are taking full advantage of all the new food sources. Times were a little thin since the ice went off. This is the time they make up for it.
Locations include large near shore flats and sandbars, the new growth but not yet mature weedbeds and hard to soft bottom transition areas.
Jig fishing rules this timeframe. Everyone who climbs in a boat is catching fish it seems. Preferred technique for this timeframe is vertical or near vertical jigging. The bait can range from minnows and just starting with leeches.
This takes us to the summer peak. Nearly everything in the lake is in full bloom, the weedbeds have reached their maximum growth for the season, the young of the year baitfish are growing big enough to become lunch, the thermocline begins to form and the fish are seeking refuge from the suns penetrating rays and an easy meal. This is when weedbeds and weedlines shine.
What makes a good weedbed? Most mesotrophic lakes have some form of broadleaf weeds such as curlyleaf cabbage and pondweed. The key is the wide leaves that provide shade and reduced water temperature with high oxygen levels caused by the weeds.
Weeds also provide the same benefits for the food source plus protection from the predators. The deeper the weeds are growing and the closer drop-offs into the main lake basin make this situation all the better. Putting them on a mid depth hump or deep point can make them dynamite!
Preferred jigging techniques for the weeds include rip jigging with a leech, crawler or minnow, still fishing with a slip bobber and the bait of your choice, vertical jigging along the edges of your favorite weedline.
The weeds are nearly always the place to be right up until fall, this timeframe produces most of our trophy class fish and predictable bites right up to the turnover.
The turnover, a time of rapid and drastic changes in the walleyes world. The thermocline breaks and the water mixes up, you might even notice a change in the odor and color of the lake.
The best way to beat the thermocline blues are to choose another lake that hasn't turned over yet or one that has already turned over and has settled back into a regular routine.
Oxygen levels replenishedshed below the depths where the thermocline existed during the summer. The baitfish are free to roam the depths and the walleyes are right behind them.
Deep humps, points, soft to hard bottom transition areas and deep flats will hold nice fish if you take the time to look for them.
Preferred jigging techniques for this deep bite include vertical and near vertical jigging, and thumping. Bait of choice is nearly always a shiner or redtail.
A properly rigged boat is a vital key to consistently putting fish on the scoreboard. Splashguards, rope cleats in all the right places, electric trolling motors front and rear, plus small gas outboards on bigger boats all add up to being as versatile as possible.
High quality electronics are an absolute must, they are your eyes below the water, don't shortchange yourself there.
Where you find your walleyes and the wind dictates how you must fish for them. The wind is nearly always blowing so instead of cursing at it, let it become your moody but ever present partner in boat control.
Backtrolling an edge is a basic skill that is easily learned with some practice. Starting on the downwind end of your pass put the transom of the boat directly into the wind.
Watching your locator to judge your depth use the forward and reverse on your motor to keep your bait in the zone. Putting the motor in neutral and letting the wind push the boat right back over certain areas can often times produce fish that you missed the first trip through the spot.
Use the wind to help position the boat and move up and down the breakline. It is a treat to watch someone who has mastered this skill. we call them "dances with walleyes".
Controlled drifting comes into play when your fish are scattered all over a large flat. Starting on the upwind side of a flat turn the boat sideways with the wind and let it push you and your bait over the top, sometimes when its really windy you might want to use a driftsock to slow your speed down.
Your electric trolling motors can also be used to help keep the boat straight and helps keep you from those evil tangled lines.
A global positioning system (GPS), can be very helpful when drifting a large flat. It can show you where you have caught fish and keep you from repeating an unproductive pass. Your screen can be so full of lines its hard to tell where you've been.
Some days the fish just don't want to chase. You have to hit them on the nose and keep it there. Anchoring can be the thing to do.
Using two anchors, one in the front and one at the rear, position your boat in or near the area that you choose to fish.
Bobber fishing in the weeds or casting jigs off the top of a breakline when anchoring is a necessity.
Once again work with the wind and not against it. Start by anchoring upwind of your area if possible. You can let the wind drift your bobbers through the area, starting your bobber drifting in different spots each time it's possible to cover a large piece of water from one spot.
These are just a few scenarios that you will encounter every season on the water, with practice they become easier, both location and boat control.
Every body of water is different but a walleye is still a walleye. The better you know the nature of the fish the better angler you will become. Jig fishing is as simple as any presentation can be, choosing the right rod and reel, the right jig and being able to put it in front of fish is what it's all about!
With Jigging Walleyes 101 and 102 you should have a really good start on a plan of attack for the upcoming season.
Lets hope that it is safe, productive and most importantly fun! We will see you all on the water!!!
Pine to Prairie Guide Service