By: Brad Qualley
Early summer fishing is here and the Walleye bite is really picking up. In this article, we will be talking about pitching jigs into the shallows. A couple of weeks ago the jig bite really started going crazy and we started catching a lot of quality eyes. The All Eyes On Fishing staff did a podcast on this subject and I would invite you to not only read this article but check out the podcast at alleyesonfighing.podbean.com titled “Fishing shallow”. I know that you will find the podcast entertaining and it will provide you with what we are doing to get a basket full of fish.
The walleyes this time of year are getting aggressive and are looking to take advantage of the shallow weed growth that starts up close to shore. In Colorado, this time of year brings an influx of water to most of our reservoirs as we are getting a lot of run off from the melting snow in the mountains. With all that water, we are seeing the lakes getting full and submerging some of those shoreline trees. Most of our lakes are filled with Shad for baitfish and they move into the submerged vegetation and begin to spawn. Because of the trees in the water and the growth of weeds on the shoreline and the spawning Shad, we start to focus on those areas as they are great for those ambushing walleye.
We start off by setting up our boat position far enough from shore so when we cast, we can get our jigs up onto the shoreline. You will want to use the lightest jig you can use to make you cast far enough to reach the sweet spot. The typical size jig head is 1/16, 1/8 to 1/4 ounce. We will use all kinds of plastics but if I had to choose the one that we use the most I would have to say it is the Berkley Gulp 3” twister tail or 4” Berkley Powerbait Rip Shad, with the thumper tail. There is a multitude of jig heads out there that will work and which one you choose is personal preference. I find myself using Northland heads because they are easy to find and they have a wide selection of weights and colors but if you have time to order some jigs you can’t go wrong with a company out of Minnesota by the name of Crystaleyes Jigs. These jigs are the real deal. They have a great widegap hook and their color patterns and reflective jig eyes really make them a solid performer.
Now it’s time to select your rod and reel for this presentation. I use a 7 foot Esox rod with a 1500 Shimanno Sedona spinning reel. This is really my personal preference as I like the sensitivity of the rod and smooth retrieve of the Sedona reel. This is what I use but you need to use what you are comfortable with as long as it is long enough to cast those light jigs and sensitive enough to feel those light bites. Now that you have your rod picked out make sure you set yourself up with quality line. My top choice is the Berkley Crystal Fireline 10 pound test/4 pound diameter. I like this line because it casts really well, it is super sensitive and very fast with no line stretch. When the water has visibility of a couple feet or more I will tie on a two to three foot fluorocarbon leader as this line is virtually invisible in the water. I suggest P-line 10lb test as my top performer and I’ve used them all.
So now you have your rod and reel spooled up with Fireline and your selected jig, you are ready to go to work. Like I mentioned, you need to position your boat close enough to shore so you can work the shoreline. Start off by casting your jig way up into the shallows. You will want to focus on two types of retrieves. The first is a steady retrieve. If you have weed growth or brush in the water this retrieve will need to be fast enough that you are just ticking the weed and brush tops. This will take a bit of time to figure out and at first you will get snagged up a bit, but keep at it you will find the slowest retrieve you can and not get hung up. The other presentation that seems to be deadly is, pitch your jig up into the shallow shoreline and drag it back ever so slow. With your sensitive rod and using the Fireline you will be able to feel the jig dragging on the bottom and working up and down the shoreline structure. If your jig starts to get hung up you will usually know it before it gets totally hung up. When that happens just drop your rod tip which will allow that jig to fall and this will clear your jig most the time. The bite will be super subtle or you will get smashed. You really need to pay attention to anything that is out of the normal when dragging your jig back to the boat. If you feel something that is out of what you are feeling as normal for the spot you are fishing it is probably a fish picking it up. My philosophy is, when in doubt “set the hook”. Once you have set the hook and you have a fish on now is the time to get that fish up and out of the cabbage/brush so they don’t get you buried in that stuff. The last thing you want to do is loose a quality fish that had the opportunity to get down in the brush and break you off.
Jig fishing is a blast. It is you against the fish and who is quicker to realize the bite. Again, I encourage you to listen to our Podcast on “Fishing shallow”. There is a lot of things you can pick up from listening to the presentation that I can’t put into words.
This time of year, there are a couple of techniques that really work well. This article covers jig fishing for what you should be doing now but All Eyes On Fishing staff, Josh Sheldon just put published an article “Bottom Bouncers 101” and both techniques are what you should be doing now. In the next article, we will be covering trolling crankbaits. The baitfish have spawned and balls of baitfish are in our future and cranking will be the next go too. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Podbean, YouTube and Twitter so you don’t miss out on the latest information. From all of us at All Eyes On Fishing, we look forward to “leading you to the next level”.