Jensen column: Use jigs for fall walleyes
The fall season is a great time to catch lots of walleyes, and it's a great time to catch big walleyes. There are also a lot of outstanding ways to catch walleyes this time of year, but if limited to one presentation, many of the best walleye anglers in the Midwest would choose a jig. Here's how you can catch more and bigger walleyes on jigs in the next few weeks.
Be aware that autumn walleyes can be found in a variety of locations. I've caught them on deep sunken islands, shallow windblown points, and in flooded timber. Where you're fishing for them will dictate what jig to use, and what you should tip the jig with.
On shallow windblown points and on the deep sunken islands, a Fire-Ball jig is tough to beat. It has a short-shank, wide gap hook that really increases your odds of getting a good hookset. It's a great live bait jig. The only difference in the jig being used in the shallows versus the deeper structure is the weight of the jig. In the shallows, an eighth ounce head would be good, but a sixteenth ounce size would probably be better.
In deep water, a quarter ounce jig or heavier would be best. You want to maintain good contact with the bottom.
If you're using live bait on the jig, it's really hard to beat a redtail chub. Walleyes and smallmouth and just about everything else really like redtails. Redtails are hardy minnows, but the livelier they are, the better they'll be. They'll keep best in an aerated container. The Frabill 1404 container is my favorite. It's quiet, but keeps the bait lively.
Minnows are a good choice for tipping jigs with, but more and more, soft bait is gaining favor. In many situations, soft bait will catch more walleyes. You can work soft bait faster, and you can catch several fish per bait.
When you find the walleyes shallow, try a three inch Power Grub, Power Minnow, or Gulp! Minnow Grub. If the fish are real aggressive, go with the four inch size: You'll catcher bigger fish with bigger bait.
When you switch to soft bait, you'll also want to switch jigs. Soft bait works best with a jig with a long shank. The Mimic Minnow jighead is an excellent jig for soft bait. It has a long shank with a keeper which prevents the bait from sliding down the hook, and the hook itself is large and sharp, which increases hook-ups.
As mentioned earlier, walleyes can be found in flooded timber in many areas. This is another time when soft bait excels. You're going to be ripping that jig through trees. Live bait will last about one cast, but soft bait, since it is more durable, will last much longer.
With live bait, go with six pound test Trilene Sensation line, with soft bait eight or ten pound test Sensation, or 14/6 FireLine will be just right.
Make the time to go fishing in the next few weeks, and be sure to take some jigs along. This is a great time to catch walleyes, and jigs are a great way to do so.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)