Talkin' Fishin' column: Get into the action of early season river walleyes
Walleye anglers throughout the Midwest are getting excited. For many of them, their favorite time of the year is quickly approaching. In fact, that favorite time of the year is here. Rivers across the Midwest are seeing lots of use from walleye anglers looking to connect with their favorite fish. Here's how you can get in on the action.
Heading east from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River to several rivers in Wisconsin, more and more anglers are gathering below dams in search of walleyes that are willing to eat. Most of the time those anglers will be using jigs. This time of year it's tough to beat a jig when walleyes are the target. It is very important that your jig is heavy enough to maintain contact with the bottom. In rivers walleyes will almost always be near the bottom, but in the spring it is doubly important that your jig is right on the bottom in the walleye's face.
Jig color can be very important. River waters are often stained in the spring. If that is the case, go with a jig that is mostly chartreuse or orange. A glow jig will be even better in some situations.
A Fire-Ball jig is tough to beat for spring walleyes. It has a short-shank, wide-gap hook, so it's easier to hook the fish that eat your jig.
The Fire-Ball also has an attachment for a stinger hook, and there are times in the spring when a stinger will help you catch a few more fish. Don't use the stinger if the fish are eating the jig, but if you've missed several strikes, it's time to add a stinger.
There seems to be a trend toward rods with a softer tip. Spring walleyes can be light-biters. A rod with a soft tip will prevent them from noticing resistance on the jig, which can give you a little more time to set the hook. There needs to be enough backbone in the rod for a good hookset, but consider trying a rod with a lighter tip. Fenwick and Berkley both make rods in the 6'6" to 7 foot lengths that will do a good job, and the price is right on them as well.
As mentioned, these cold water walleyes can be light biters. Many anglers are using 10/4 FireLine to increase sensitivity. If a fish gently sucks in your jig, FireLine will help you detect the strike better.
We're usually tipping the jig with about a three inch minnow in the spring. Give the jig plenty of pauses to let the minnow wiggle and entice the walleyes into eating.
Soft bait is another excellent choice to put on the back of your jig. A Gulp! Minnow or Power Minnow in the three inch size can be very productive, especially when you get on a group of biters.
Wherever you live in the Midwest, there is a walleye bite going on right now. Take advantage of it.
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.)