A fishing buddy asked me the other day, “if you only could use two fishing methods the whole year, what would they be?” I took that question and answered it from a bass fishing viewpoint in a recent writing. Here I’ll answer it as it pertains to walleyes.
If limited to two walleye fishing methods for the entire year, I would opt for a jig and minnow combination and what I call the “plain rig.” Let’s start with the jig and minnow setup first.
A small jig, maybe a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a fathead or shiner minnow will catch walleyes in lots of waters they swim, particularly early in the season when the fish are shallow. If the fish are very shallow, say inside of 7 feet of water, I will cast and slowly retrieve the combination. In deeper water, particularly if the water has some color, I might use the wind to drift along shallow flats and drop-offs that early season walleyes often inhabit and fish the jig and minnow on a long line behind the boat.
My jig color choice would be chartreuse day in and day out as I’ve had lots of good catches in a variety of waters using that color. I also like a fast action spinning rod and reel combination spooled with 6-pound fluorocarbon line for this method. There is a 6’7” Speed Stick rod model that was designed with walleye jig fishing in mind that I’ve had good success fishing with.
Not only will the jig and minnow work during spring, but walleyes in the summer often hold in weeds. Pitching the same combination to the cover, or “dipping” the offering in pockets in the weeds are good ways to target weedy walleyes during summer and fall.
Summer also often means walleyes holding on deeper structure in lots of lakes in waters from 15- to 30-feet deep. Here is where a “plain rig” shines. The plain rig features a length of about 40 inches of 10-pound fluorocarbon line with 2 hooks “snelled” at the business end. This setup is then tied to a heavy 2-ounce bottom bouncer and baited with a nightcrawler. This rig fishes best on baitcasting gear and with a rod that accommodates the heavy bouncer, but one with a sensitive tip. Lew’s has a 7-foot model in their Speed Stick lineup designed with bottom bouncers in mind that works great for me.
This setup starts to shine around Memorial Day and works all the way into late October and even November some years. The keys are, of course, to be around structure holding walleyes and in how the setup is fished. First, a nearly vertical fishing approach that keeps the bouncer just ticking along bottom avoids snags and gives the bait a fish enticing action. Second, a speed of about .8 to 1 mph seems to work best most days. In fact, the combination of speed and erratic bait action are what makes this rigging method shine.
If you want to shine this coming walleye fishing season, consider the two lure setups just discussed. They aren’t the only two that will put walleyes in your boat, but they are certainly two very productive walleye fishing methods most days.
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series on the Sportsman Channel and several other networks as well. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.