Did you ever have one of those walleye fishing trips where you just couldn't find the right pattern to put any fish in the boat? We all have! Well there's one presentation that doesn't get much attention by most anglers but has saved the day for me on more than a few occasions ... jigging spoons for shallow-water walleyes.
This is an especially deadly tactic on lakes and reservoirs where walleyes have plenty of shallow water cover and structure like rocks, sparse weeds or a combination of the two. When the fish are not in their typical locales, they can often be in shallow water chasing schools of small minnows. That's when this presentation excels. From early summer through fall, this is a technique you really need to have in your bag of walleye-catching tricks.
Normally when one thinks of jigging spoons for walleyes, they think of heavy spoons fished vertically in deep water. That is a productive tactic in certain scenarios, but using jigging spoons to target walleyes in shallow water is a presentation few anglers incorporate, but for my money, is an even more effective tactic. There's a big difference between using jigging spoons for deep-water walleyes and the jigging spoon techniques used to target shallow-water fish. When targeting shallow-water walleyes, think "horizontal" and not "vertical." This is a casting or pitching technique, where short accurate casts are used rather than vertical jigging actions.
Look for shallow-water areas with good rock structure and/or sparse weed cover, typically in the 5- to 10-foot depth range. One other area that this technique works well on is when walleyes relate to the edge of a flat just before it drops to deeper water. Work the spoon parallel to the edges, concentrating on any areas where there are irregularities such as small points, cups or any change that might hold fish. Make short casts with a jigging spoon and work the spoon back to the boat with a series of fairly aggressive "hops," allowing the spoon to flutter down each time. Typical spoon sizes will range from a quarter to half ounce. The heavier the spoon you use, the more aggressive the retrieve can be ... sometimes they want a subtle retrieve, but occasionally you'll find the most aggressive biters by using a heavier spoon which has a faster fall on the hops.
Equipping yourself for this shallow-water jigging spoon bite is fairly simple. I prefer a 7-foot, high-modulus graphite, medium-action spinning rod like the Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Signature Series model WA70MS-HM85, and a quality reel spooled with 10-pound test Berkley Trilene XT. This line is ideal for this, because it's abrasion resistant and has excellent knot strength ... important because you're typically fishing this in and around cover and the action you're putting on the spoon can wear a knot down in a hurry. I like to connect my line to the spoon using a Berkley Cross-Lok Snap in either a size #1 or #3 (sized to match the spoon). This allows the spoon freedom of movement to get the best action. There are a number of good jigging spoons on the market – experiment with a few to find the one that works best for you.
Note: If you have questions or comments on this or other articles of mine you may have read, contact me through the website www.thenextbite.com.
By Gary Parsons