The biggest factor for successfully catching late season walleyes is to know their seasonal migrations on your particular body of water. That will tell you where to find the fish, and in turn, give clues as to what the best presentation will be to catch them. In rivers for instance, walleyes begin to migrate up river toward spring spawning areas. While they won’t necessarily set up in the same spots you’ll find them come spring, they will be close. Deep, main river holes just down river from spawning flats are good places to start the search. Vertical jigging the head and tail end of the holes should yield some fish and indicate whether or not you’re on the right pattern.
Total Solutions Technique:
Vertical Jigging uses a jig tipped with bait and/or some other attractor such as an artificial tail. In jigging the angler imparts the action that triggers the fish. This makes jigging very versatile as you can use a wide variety of jigging motions from very aggressive “popping” actions to ultra subtle “dragging” techniques.
Presenting a jig directly below the boat as you drift down river is not as simple as it sounds. It’s imperative to keep the boat, and the jig, drifting at the same speed as the current in order to maintain as vertical a presentation as possible.
Don’t think that you’re going to be able to vertical jig by just dropping a jig over the side and drifting down the river aimlessly. Your boat’s “drag”, as well as the wind, need to be compensated for to get the proper drift. The best way to handle this is from the bow of the boat with your bowmount trolling motor. Always point the bow of the boat into the wind and use the appropriate amount of power to compensate for the wind speed. Keeping proper speed is just part of the game. Maintaining proper depth, or holding on a break or channel edge require that you keep your eyes on the depth finder at all times. Now you begin to see what makes this kind of fishing tougher than many might expect. Some anglers opt to keep the bowmount motor at a constant speed and make small adjustments to adjust their drift. I’ve found a technique called “Bursting” is much more efficient. Bursting is done by setting the motor at a higher speed and using short powerful bursts to maintain drift speed and direction. The advantage to this is that as you begin to loose the “vertical” attitude in your presentation, you can more quickly regain “vertical” with a quick burst of power.
Total Solutions Equipment:
Since you’re imparting the action to the jig, live bait isn’t always necessary. Using artificial tails, such as a 3 inch Berkley GULP! Minnow or a Berkley PowerBait Rib Worm will add not only action but also scent to the presentation. Artificials stay on the hook better than live bait especially when fishing in snaggy areas or when using an aggressive jigging motion.
Sensitivity is crucial. You need to feel everything the jig is doing at all time. A quality, high-modulus graphite rod, coupled with a small diameter, no-stretch line like 6 or 8 pound test Berkley Nanofil will insure you’re rigged right for the task. Using a bright colored main line like Nanofil in Hi-Vis Chartreuse, will help you in seeing the line and be better able to maintain a vertical presentation. When using a bright colored line I often tie on a 3 foot leader to the line made of 8 or 10 pound test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to cut down on any visibility issues, especially in clear water.