Jigging Heavy Cover for Walleyes

Fishing heavy weedgrowth with jigs is an awesome option in early summer. My favorite time to jig thick vegetation is when the weeds are maturing and first hit the surface. Usually this is in the first part of June on my home waters in north-central Minnesota. Walleyes—including big ones—are up shallower than most fishermen realize, feeding aggressively in these tangled weedbeds.

Total Solutions Technique

The first step is identifying prime weedbeds. The best are cabbage, coontail or bulrush beds adjacent to deeper water. Walleyes rarely are found way back in shallow weeds, far from deep water. Using my electric trolling motor to position the boat along the outside edge of the weeds, I make short casts—no more than, say, 40 feet—into slots, channels and pockets of open water within a thick weedbed.

I let the jig fall to bottom and make a slow retrieve. A lot of anglers make the mistake of fishing jigs way too fast in thick weeds. You want the walleyes to have time to notice the jig and move in to check it out. I like to twitch a couple of times, slowly move it maybe six inches, then twitch it some more. Bites can be hard to detect, because the walleyes often just swim up and inhale the jig—they don’t “swim through” the strike or swim off with the bait. Often, a tightening of the line is your only clue a fish has picked up the jig. When you detect a strike, reel down and set the hook with a sweeping motion to get the fish moving up and out of the cover. Then keep the pressure on until it is clear of the jungle below.

Total Solutions Equipment

My heavy cover jigging arsenal includes ¼-ounce “arrowhead” leadheads that penetrate thick vegetation without constant hang-ups. I tip them with 3- and 4-inch Gulp! Minnows (two-tone colors such as Chartreuse Shad are hard to beat). I use a 1-foot mono leader of Trilene XT, with a small barrel swivel separating it from the main line—which is typically Fireline. The pound test should match the main line.

I fish a 6½-foot, medium-fast graphite rod—something with a fast tip and plenty of  backbone for getting the fish out of thick cover—like Fenwick’s HMG model HMG66M-FS. I match it with a 308PRO Mitchell spinning reel loaded with 10/4 or 14/6 Berkley FireLine in Crystal.

Berkley® 3 inch GULP!® Minnow

Berkley® Trilene XT®

Fenwick® HMG® Spinning Rod
Image result for MITCHELL 310PRO
Mitchell 308PRO

Berkley® FireLine Crystal™

Berkley® FireLine®


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