Junk Walleyes

This past week, I was coming off of the lake I live on after a wonderful morning of walleye fishing. There was another boat at the landing of course, I got the old “How’s was the bite for you?” question thrown at me. I replied honestly, “Landed 17 eyes and had two over 25 inches.” Next question, “Any keepers?” I responded, “I let them all go, but I could have kept my six between 15 and 18 inches.” Then I got the classic “You Liar “stare.

The guy proceeded to tell me he’s been struggling the last three days to put an ‘eye in the boat. We proceeded with a long discussion on how he was fishing and he was classic in that he was rigging in 15-18 foot of water with leeches. I told him the cabbage has just peeked in growth and the walleyes are up shallow in the heavy cabbage. He just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

Total Solutions Technique

Every year when summer peaks, when the weeds hit it max growth for the year comes around, there is a window of opportunity for the walleye angler to go junk fishing in the heavy cabbage with great results.

The best location is cabbage adjacent to deep water. The deeper the cabbage the better. In most lakes, deep cabbage is in 10-12 foot of water. If your lake only gets cabbage in 5 of water, fish it.

This is more or less a flipping technique. You make short casts, 15 feet or less, and it is very visual. You pitch your jig into the pockets on the outside edge of the cabbage. Let the jig sink into the pocket and give it a few up and down jigging motions. If nothing bites, pick up the line and pitch to the next pocket. Once you have worked the outside edge, move right into the cabbage flat and flip open the open pocket in the cabbage. It’s just like flipping for largemouth.

One thing to remember is that you’re working pretty heavy cover and livebait doesn’t cut it here. You’re constantly snapping your jig through the weeds. Minnows and leeches just get ripped off. This is prime time for soft baits.

Total Solutions Equipment

You have to go with fairly heavy equipment for the walleye world when fishing this technique.  The cover is heavy and cabbage is a tough weed.  I prefer a bait casting rod in this situation.  The Fenwick HMG Casting Model HMG66MH-FC  a 6’6” medium fast action rod.  It has a soft enough tip to feel the bite, yet enough backbone to haul big walleyes out of heavy cover. If you prefer a spinning rod, use the Fenwick HMG Spinning Model HMG76L-MFS-2.  This is a brut stick of a spinning rod.  The length helps in flipping baits out and it has all the power you will need to haul fish out of the cabbage.

You have two options for line here.  The new Crystal Fireline is great in this cover.  The white line shows up well and makes a great strike indicator.  Use the 14/6 Crystal Fireline. For mono options, use Trilene XT (SOLAR) in 14 pound test.  The bright line also shows up well and this line is just plain mean and will haul fish out of the weeds well.

Jigs:  This is where a lot of guys struggle.  Walleye fisherman are always told to go as light as possible and this technique goes away from that theory.  You’re fishing heavy weeds and need to get down in the cover.  A ¼ ounce jig is very light for this system.  I generally use a 3/8 to a 1 ounce jig with this technique depending on the cover.  A good rule, the lighter the cover, the lighter the jig you can use.  The heavier the cover, the heavier the jig you need to use. The 4” Gulp! Alive minnow is the ultimate soft bait for this tactic.  It’s big and fairly bulky.  It puts out a great profile for fish to find in heavy cover.  Match the color of the Gulp! Alive minnow to the forage in your system.  For an ever larger profile, use the 5 inch PowerBait Saltwater Jerk Shad.

Fenwick® HMG® Spinning Rod

Berkley® FireLine Crystal™

Berkley® Trilene XT®

NEW Berkley® Gulp!® Alive!™ 4″ Minnow 16 oz.-Pint Bucket

Berkley® 5″ Powerbait Saltwater Jerk Shad