Jig Like A Pro

By Dave Duwe - April 1, 2007
Let's get jiggy with it!! Springtime has finally come. Now is the time to get the boat out and catch the spawning river walleyes. Jig fishing has always been my favorite presentation and the most effective.

Last spring I was invited to go jig fishing with Team Skeeter/Yamaha Pro Brad Davis of Jackson, WI. The April day was cold with strong east winds. We were fishing in Oshkosh, WI on the Fox River. The Fox River is part of the Lake Winnebago system, which is full of hungry walleyes of varying size. With such an abundant population there is no size limit.

On this trip, we were targeting the post-spawn fish returning from their spawning marshes far to the north in New London and other shallow marshes on their way back to Lake Winnebago. We were keying on the main river channel in 15-17 ft of water. The current was moving pretty good that day and we had to use ΒΌ oz and 3/8 oz jigs. We used a combination of Arkie jigs and Matzuo jigs. The best color was chartreuse. The fish were biting so light a stinger hook was a necessity. A stinger hook is a small treble hook on monofilament attached to the jig. Davis prefers not hooking the minnow with the stinger hook and lets it swim free. He reasons, "by not attaching the stinger hook, the minnow will have more natural action." But if the water your fishing has the potential for lots of snags, be ready to tie on some jigs.

The jigs were tipped with large fathead minnows or Milwaukee shiners. To prevent line twist Brad attaches a small snap swivel to his line, which also make interchanging jigs much easier. Both of us were using two poles at the same time. To ease arm and shoulder strain Brad uses pistol grip casting poles, 6' medium/heavy teamed with Abu Garcia 5500 spooled with 6lb fireline. With the shorter poles and baitcasting reels it made fishing two jigs quite easy. I have always been a 6'6" spinning rod and reel fan with 6-8 lb monofilament. With this I was getting snagged a lot more and would lose bottom contact which meant I was out of the fish zone. The fish would hit on the drop, you could barely tell until you lifted up on the pole to make another jigging motion. The fish preferred a slow and methodical presentation. We had to only lift the jig 3-4 inches off bottom.

We kept the bow of the boat pointed into the current and slowly drifted with the current. We had to keep the trolling motor on constant power to maintain the perfect drift. By employing the trolling motor it eliminated much of the speed of the current.

We keyed on the river channels away from all the heavy boat traffic. Davis explained, " All those anchors and congestion can make the fish spooky." As spring goes along the fish will stop keying on minnows and switch to leeches and half nightcrawlers, the head half having the most scent. This day we had some success on small males which Brad explained never went to spawn.

The deal with spring walleye runs is timing and we were too late for the "run" up and to early for the return trip down. If you go often the percentages will be with you timing the bite right a couple of times. This trip out only provided us 7 walleyes approximately 12-15 inches long, many white bass and loads of the freshwater drums "sheepheads."

This April give the Fox River in Oshkosh a try, it is really an awesome fishery. I will be the guy in the white Alumacraft jigging like a mad man.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .