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Plastics for Spring River Walleyes

By Dale Helgeson - March 1, 2005

As you get you boat in the cold spring river water you feel the cold crisp air rush up your blood stream to your heart as it starts racing faster with the anticipation of landing a big walleye.

Spring time is undoubtedly on of the best time of the year to land a trophy walleye. Many trophy walleyes have been taken using the standard lead head jig tipped with a minnow or a three way rig with a floating jig head and minnow. Some people will even troll them in the spring using lead core line. But one way that is sometimes over looked is a jig and plastics.

The Jig
There are many styles of jigs and picking the right one for the right situation can be difficult. One jig that seems to work in almost every situation is a Nuckleball jig by FinTech Tackle Company. These jigs offer a great versatility for almost any type of jigging you want to try especially with plastics. They can be rigged straight, weed less, live bait, or in a combination of plastic and live bait.

They have a unique design in that you can drag them on the bottom and they will keep your hook upright off the bottom or when jigged off the bottom the hang horizontal at all times. They also have a wide hook gap for more hookups. Being that the jig is in a round shape they can also be used for rolling jigs in shallow current.

When preparing to use a jig you should consider the structure you will be fishing.

Wing Dams
In Spring one of the best structures to fish is a wing dam. Anchor a few yards above the wing dam and let the current drift the jig and plastic into the strike zone right behind the wing dam in the slack current. Most fish up high in a wing dam will be aggressive feeding fish. The fish on the bottom side of the wing dam may be starting to get hungry and if bait is put in front of them will usually take it.

When fishing a wing dam jig setup consist of a jig small enough to sink in the current yet small enough to let the current move it downstream slowly. This will be dependant upon the current of the river. Usually a 3/8 is as high as needed for weight in this situation. Usually a 1/16 to ¼ will work best. Then tip them with our favorite plastics.

When fishing dams use your electric motor to vertical jig down the river, a good electric motor like MinnKota's Maxxum or Powerdrive are great bow mount options for vertical jig fishing.

Work the high sides of the breaks in the morning and evening and the deeper sides during mid day. Try to work areas that have some slack water as they will stack up in theses areas waiting for food to come to them.

One highly overlooked place to find spring walleyes are in flooded timber or downed trees.

The preferred technique for fishing this situation is using a Nuckleball jig rigged weed less. This is a accomplished by rigging the plastic by hooking the end of the bait about ¼ inch from the end and piercing it all the way through and then poking the barb back through about an 1 ½ inches down and placing the barb back into the plastic.

Then just pitch the jig near the timber and jig it back toward the boat. Try to find timber bear deeper water and out of the fast current.

Rock piles are another good place to find feeding walleyes. Vertical jig these areas. Staying vertical is very important when jigging. A good line with low stretch can be important for feeling bottom and sensing strikes. PowerPro is one of my first choices along with fluorocarbon.

Most of the fish on the rocks will be tight to the bottom so stay close to the bottom also feeling the bottom is critical.

Shallow Sand Flats
Shallow sand flats are often times over looked by most anglers except for experienced trophy hunters. This may be one of the best ways to take trophy walleyes.

Usually a smaller jig is used and rigged with a ring worm. The sand flats to look for are usually on inside bends close to deep water channels. The large females will come up onto theses flats to feed and to often times spawn. They are out of the primary current but offer some current for them to feed in. They will look for a meal to come floating or tumbling down.

When fishing this area try to lighten your jigs because you will need them to tumble or roll down the flat. Usually just lifting the jig off the bottom 6 inches to 2-3 feet and letting the jig settle back down rolling on the bottom will work best. Once the jig stops make sure to pay attention in case a walleye picked it up. If no fish is present then lift it again letting it drift and tumble down farther. Plastics
There are many plastics that can be used for jigging. Use a quality plastic like B-Fish-N Tackles baits. They offer quality soft plastics in all the shapes needed to produce most fish. One of the best options is the Ring Worm. Other good plastic baits are Paddle tails, Super Doos, and K-Grubs

Ring Worms are the most popular especially for wing dams and pitching and rolling the shallow sand flats, but don't be afraid to try different styles. Also putting a scent will increase your strikes as well. Us a quality scent like Kick'n Walleye from the Kick'n Bass Company. It has a very strong smell which is a necessity for river fishing.

Remember to take a kid fishing and be safe as the rivers can be extremely dangerous.

Author Dale Helgeson
Dale Helgeson
Dale Helgeson is owner and operator of The Outdoor Experience Guide Service focusing on lakes in southeastern Wisconsin. Dale is a professional fisherman fishings the MWC walleye fishing circuits as well as writing articles for Lake-Link and Southeast Wisconsin Outdoor Guide among others. Dale is sponsored by these fine sponsors: Geneva Cabinet Company, Action Marine, DR Plastics, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Black Mountain Socks, RAM Mounts, Frabill, Pflueger Rods and Reels, Dave’s Kaboom Lures,, Kick’n Walleye Scents, Minn Kota, Strikemaster Augers, Mapping Specialists, Vexilar, Guest Pro Chargers, PowerPro Lines, KINeSYS Sunscreen, NPAA 872. His Pro Staffs include: Daiichi Hooks, XTools, FinTech Tackle Company, Off Shore Tackle, Navionics, Jammin Jigs/Bad Dog Lures
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