W A L L E Y E   H U N T E R
Fishing Articles by Colin D. Crawford
Fishing the Dog Days of Summer
by Colin D. Crawford
With the dog days of summer upon us the fish have really slowed down. Here are some tips that you can use to produce more fish during this difficult time. Jig modification and the use of a natural bait will produce more and bigger fish.
Jigs account for most of the winning weights on the professional walleye tournament circle. To increase your hookup percentages when fishing with the versatile and productive leadhead jig, try this tactic. With a pair of long-nose pliers gap your jig hook at approximately 10 degrees from the horizontal. Also, offset the hook slightly. In addition to keeping your hooks needle sharp, the physics of this slight modification will help stick the tip of the hook and increase your catch.
Many fisherman know that willow cats, mud minnows, mad toms are names given to a minnow that looks like a small bullhead or catfish. At this time of year these minnows are deadly on largemouth bass and walleyes. They are my favorite warm weather minnow for walleyes. Northerns and muskie love them also. Willow cats are tough! They stay on the hook and remain alive longer than any chub. A three inch willow cat tipped on a 1/16 ounce Northland weedless jig worked through the weeds is tough to beat on certain lakes. A willow cat will survive all day in a minnow bucket in 90 degree weather with no special handling. Try this with your favorite minnow and they will be dead within the hour.
Use this jig modification and the willow cats and you will produce more and bigger fish when the weather is warm and the fish are lethargic.
One reason that I like to use jigs while fishing for summer walleyes in a river system is the control an angler has. Vertically jigging for walleyes gets my blood pumping. With the proper head design and weight, jigs are the most versatile of all river techniques, from the shallowest flooded cover to the deepest, fastest current. The majority of river fishing with jigs involves either slipping the current or drift fishing the current breaks. The presentation is a simple lift-drop-pause method of jigging, raising the jig some 3 to 6 " as you slip downstream. The jigs that I prefer to use are Northland Fireball jigs because of the rounded head. The rounded head allows the jig to bump along the bottom and not get hung up in snags or brush. If you are as vertical as possible the jig will stand up allowing the hook to be exposed away from the floor of the river. When you tip the jig with a fathead minnow the minnow stands up and looks like it is trying to pick up the jig. As the minnow struggles against the weight of the jig it sends out wounded signals and the natural scent attracts the walleyes and allows them to hang on just that much longer. If the walleyes seem to be just biting the tails off the minnows the Fireball offers an additional eye so you can easily attach a stinger hook. The stinger hook is a great addition in cold waters of fall and spring.
Colors of the jigs should be bright in dingy water. Colors such as fluorescent orange, chartreuse and my all time favorite gold are great for fishing those fall walleyes. Anytime that you can bring attention to your bait it will help you up your odds for catching those fall walleyes.
Weights may range from 1/8 to 1/2 ounces, but usually stay with the weight that is the lightest so you have contact with the bottom. River walleyes have a tendency not to suspend as much as the walleyes in the lake and you donít have to worry about missing a strike zone that is in the fish column. I will tip my jig with some plastic if I want to slow down the rate of fall, but current usually fights gravity faster and defeats the purpose of vertical jigging.
Slack water fish can also be found by pitching jigs of 1/16 to 1/8 ounce to shoreline or cover like flooded wood or boulders. The angler in this situation should use a lift drop retrieve to slip or quarter the jig downstream as it is retrieved back to the boat. This is a super tactic for fishing eddies, wing dams or shallow mid river shoals.
This summer when the weather heats up and you donít think the fish are biting head out for your nearest lake or river and take along a handful of jigs as well as some willow cats and enjoy those warm days and allow the dogs to lie in the shade and stay cool.
If you have a chance and would like to learn more about fishing walleyes
look me up in the Phelps, WI area. If I am not at home I will be on the
water and you will know it is me because I have the NPAA # 94 on my
boat. For more information contact me at 715-545-8347
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