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Winter jig techniques producing walleyes right now

By Gary Korsgaden / For the Enterprise

Days are measured in the open water season. Water temperatures dropping into the lower forties signaling freeze up is near - and one of the shortest open water seasons in history.

Post-turnover and cooling shallow water temperatures force walleyes out onto the deeper still green coon tail and cabbage weed edges and the deeper bases of drop-offs.

Depths of 28’ to 50’ are not uncommon for walleyes to inhabit right now. Inside turns of points where connected to shorelines are good places to start. Perch congregate on these inside turns and are easy prey for all game fish, including walleyes.

The few anglers fishing right now are finding walleyes cooperating by using deep water tactics. A favorite is deep jigging a lead head jig tipped with a minnow. It’s simple but one of the most effective methods to entice otherwise nonbiting walleyes. Success first depends on keeping the jig as vertical as possible while slowly drifting or back trolling.

Jigs that fish “heavy” 3/8 to 1/2 ounce short shank hook jigs are my choices with a wide side look profile and a narrow head width, a jig head that will cut through the water and drop quickly.

Tipping it with a live rainbow minnow is a must. Attach the minnow with the hook threaded through the mouth and out through the top of the head. Colors of the jig head come down to the colors you have the most confidence in. My choices are green and chartreuse; sometimes white and blue.

Rod choices for deep jigging, any spinning or spin-cast rod and reel will work. However, my choice is a 6’3” or 6’8” spinning rod medium power extra fast action. The reel should be loaded with a good quality 6# clear monofilament line, tied direct to the top of the jig eye tightly.

Play out line until the jig hits bottom. Reel up enough line so the jig rides a foot or so above the bottom. Concentrate on keeping the jig at this level as you work deeper and shallower. Check in from time to time by dropping the rod tip until you see slack line indicating the jig is on the bottom.

Slowly move along and raise the jig by holding the rod tip high and twitch the rod tip at the high point and return the jig back to a foot or so above the bottom and hold it there as you continue to troll or drift.

Pay close attention as the bite will feel only as a slight weight, set the hook immediately.

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