It’s summertime, and across the walleye belt, common theory is that the best bite for walleyes is over until water temps start cooling down in fall. Classic rigging and jigging patterns that worked so well in May and June simply don’t seem to produce as consistently during the heat of July and August.
For Travis Peterson of Bemidji, Minnesota, that presented something of a problem. Travis, like some schoolteachers in northern Minnesota, spends much of his summer guiding on area lakes. While he is a multispecies guide, many of his clients want walleyes. Understandably, many of them vacation during July and August when the weather is nicest in the North Country. To top it off, his clientele are often beginning or average anglers who aren’t accomplished at walleye finesse tactics like livebait rigging and jigging. So Travis needed a simple technique that would allow his clients to catch walleyes during the dog days of summer.
Enter the jig spinner. While certainly not new, most who fish for weed walleyes don’t even have one in their tackle boxes, and fewer still count on them to catch walleyes.
Essentially, a jig spinner is a small spinnerbait built with walleyes in mind. A safety-pin-style arm with a spinner blade attaches onto the eye of a jighead, and the resulting lure is often rigged with a plastic tail. Simplicity in action.
Peterson prefers a couple of different styles. The first is a Northland Rainbow Jig Spinner with a #3 Colorado blade in either silver or brass. This is attached to a 1/4-ounce roundhead jig dressed with a 3- or 4-inch twister tail. Favorite color? “I like white best, but yellow and chartreuse can also be productive.” His second is a Northland Tackle Mimic Minnow Spin, once again in 1/4-ounce in silver, gold, or perch patterns. While both work well, Peterson believes the Mimic Minnow Spin presents a more realistic imitation of a baitfish. The Mimic Minnow Spin’s tail also produces a distinct thump, which causes the entire bait to vibrate similar to a lipless crankbait. This vibration induces walleyes to strike the bait.
Peterson has his best luck with this setup during the hottest days of summer. “When the first hot humid days of July arrive, many walleyes in classic North Country lakes move to weedbeds.” Specifically, the largest, thickest beds of green cabbage weeds are usually most productive. Generally, the larger the spot, the more walleyes it holds. The most productive depth is usually somewhere between 4 and 8 feet of water.
As baitfish move into the thick, lush green cabbage weeds, walleyes usually aren’t far behind. They continue to use these weedbeds until sometime in August when the weather begins cooling. As the water temperature slowly cools, weeds begin to slowly lose their green coloration, indicating that walleyes may move deeper in preparation for establishing standard fall patterns.
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