June 01, 2012
By Matt Straw
Mary had the touch last night. With water temperatures around 65°F, walleyes were sliding into depths of 6 feet on the rocky shoreline we chose to fish. (We have to choose those shorelines very well. Mary doesn't get out of work until 5 pm, so we're limited to lakes within 20 miles if we want to get much fishing in before dark.)
Sometimes it's a 5-inch Kalin's Grub. Other times it's a 4-inch Berkley Power Worm. Could be a 5-inch soft swimbait from Castaic, Berkley, YUM, Density Tackle, Lunker City, B'Fish'N Tackle, or any number of products from a wide range of companies. These are all very different looking baits. Some have paddle tails, others have auger tails. Forked tails, finesse tails — doesn't matter. If it's plastic and 4 to 6 inches long, you should try pitching it for walleyes on an appropriately-sized jig. Mary was using a Kalin's grub on a 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head last night (also her favorite swimming combo for smallmouths — and she caught several specimens from that category last night, too). Walleyes were eating it up. (I kept trying to power jig, Tony, but the water temperature had dropped 3 degrees from 68°F a few days ago and they wanted things on the swim. Period.)
Swimming is so easy nobody will believe it works. Takes hours, sometimes, to get visitors on my boat to stop "jigging." We use 7-foot, medium-light rods from G. Loomis and St. Croix, and Pflueger Patriarch or Shimano Symetre reels spooled with 5- to 8-pound Maxima Ultragreen mono, depending on how heavy the jig is (we often go up to 1/4 ounce or even heavier in wind or deeper water). Lately I've been using a lot of Northland Impulse Paddle Tail Minnows on 1/8-ounce Slurp Rig Jigs. Cast, let the bait drop to bottom (or count it down and engage just before it hits), point the rod tip down, and slowly reel it back to the boat. If you're dragging on bottom the presentation is too slow. If it's not touching bottom at all, slow down. That's it.
Last night we boated a couple pike, about 21 bass, quite a few walleyes, and we were either bitten off or simply broke off twice. Without jigging. Without bait. With three hours to fish. Several guys at the landing said they got blanked.
We never see anybody doing this, even on the most populated lakes in the area. All y'all can go on believing it's not that simple. We honestly don't mind.