Walleyes relate to shallow water for numerous reasons but the
really nice aspect of fishing shallow is that the key contact
points where we pick up fish are often visual. This is a huge
advantage for anglers fishing shallow water or shoreline orientated
patterns. We can often see the edge of the weed bed. We might
be able to see the boulders barely peaking above the water.
We can sometimes see the change in watercolor. Whether we are
fishing river systems, reservoirs or lakes, shallow patterns
are often something we can visually see. We can see what is
either holding the fish or we can see something that we can
use to aid both our boat and presentation control. When we begin
pitching jigs, we often have something physical that we are
casting to or near.
||Now for the real beauty of pitching jigs into shallow
water. Sweet spots or key contact spots that walleye seem
to use in this shallow water can be scoured. If fish are
holding on the inside edge of a weed bed for example,
you can keep pounding these key points with a jig repeatedly.
Key areas might be a shallow sand flat or perhaps emerging
cattails. Perhaps a shoreline of round rock or a shale
or limestone bluff. The possibilities are endless but
the nice part of figuring out these shallow patterns is
that fish location becomes obvious once you catch a few
fish and the pattern than becomes very easy to duplicate.
I love pitching jigs into shallow water. Besides being effective,
I enjoy catching walleye in this manner. Many anglers often
view jig fishing as something slow or methodical. Yes jigs can
be fished in this manner but for myself, pitching jigs can often
seem aggressive where I am active. I often find myself standing
all day. I am moving a lot and much more active than some other
anglers using the same jig are. Perhaps this increase in activity
is the reason more anglers don’t pitch jigs. I enjoy the
moving and the activity but some anglers don’t.
The key is to be comfortable. Use a comfortable stand up bicycle
style seat that can be adjusted through out the day. Adjust
your foot pedal for your trolling motor and adjust your electronics
so that you are comfortable. Get comfortable, as I cannot stress
this enough. Also helps to be use to standing all day. For anglers
who spend a lot of time on their feet, standing in a boat all
day is second nature. Many walleye anglers however seem to have
a preference for sitting.
Now the fish can’t look up and tell what kind of a rod
and reel you are using but I can assure you that you will notice
the difference if you use a high quality rod for this kind of
fishing. You will notice the difference in the form of fatigue.
Choose a high quality graphite rod because a very good rod is
going to be noticeably lighter and easier to work all day. Use
a rod that is balanced and comfortable to use all day. The best
rod I have ever used for pitching jigs is a Jason Mitchell Elite
Series JMSS66. This six and a half foot rod is lighter than
any other rod I have ever picked up and extremely enjoyable
to fish with. Many seasoned jig fishermen that fish in this
manner seem to prefer either a six and a half or seven foot
rod. The Jason Mitchell Elite Series are available in both six
and a half and seven foot models. More information on these
walleye rod can be found at www.jasonmitchellrods.com.
A high quality graphite rod is more so for fatigue than feeling
the actual bite in some cases. In some cases you will actually
feel the hit and this also depends on the retrieve but often,
we can see the hits and set the hook much quicker. To watch
for these hits, a high visibility line is crucial. I really
like the high visibility green six and eight pound Berkley Sensation.
This line is easy to watch and you will often see the bite before
you can feel anything. The line will just jump or do something
different. High visibility line can really account for many
more fish over the course of a season.
There is a time and place for being lazy and relaxing. This
presentation isn’t one of these time or places. For myself,
I like to be moving. I like to be active and doing something.
This is why pitching jigs fits into my game plan so well. I
enjoy catching walleye in this manner. This increase in activity
on my feet and arms not only feels good, but also is incredibly
effective. The reality is that many anglers are lazy. We see
the same scenario unfold each season. Many fish stay relatively
safe if an angler can’t drift or drive the boat over the
top. For many walleye fishermen, the only way to fish is either
dropping the bait below or behind the boat. This is fine as
many shallow fish get left untouched or spooked. There is no
doubt in my mind that many anglers would catch many more fish
if they took an active and shallow approach by pitching jigs.
One final trend we are seeing across the Midwest concerning
pitching jigs revolves around plastics. There are times when
bait is required. The three most common tipping morsels are
a leech, minnow or half a crawler. The real deal has a smell
and taste trigger that still hasn’t been duplicated with
anything synthetic. That isn’t to say however that fake
baits like Berkley GULP! doesn’t have a very important
place. The bad aspect of using bait is that bait often comes
off and in some severe situations, getting hands wet and cold
can be trouble. GULP! has gotten wildly popular over the past
few years because this is a way anglers can tip a jig without
having to worry about rebaiting and anglers are getting more
confident with this option all the time. Walleyes eat GULP!.
Regardless of water temp or how turned off the fish are. Regardless
of how slow you work the jig, this synthetic tipping option
is always an option. Just also remember that nothing we have
seen so far will ever entirely replace live bait. We like to
use plastics and GULP! when both learning an area and searching
for fish. We also like to use GULP! whenever we are working
the jig aggressively or fishing in weeds. Still, when we have
to slow the gears down and either try and pull a few more reluctant
fish off a spot or trigger fish that are being difficult to
catch, good fresh bait always get the nod.