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Casting some light on shallow Walleyes  By Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz
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Casting Some Light on Shallow Walleyes

 by Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz

      Late spring to early summer can be one of the toughest times of year
to catch walleyes. On many bodies of water the fish are in transition, on
others they’re still in their annual spawning mode. What makes locating
walleyes this time of year even more difficult is that many anglers are
unwilling to break tradition and look in areas not normally thought of as
“walleye water”. So we’d like to shed some light on one of the most
overlooked early season locations for walleyes ... shallow water.

      Shallow water walleyes are not that difficult to find. They will
home-in on very predictable types of structure like rocky shorelines, rocky
points that extend out into a lake, or, especially in natural lakes, hold in
areas of shallow flooded timber.

      Although these can be actively feeding fish, the fact that they are in
extremely shallow depths (2 to 4 foot), and are very spooky calls for a
presentation that allows the angler to put some distance between himself and
his target. Casting jigs is the name of the game.

      To be an effective “jig caster” takes a few key ingredients. Jigs best
suited for casting to shallow walleyes are light ... 1/16th to 1/8th ounce.
It’s important that the jig be compact, with a short shank and wide gap like
Northland Tackle Tackle’s FireBall Jig. Remember, as you retrieve, you’re pulling
the jig away from the fish, and short-shanked jigs with wide hook gaps will
up the odds that the fish will keep the hook in it’s mouth when it sucks it

      In situations where walleyes are relating to wood, a more specialized
jig is called for. This is where a jig like the Northland Tackle Weed Weasel is
helpful. It’s sleek wedge shaped head and plastic “Y” weed guard allow it to
work through the worst tangles of timber.

      The bite of an early season walleye isn’t much of a bite. You also
need to be able to tell if your lure is on the bottom, as well as just what
kind of bottom it’s on, whether that be rocks, sand, pea-gravel or what have
you. A good quality graphite rod like the jig rods found in the Walleye
Angler Signature Series from Bass Pro Shops give you the “feel” to tell what
your jig is doing at all times.

      Another factor that can greatly improve “feel” when casting jigs in
shallow water is your choice of fishing line. Let’s look at what line might
best fit your fishing for these “thin water” fish.

      What kind of line to use? That question has to be one of the most
asked at seminars. Great question. Normally the beginning jig fisherman is
not going to have a $200 dollar, high modulus graphite rod and reel combo.
Assuming that a beginner’s equipment is not going to be very sensitive, we
need to do something to improve their “feel” because the starting jig
fisherman really needs all of the “feel” that they can get.

Berkley Fish wont let go FireLine is by far the best choice because it has no stretch
and therefore is highly sensitive. It’s easier to detect bites, identify the
feeling of a live fish versus a weed, and sense every little thing that your
jig is crawling over as it bumps its way along the bottom.

      Beginners often hesitate as to whether they should set the hook, or
not. FireLine compensates for this hesitation, resulting in more hooked
fish. Another side benefit to the no stretch characteristic is that every
little bit of the battle is felt… no greater thrill for a beginner

      As an angler’s proficiency improves, reflexes are faster and skills
increase in the jigging game. It’s far easier to recognize the difference
between bites and weeds. Only a split second is needed to decide when to set
the hook and at this stage you’ll notice that you’ll actually miss fish
because instantaneous, hard hooksets can tear the jig free.

      Time to switch lines. Trilene SensiThin monofilament is a new mono
with very low stretch making it a stellar jigging line. Most feel is
retained, like with FireLine, however, there is some stretch and jigs are
not pulled out as often. Most fishermen will never need another line,
SensiThin will be perfect.

      If you’re a walleye fisherman with tons of hours on the water, your
skills are honed and reflexes peaked out. Jigs are either your specialty,
you’re a guide, or a tournament pro. Armed with the best jigging rod and
reel money can buy, you’re serving notice to all walleyes that they’d best
find the deepest hole in the lake and cower with fear for their lives while
you’re there.

      Guess what? You’re too good. That rod you’re using feels everything
and you sometimes set the hook too fast, before the fish even has it all! At
this level, if you remain using a no or low stretch line it will cost you
fish. Imagine that $30,000 dollar tournament; a six lb. money fish bites ...
perfect hookset (slight mouth tear because of no stretch and overzealous
attitude), the fish fights hard with big head shakes and tears the jig out
the rest of the way.

      A 12th place plaque later and you’re reminiscing how fabulous it would
have been to throw a party for your first place win and still have thousands
left for that new boat. Enter Berkley Fish wont let go Pro Select Tournament Strength
monofilament. This stuff is tough! Perfect stretch and forgiveness and
guaranteed for prevention of loss of six lb. money fish. We understand that
some of you might be pessimistic so we’ll restate in terms all men will
understand ... Pro Select = Party + Boat. Enough said.

      Don’t get caught this time of year thinking that shallow water is only
for Bassheads and Pikers. With the right approach, the right gear, and a
willingness to cast tradition aside, test the thin water for walleyes and
you too can have a great time casting your cares away.

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