Spring will be here soon!! My favorite time to get after some cold fillets. Some of the fastest and hands on fishing occurs this time of year by ways of "jigging." Jigging Lake Erie is different than a lot of traditional lakes around the country. The techniques are unique to this lake in a number of different reasons. First lets talk about the spawn.
Walleye are pretty predictable as far as what they are going to do. The whole cycle is pretty predictable come to think about it. Catching in the other months of the year are not. So I will start with the spawn itself. Once the ice is out people start trying their luck jigging. Walleye are in the western basin in the millions, okay i don't know if its that many but it seems like it. Once the water reaches in the 40 degree mark the fish become activated so to speak. The males are ready and willing but the females on the other hand are waiting for the perfect time. That's why the spawn will usually last from about the last week in March to the end of April. The walleye are typically not feeding in this time period they are just pissed that something is in their spawning grounds. So when they bite a jig or blade bait they are just trying to get it away. After the spawn the females and males for that matter put the feed bags on. This is the time to start casting and trolling. The eyes will make a slow but steady move east to cooler waters for the summer and slowly return to the western basin in the fall and winter to do it all over again.
A few different methods are used in the spring. Trolling for the big females is a big part of it but i will save that info for a different post. Jigging blade baits and hair jigs is the most common methods. Blade baits are dropped over the side of the boat all the way to the bottom and ripped up about a foot or two. Most fish will be felt on the rip up and the fight is on. No need to set the hook because in all reality you just did by ripping it up. Blade baits come in many different colors and few sizes. My personal favorite is a Captain Jays white knight.
Hair jigs are the other popular method. Cast the hair jig out allowing it to hit bottom and a slow bouncing technique feeling the bottom on the retrieve in. Once the fish hits, set the hook and the fight is on. Hair jigs along with the blades come in a variety of colors but its hard to beat a purple or john deere green. Some folks tip these with minnows. I however do not but a stinger hook is a must in my books. Hair jigs also come in a few sizes as well. Size will depend on how fast or slow your drift is.
Boat control is a must, you want to be going with the waves but sideways. Drift socks are an option to slow the boat down to your desired speed and with the blade baits you want to stay as vertical as possible and not so much with the hair jigs. Having two nets in the boat isn't a bad idea as well.
I hope this helps some folks. Remember i'm only a phone call or text away if anyone needs help. 419.490.4229. Next blog we will talk crank bait trolling so stay tuned!!