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Examiner
  • Kenneth Kieser: Snap jigging early summer walleye

  • Note: This will be the third story I have run on walleye techniques in recent weeks. Most walleye in this area are caught by accident. These are tips to cash in on the incredible walleye population throughout Missouri and Kansas.

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  • Note: This will be the third story I have run on walleye techniques in recent weeks. Most walleye in this area are caught by accident. These are tips to cash in on the incredible walleye population throughout Missouri and Kansas.
    Snap jigging for walleye is a key technique in late spring or early summer – if you want to catch limits of big walleyes right now.
    The jig slips into a world of minnows, then rises and drifts, pops and slides. Clearly different, somehow the same, it looks right at home but stands out. It's getting away, and now it's not.
    “Snap jigging means different things to different people,” says Jeff Sundin, walleye guide with the Early Bird Fishing Guide Service in Deer River, Minn. “Some call it snap jigging, others rip jigging or hopping, popping – it's never exactly all the same. Put 12 snap jiggers in the room and you'll get 12 different versions.”
    Snap jigging is the art of “popping” a jig to rapidly dart up, then slowly descend back toward the bottom. Fast, escaping baitfish action draws walleye attention because an easy meal is getting away, and fish often strike on the drop, especially when the prey seems wounded.
    Usually the physical movement is a quick wrist flick like snapping a yo-yo back up to your hand, but with plenty of intensity, depending on various factors including how aggressively the fish are biting. During the early season, Sundin likes a softer, shorter snap that doesn't pull the bait too far from the fish.
    Sundin plies his version of snap jigging when walleyes are shallow. Classic snap jigging requires heavy equipment, moving quickly and quickly covering lots of water. Sundin, isn't aggressive as some guys during the early season. He uses a 6 1/2-foot, medium-light power spinning rod and 4- to 6-pound line while trying to keep the boat below 1 mph. He also restrains his actual jigging, moving the jig only 5 to 6 inches at a time.
    Sundin pitches the jig a “comfortable, short distance” when walleyes are in 5 feet of water or less. As the jig sinks, he starts with the rod tip pointing up at 11 o'clock. As it touches bottom, he drops the rod tip to create slack then snaps it back up.
    “I stop soon as I feel the jig's weight,” he said. “I'm only popping it 5 to 6 inches off bottom then letting it drift on a semi-tight line with the boat moving slowly. Then, I drop the tip, push slack into the line, and snap it again. When we're fishing sand flats, dragging bottom rarely triggers a strike. The guy who gets snagged up the most is the guy catching the fewest fish. The jig may hit bottom, but there's no requirement to hit bottom. We're trying to snap it while it's hovering just off bottom.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Early walleyes are shallow walleyes. Until surface temperatures hit the mid 60s, walleyes will be where the bait is. After a long, hard winter, baitfish want to be in the warmest available water, close to the bank. Add baitfish spawns and there's another reason for shallow walleyes.
    “Shiners or shad spawn in spring and they go right up into 2 feet of water,” Sundin said. “When walleyes key on baitfish in lakes with big, shallow flats, they move up into water less than 4 feet deep. They're so shallow you can actually see them.”
    Jig weight is based on where the fish are. At the earliest stages of summer, Sundin is still using 1/8-ounce jigs. He starts out in spring with a 1/16-ounce Lindy Jig tipped with a shiner, rainbow or fathead – in that order of preference. When the water hits the mid-60s and perch are spawning in depths of 4 to 6 feet, he moves up to a 1/8-ounce jig.
    “That's the weight we snap jig with at least 65 percent of the time,” he said. “But when walleyes move out to depths of 10 to 12 feet a little later, we use quarter-ounce heads. If it's windy, we might go as heavy as three-eighths of an ounce. At 12 feet you need lighter line to rifle casts farther from the boat so it swings back into that close, comfortable range best for controlling the jig. We keep tipping with minnows, bringing the hook out in the center of the skull. When rigged perfectly, the mouth of the minnow is against the round ball of the jig.”
    Sundin finds walleyes doubling back into the shallows a lot in summer, especially shallow rocks in 4 to 7 feet of water. on wind-swept lakes with a lot of sand, grass and few taller weedlines, When this occurs, he throws a Watsit Jig minus the bait.
    Snap jigging is effective any time walleyes are in relatively shallow water regardless of the time of year. Most of the time the only reason the fish are in less than 8 feet of water is because of forage supplies, so they're susceptible to a jig popped up right in front of their faces.
     
     
     

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