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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
Bass Ttactics for High Water Spring Walleyes
Gary A. Engberg
It's the beginning of April, that magic time of year for the fisherman who's been waiting all winter to catch those wonderful walleyes.  We've watched all the fishing shows this past winter.  We've read all the magazines and seen all the videos.  We've even gone to numerous outdoor shows and seminars learning all we ran about our favorite species, the walleye.Now, it's time to put everything we've learned to use.  It's spring on Wisconsin's own Wisconsin River and the bordering Mississippi River.  The mild winter caused northern Wisconsin snow cover to melt early, but a late winter/early spring snow dumped snow up north and copious amounts of rain in the southern half of the state.It's time for spring walleye fishing on the Wisconsin River, but in the wink of an eye water levels rose dramatically causing the river to overflow their banks and flood backwaters everywhere.  The river's main channel is roaring with dam gates open up and down the Wisconsin River, making the normal placid river a fisherman's nightmare.  What does a person do to catch walleyes during this high water period?I'll tell you what I do and have been doing to be successful during this difficult period.First, remember that water temperature is in the mid forties (40s), nights have been moderate with low temperatures still in the 40s and 50s, there's been some warm rain, and finally dam gates have been opened allowing fresh water (i.e. baitfish, bugs, other organisms) into a river system that has been stagnate for months.  The water flowing has rejuvenated the whole river system.  But, where do these ready-to-spawn walleyes go during the sudden period of high water?Walleyes will move into shallow flooded timber and brush during these periods.  Instead of thinking like a normal walleye angler does this time of year; light jigs, minnows, light line, and plain hooks I take a page from the bass fisherman.  I switch to 1) a heavier jig, usually 1/4 or 3/8 oz., instead of the normal 1/16 or 1/8 oz. jig. 2) I'm swimming my jig fast enough to just tic bottom occasionally.  Dragging a Jig here would result in constant snags and breakoffs, hense reel fast enough to prevent getting constantly caught.  I also switch from live bait (minnows) to plastic-scented twister tails which stay on your jig better than live bait and seem to attract fish better with its flash and vibration, reel fast enough to get the jig and plastic through the brush and wood.  Occasionally, I lift the jig and lot it fall.  Hits usually come on the fall.  But, the most important thing I de) is to switch from 6 lb.  Stren Magnothin the 10 lb. coffee colored Easy Cast.  The coffee color blends beautifully with the stained water.  The 10 lb. test East Cast allows you to pull out of most of your snags. if I used 6 lb. test line I wouldconstantly be re-tieing and losing jigs, You are going to lose some Jigs and break off on the occasional stump, but you are going to be able to fish and you will catch fish in the wood,in these extreme conditions, I don't think the jig color or tail color makes that much difference.  I constantly change Jigs and tail colors, until I find what the fish want.  The walleyes are in the shallows to get out of the strong current flow, to eat since the baitfish have moved into the brush cover and finally they're looking for a place to drop their eggs.So remember this spring when confronted with high water, go shallow, right up into the wood, trees, and brush; go to a heavier line, preferably 10 lb. test; and use plastic twister tails changing colors until you find the profile these fish want.You can anchor outside these wooded areas, or use a push pole to get back into the timber, or you can wade making short casts right into little pockets and openings.  I guarantee the walleyes will be there, now you have the technique and tactic to get at them.

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