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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigs
Prime time walleyes 
By Rick Olsen

Walleyes don’t always act the way they should, or at least the way they’re supposed to, and it’s a characteristic that makes them a real challenge.   It’s the challenge that makes up a good part of their mystique and why the sport is so interesting.  However interesting  isn’t that much fun if you can’t put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  During the course of a season there are times when the pieces become a lot easier to place and things happen they way they should, and for those who stick with it, that time is fast approaching. 

If walleyes behaved by the book they would always show up on some deep fast breaking hard bottom areas covered with rock or gravel, and finding them would be a cinch.  However for much of the open water season it just doesn’t happen that way, and locating walleyes is far from being a cinch. Instead of locating near some classic hangout, they’re often found living large in shallow mud bottom bays, or clinging tight to a weedline, or even suspended out in the 
middle of nowhere.  None of it really fits into the “classic” category but it doesn’t matter, because said areas often hold the lion’s share of fish.

Rick Olsen with a nice pair of fall walleyes

The author Rick Olsen with a nice pair 
of fall Walleye

The fall period is one of the few times when ol’ marble eyes acts the way he’s supposed  to, and why the last of the late season is favored by serious walleye anglers.  Now is the time when schools of walleyes bunch up and take residence on fast breaks and deeper rock and gravel humps, and is exactly “by the book”.Finding likely looking areas starts with a good map (as good as you can find), and taking a little time to  analyze potential hot spots.  Look for structure near deep water, and then try to surmise where walleyes would likely spend their daytime hours and where they might make a late evening and after dark feeding run. Daytime hot spots would include fast breaks and quick drops offs near the deepest 
water available in close proximity to larger hard bottom points and flats in shallower water, which would offer the lowlight feeding opportunities.  
The larger the structure the better your chances are for finding good numbers of catchable walleyes.
Ray Marine RAY Chart 520

Raychart 520

When walleyes locate on said areas they become very easy to find with good electronics, and is a time when a high quality graph like the Raychart 520 becomes worth 
it’s weight in gold.  The 520 provides incredible detail and allows the user to see fish that are holding tight to the bottom, which is a common late season occurrence.  By scanning a potential hangout you can quickly see if anybody’s home, and whether it’s worth investing any more of your valuable time.The Raychart 520 serves as a navigational devise as well and has a built in Global Positioning System with W.A.S.S capabilities, which is the most accurate system available to today’s angler.  It’s also been built with a C-Map reader, which allows you to incorporate a highly detailed map into your display and lets you see exactly where you are in relation to the structure you happen to be fishing 
Once you’ve located at least a few fish on your graph the fun begins, and there’s no better way to get it started than with a big jig and minnow.  If the area you happen to be working is deeper than fifteen feet or so, you can probably get right on top of them and fish vertically, or directly below the bottom.  It’s a technique that can be absolutely deadly, and is unbelievably simple. 
MinnKota Maxxum 101 bow mount trolling moto4r

Minn Kota Maxxum 101

By positioning the boat with an electric trolling motor like the Minn Kota Maxxum, you can hover over the fish and keep your bait right in their face.  The Maxxum 101 produces an incredible 101 pounds of thrust which will help you to stay put, even when 
Mother Nature decides to whip things up. A top technique includes using a 3/8 to ½ oz jig tipped with a minnow and simply lifting and dropping the bait as you walk it along the bottom.  If you’re marking a concentration be sure to give the area plenty of time before moving on.  Fish can turn on and off at the 
drop of a hat and you don’t want to miss all the fun  when they decide to crank it up a couple of notches.  
If you’ve given a spot plenty of time, you may want to mark it with your G.P.S. so you can return later and quickly get back on it to see if your intended has 
had a change in attitude. A great combination for vertically jigging would include a six to six and a half foot spinning rod like the Rapala SE80SP66ML1, combined with an open face reel loaded with either six or  eight pound test Rapala Finesse fishing line.   In most cases when yourvertical jigging you’ll be able to fight your fish in open water, allowing you to get away with using lighter line.   Lighter line will also make it easier for you to stay in contact with the  bottom by providing less resistance, and is especially noticeable in deeper water.

The whole program is simple in nature, and simple is good.  Take a known walleye lake, throw in a handful of jigs in a few different sizes and colors, and add a bucket of lively minnows and your in business. 

Rick Olson

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