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by Dan Vinovich

It was one of those mornings we all dream about, cool air, a light breeze, and not a boat in sight.  I was working a flat with a crawler harness, slowly slipping shallow to deep.  Shad were busting the surface all around the boat.  Back and forth I worked, careful not to miss any areas a hungry walleye might be waiting in ambush.  One hour later, I had nothing to show for all of my effort except a few yellow bass and one lost crawler harness I donated to a hungry muskie.  I reeled in my rods, poured a hot cup of coffee, and sat back to enjoy the morning.  I thought to myself, “No fish,  who cares.”  “This sunrise is too good to pass up.” 

Just as the sun started peeking over the trees, I heard the faint sound of a small outboard in the distance.  Within a few minutes, I caught a glimpse of an older gentleman heading my way.  As he approached, I could see a couple of old rods tied up with some of the largest jigs I think I have ever seen.  He slowed down off the port side and offered me a greeting.  “Beautiful morning, huh?” he said.  “The only thing missing is a few hungry walleyes.” I said.  He replied, “I got my limit the last three days here.”  “Not today.”  “I think you must have caught them all,” I replied.  “I think I will give it a try anyway,” he said.  “Good luck,” I replied.  I thought to myself, who are you kidding old man, as he putted to the far end of the flat. 

Rather than taking the time to retie and try something different, I opted to pour another cup of joe and just sit back and enjoy the sunrise.  Not five minutes had passed when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the old boy scrambling for his net.  I could not tell what kind of fish it was.  However, I did notice it had to be a good one by the way he hoisted it over the gun wail.  He then dropped the fish in the live well and continued fishing.  Within a few minutes, he repeated with another fish.  This one I knew was a walleye because he caught it a few yards off the bow of my Targa.  Now it was time to pay attention and watch what he was doing.  He was working the same flat in the same fashion as I had been.  I did notice he was working a lot faster than I had been.  Suddenly, he set the hook yet another time.  That hook set yielded another big walleye.  I could not take it anymore.   I fired up my trolling motor and moved in for a closer look.  As I moved within a few yards of him, he said, “I thought you said there were no fish on this flat.”  I told him that I had been pulling crawler harnesses with not so much as a hit.  I then asked him what he was using.  He lifted his bait from the water for me to see. 
It was a simple rig, a 1 to 11/2 oz. jig tipped with a shad body.  I then asked him what type of  live bait he was tipping it with, and he replied, “nothing but that shad body.”  I shook my head in disbelief as he told me that is all he ever uses.  He then demonstrated his technique.  He lowered the bait until it hit bottom, locked his reel bail, and began snapping his rod tip up about 12 inches and then letting the jig free fall back to the bottom.  He said, “Most of the hits came on the fall and that the fish were hooked on the follow-up snap.”  Well this technique seemed too good to be true, so I had to try it for myself.  I thanked him for the information as he pulled away and resumed fishing. 

Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Minnow and Riverside Shad I quickly fumbled through my tackle and found a handful of 1 oz. jigs and a couple of the new Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Eye minnow bodies they had sent out to the Pro Staff to field test.  Now was as good time as any to take them for a test run. 
I pulled out my spinning reel loaded with 6 lb. test line and tied one on.  Over the next hour, I boated seven fish all over 18 inches.  I was having so much fun that I never got to talk to the older gentleman before he left.  I am sure he had taken his limit for the fourth day in a row.  So if he happens to read this article, I just want to say thanks for teaching me one of the most deadly jigging techniques for stubborn walleyes I have ever used. 

For guided trips on walleye, sauger, stripers, or smallmouth, you can call me at 309-347-1728, or reach me by e-mail at trolling@mtco.com


E-mail Dan at trolling@mtco.com

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