With the spring air moving to the Midwest, hundreds flock to the rivers to chase the elusive walleyes that call the rivers home. Here in southwest Wisconsin, the Mississippi River is our battlefield. With water temps nearing 40 degrees, the action is fast heating up on pool 11 near Dubuque, IA. Fishing in the area for the last few years, many interesting techniques for catching walleyes have been instilled upon me, however, the most “absurd” method, in my opinion, is fishing with “one-eye” jigs.
How can a simple ½ to 1oz piece of lead, dressed up with a little paint, and a hook at each end possible attract fish, let alone catch them? I was never a strong believer in the technique of snap jigging these ridiculous lures until very recently. When I had landed a solid 5 pound Mississippi River walleye, hooked in the mouth, I was hooked as well.
These lures would be classified as a jigging spoon, technically, however, most often are cast into heavy currents, and with a snap jigging type retrieve, ripped off of the bottom, and let fall slowly back down, triggering strikes. The construction of these lures is very simple: a thin, diamond shaped piece of lead poured over a wire form with a loop at each end for hook attachment points.
Most often, I purchase my “one-eye” jigs at a local gas station, where the sizes range from ¼ to 1oz lures, in multiple different color patterns. The first thing I do with any “one eye” style of jig is replace the hooks. For whichever reason, the stock hooks just don’t last very long in the rocky torrent known as the Mississippi River, so I replace all of my hooks with size 4-6 red Eagle Claw, Lazer Sharp treble hooks. The red hooks are great for their fish attraction properties, and these hooks hold up the best fishing in these tough conditions.
It can be quite a challenge to pick and choose the right colors from the myriad of choices at the bait shop, but don’t be intimidated! Good choices for this style of jig are greens, purples, blacks, and natural bait fish patterns. More important than the color, is the location at which you are going to fish. This time of year, look for slack water on the edge of faster moving currents. This provides the fish with a resting place, as well as an ambush point for feeding. Breaking down water to target these fish is easy using Fishidy. Whether or not you are shore fishing or using a boat, the maps provide anglers with the most current information on the water way they are fishing. Using the satellite photo maps, it is easy to locate where the fast water meets the slack. Target areas of 8-15 feet of water during the daytime, and anywhere from 4-8 feet of water during the evening and night time, when the walleyes move in shallow to feed.
Cast the one-eye out into the slower moving water, and let out line until you feel contact with the bottom. Reel up the slack, then with a quick snap of the wrist, rip the jig off the bottom, and using the rod, control the speed of the fall back down. Most of the time, the fish will strike as the jig is falling back to the bottom, so when you feel a bump or a “tick”, set the hook hard, and hold on. The bite is on, so get out and give this local remedy to the walleye fever a shot!