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Category Archives: Northern Fishing

Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

 big pike

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Wawang_pike_lures

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

Wawang pike 46.5

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

Screen shot 2012-01-14 at 23_06_51

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

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These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one ’em.

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SPINNING FOR PIKE

??????????????The #5 Mepps’ steady throb pulsed through the 30-pound Spiderwire, down the length of the medium/heavy-action graphite rod and directly into his hand. Just as the lure reached the edge of the cabbage weeds, the blade’s thrum came to an abrupt halt.   He set the hook hard into what felt like a concrete wall!   But then the wall began to move, and he knew he was into a trophy. Five minutes later and four desperate boatside runs, he lands the 20-pound northern pike.

IT’S SIMPLE:  Big pike LOVE spinners!

Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves.

The Baits
Spinner choices abound, but not all are created equal when it comes to enticing jumbo “scissorbills.” The angler should select certain sizes, shapes, and colors, over others.

szczupak-pospolity-80704Lesson No. 1 in choosing spinners for Esox lucius: bigger always is better. Pick magnum-sized offerings as even hammer-handles attack huge lures with abandon, and to catch true monsters, you MUST have that big profile.

Fat, deeply cupped blades throw out big vibrations that ring the dinner bell for monster pike. While sometimes thinner shaped blades (such as willow-leafs) that spin faster turn the trick; usually the slower-turning Colorado-type blades prove to be the ticket to a pike bonanza.

Because big flash stimulates lunkers, polished silver and gold blades work great. Another killer color combo, especially for use in darker, stained water, is orange blades with a black trailer.

In-Line vs. Offset Spinners
Spinners for northerns come in two basic designs, and both work effectively, but each has its strengths and weaknesses.

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In-line spinners (such as Mepps, Worden’s Lures Rooster Tails, Panther Martin, and Blue Fox’s Vibrax), with their terminal trebles, have higher hook-up and catch rates than their safety-pin brethren, but they also hook vegetation and other underwater structure, too.

But lures such as Terminators and Stanley Jigs’ Rick Clunn 4-Blade Willow Spinnerbaits, with their single, upturned hooks surrounded by manmade skirts, slither through the weeds, logs and stumps. In-lines also cast like bullets, while offsets can catch the wind and lose momentum.

Line, Leaders
Any of the new “super-lines” such as like Berkley FireLine, Spiderwire Fusion, or Remington’s Power-Lokt, are superior to monofilament for spinning pike angling. Their low stretch and high-abrasion resistance benefit pike anglers.

Flout the convention and tie on a snap/swivel instead of a leader. Leaders inhibit action and deter wary trophies, while the snap swivels provide two major benefits: quick lure changes and eliminating/reducing line twist. True, you’ll lose lures to the razor-sharp choppers of aggressive mounters, but you’ll get lots more bites without leaders!

Speed & Delivery
Often northerns will attack even jet-powered offerings, but slowing down, pausing, or herky-jerkying that spinner, especially when it reaches the “Pike Zone,” reaps big rewards. Even lazy fish will smash a spinnerbait dangled in front on their out-sized mouth.

Always cast beyond where you think the pike lurk, because while “scissorbills” are legendary for their aggressiveness, they don’t like being bombed. Landing a bait on top of one’s head will likely result in spooking it.

Spin-Crazy Times & Spots
Primetime for driving pike spin crazy depends upon the season, time of day, and prevailing weather conditions. Early spring, right after ice out, brings spawned out northern pike shoreward (where they’re most vulnerable). Spinner rigs elicit savage strikes from hungry pike during spring.

Because northerns sight-feed, mid-day piking makes sense. Following that logic, clear, blue-sky days with lots of sun create perfect pike angling weather.

spinner-bait-diagramThe spinner’s flash and large profile, easily visible to cruising whoppers, prove irresistible.

Look for incoming streams or rivers, and concentrate your efforts just off the edges of weedy drop-offs. Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy, as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves. Position the boat on the deep side of the drop-off, and cast the spinner up onto the flat itself, cranking just fast enough to keep the lure above the weeds, and pause when you get to the weed edge. Allow the bait to drift down and find the waiting lunkers, and hang on!

Using spinners to drive northern pike stir crazy is fun, easy, and productive.

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WHERE TO FIND BIG NORTHERN PIKE

41.5" northern pike

41.5″ northern pike

Top predators aren’t pushovers and being at the top of the food chain they can muscle their way into the prime real estate on any water system. Northern   pike, especially big ones, inhabit the structures on a water system that best meets a variety of criteria, including access to food, shelter, ambushing   opportunities, water temperature, and oxygen levels.

Three prime areas that often meet these criteria for large northern after they’ve spawned in the shallows are points, humps and saddles. Here’s examples of these customary pike structures.

Points

Points are a piece of structure   that juts out into deep water off of shore or an island. They range in shapes   and sizes but ultimately points extend into and are surrounded by deeper   water. The variation they provide compared to the uniform surrounding   shoreline and underwater contours, along with fast access to deep water, make   them attractive to pike.

Northern   move on points to feed, whether on walleye, perch, bass, or any other species   they can get their mouths on. Wind-blown points attract big pike as the   turmoil created by waves often stimulates feeding activity hump1as prey become   disoriented. Pike are active all day, but morning and evening are   particularly good times to try points. When choosing points consider that the   larger the structure the more fish it’s likely to hold.

Humps

A hump is an uprising in the bottom depth with a considerable area. They’re   also often referred to as bars or sunken islands. The same fish-attraction   structural qualities of points also make humps a common place to find   northern.  Mid-lake humps are particularly productive for trophy pike during summer and autumn. On large, deep lakes northern often inhabit cool, deep water where they’ll follow and   feed on schools of whitefish and lake herring.

Humps   often attract deep-water pike as both resting and foraging areas. Shallow humps that peak around 10′ to 15′ often have weed growth, which will   attract all sizes of pike. Deeper, rocky humps that top out around 20′ to 35′ appeal to big, deep-water fish.

saddleSaddles   A saddle is best described as follows: Picture yourself holding a rubber band in two hands so it’s straight. Move your hands together and the band drops —   there’s your saddle. Your thumbs and forefingers represent either humps or islands, which could vary in size and shape, and the bends in the band are   the sloping, connected points that join these two land masses. Sometimes these slopes are relatively uniform, as in the rubber band example, while in   other instances one side may extend farther or drop faster than the other.

In addition to the reasons listed above for points and humps, there are a few   other benefits to saddles. The first is they tend to be fairly sizeable structures giving them the potential to hold multiple big fish. Add to this the fact that saddles contain a variety of different depths plus plenty of   physical features all wrapped up in one interconnected formation, and it’s no wonder they’re a pike paradise and typically known as big fish spots.

Structure Details

NaturalStructureWhen fishing points, humps and saddles, paying attention to the finer details in the layout of these areas will catch you more and bigger pike. You want to   find additional features that will concentrate fish. These zones are often   referred to as “the spot on the spot” and represent prime real estate   for fish. Small fingers, which could be described as miniature points, and   inside bends on any of these three spots have a tendency to attract fish and   funnel their movements. Focusing on deep weed walls is wise as pike will hunt   along these edges. Rock piles also attract fish.

If   you’re fishing the river section of our lake keep current in mind. Expect   northern to hunt on the middle to the downstream portion of structures more   often than the area being hit with flowing water. Walleye and suckers will   hold in the slack water created by these structures and pike won’t be far away from their food.

The next   time you’re pursuing a fishing map, keep points, humps and saddles in mind.   These structures regularly hold quality northern pike throughout the year   after fish have spawned. Fish them thoroughly and don’t be afraid to hit the   same structure multiple times in a day to better your chances at intercepting   a big pike feeding.

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Deep Water Walleye Fishing

DSCN0898When you catch a big Walleye, big meaning over 6-pounds, there is a 95% chance that it’s a female. The big females generally only go into the shallows in the spring where they are up along the shore, in rivers or over sandbars, which are their favorite places to spawn. The smaller males seem to stay in the 2 to 15 foot range all year. The bigger females tend to go deeper then 15 feet. When fishing deep for big mid-summer/ early fall walleye fish between 20 and 40 feet deep.

Why do the big females go deep? There are several explanations depending on the size of the lake and how far north the lake is.

1) Bigger females have a larger air bladder, which makes them hyper sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. Being deeper makes the adjustment a little easier when the weather changes.LOTM-rapala-ice-jig

2) Bigger females spend too much energy chasing small bait fish that are found in shallow water. The bigger bait fish that are found is shallow water like perch etc., are hard to swallow as they have defensive spins in their fins. Lake Chub, Whitefish, Lake Herring  are all found in abundance down deep AND this food source is abundant in Wawang Lake. They are easier to swallow and more rewarding when considering the amount of energy needed to catch them. These deep water bait fish, especially Whitefish, have more oil in their meat thus more calories.

3) A walleye metabolism speeds up in shallow warm water. As a result, the bigger they get, the more food they need to maintain their weight. If the food is not there, they go to deeper cold water so their metabolism slows down. The dangerous thing about this is there is a fine threshold between eating more or conserving energy. If a big Walleye gets to the point where they can not find enough food to maintain their weight, they do get smaller, then they die. As soon as a Walleye gets to the point where they are starting to weaken from lack of food energy, they do not have the energy to catch bait fish and starve to death.

4) In smaller northern lakes, there is a larger population of Pike regularly attack walleye and bigger slower moving females are an easy target. This is another reason why they go deep right after they spawn.

 

DSCN0892
Some Types of Lures to Use on the Big Lake:

When you are Walleye fishing on big water like Wawang Lake, the walleye tend to stay suspended along with the schools of bait fish. Lets say you were on a big  part of the lake, , the best thing to do is troll until you come across a deeper school of bait fish and then keep trolling over the bait school.

These schools of bait-fish can be 15 to 40 feet deep and the walleye will be there too. The most popular lures are the Rapala Husky Jerks and the Rattlin’ Fat
Raps.
–> 10 to 20 feet deep – Regular Husky Jerks
–> 20 to 40 feet deep – Down Deep Husky Jerk or Down Deep Rattlin’ Fat Rap

Just troll around and use your depth finder to spot schools of fish. To determine how deep you are, the Regular Husky Jerks go down about 1 foot for every 10 feet of line out. The Down Deep Rapalas go down about 3 feet for every 10 feet of line out. So using a Down Deep Rapala, getting down 30 feet deep means you need 100 feet of line out. This is just a general estimate. The speed of your troll will affect how deep the lures will go.

3-Way Swivel Rig:

 

The best way to fish down deep for Walleye is with 10-pound test line and a 3-way swivel rig. This technique is also excellent for other fish that are right on bottom in the 20 to 60-feet of water.

You need 8 to 10 pound test because thicker line has too much friction with the water and it will be hard to find the bottom. You also need a 1-oz or 2-oz weight, a 3-way swivel and a lure that does not sink. Use an Original floating Rapala, Junior Thunderstick, Countdown Rapala or a worm harness with small spinner blades and a big fat worm.

This rig is smaller than the standard type; You need a 3-foot lead line from the 3-way swivel to the sinker. Then you need a 5 or 6-foot lead line to your lure.  Get a strait slow troll going and slowly let out line until your sinker hits the bottom. Then reel up a foot and wait.. Keep those lines tight!

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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

pike

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one.

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Northern Pike Patties

It all begins with a day on the lake when the northern pike have kicked up a good bite.  A couple four to five pound northern and you’ll have yourself a delectable meal of fresh caught fish and nothing better than northern pike from Wawang Lake.

2013-06-10 13.20.12

Here is a nice catch of northern to make this recipe caught by Scott Frey and his dad.

4 lbs. northern pike fillets, de-boned, cooked and chopped

4 Potatoes, boiled, mashed

2 Eggs, beaten

8 Green Onions, chopped

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Green Pepper, chopped

1/4 tsp. Tabasco

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 cup Flour

Spray Oil for frying

Mix ingredients well and shape into patties. Dip the patties into the flour and fry until browned in a non-stick fry pan sprayed with oil.  Great meal with fresh caught fish or left over fish too.

imagesCAS2BON0

ENJOY!!

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Vertical Jigging for More Fish

vertical-jigging-1Vertical jigging can be an invaluable technique, especially when it is placed into the mix with trolling, casting and static-line methods. It can be another powerful weapon in the angler’s arsenal, but, unfortunately, it is perhaps not used as frequently as it should be.

The advocates of vertical jigging state that not only is it a fun-filled way to while away the hours, but it is also a highly productive way to fish. Many anglers dramatically increase their success rate when they begin to use a vertical jig.

In fact, in some locations, vertical jigging is not simply one of the beneficial tactics, but it is the most productive method of fishing for walleye. The advantages of vertical jigging are numerous. For example, it is widely accepted as a cost-effective technique. In addition, it only requires a small amount of physical exertion and, most importantly, it is a basic approach that can be adopted by anybody.

The success of vertical jigging is made possible through the accuracy of the technique. Rather than trolling wide expanses of water, it is required that the angler does a little research first. By establishing the structure of the lake or river that you are fishing in, you can locate the positions that are most likely to contain the walleye. Of course, if you have radar equipment, then you will find pinpointing the walleye spots even more easy, but this is not necessary and a comprehensive map of the water should be sufficient.

vertical

There will be times when establishing the position of the fish leads you to the deep sections of the lake or river. If you are fishing for walleye in particularly deep waters, you may wish to consider using a partial glow head and spinner blade on your jig, as this is a great combination for deep fishing or trolling.

In terms of bait, when it comes to vertical jigging it really is a matter of choice. Any bait can be used, so, if you find that minnows, crawlers or leeches work best for you then, by all means, use any of those. Personal preference is such a large part of successful fishing.

More good news for beginners is that vertical jigging can allow for a margin of error. In other words, if you have let a walleye get away, but you know it is still under your boat, the vertical rig allows you to get right under the boat to try for a second chance. With many presentations, you may not expect to get a bite until the bait has reached the lakebed. However, with the vertical jig, you are just as likely to find success as the bait is on its way down. Subsequently, it is always a good idea to be prepared for those walleye.

Vertical jigging, or V-jigging as it is sometimes known, is an extremely enjoyable way to fish. It relies heavily on skill and technique, which is hugely satisfying for an angler. However, that does not mean to say that it is difficult to learn. Even beginners can take to vertical jigging and can be extremely successful with this method.

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