Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Angler's unique jig method lands walleyes off dock

Mike with dock walleye
walleye is released

Each year more and more people "twig" to the fact that Bow Narrows Camp is literally located in one of the best fishing spots on Red Lake.

The camp is in a narrows (shaped like a bow) that connects several bays including one of the lake's largest -- Pipestone Bay -- to the rest of the lake. Fish must swim right past the camp to move around the lake.

So, they must swim RIGHT PAST YOUR DOCK. This means you can just fish from the dock and do really well. However, there are some fishing techniques that work better than others when fishing either from the shore or a fixed location like a dock.

Mike Gage from Texas, shown in the photos above, has one of the most unique methods that I've seen. I've watched him for several years now catch dozens of walleyes off the dock, pretty much every morning and evening, and it wasn't until last summer that I noticed he does something different from most anglers.

He uses a small jig, either a 1/8 or 1/16-oz jig and tips it with a bit of worm. So far that's no different than most people. He sits on a chair. Sure, you might as well be comfortable.

Then he flips the jig out into deep water and lets it sink to the bottom. That's when his method changes from just about everyone else I've seen who jig for walleyes.

Mike doesn't "hop" the jig across the bottom with a flip of his rod, then reel up the slack and repeat the process. Instead, he reels up the slack and watches his rod tip. If nothing happens after maybe five seconds -- without moving his rod tip -- he takes a couple cranks on the reel all the while watching the rod tip for a telltale tug that a fish has picked up the jig.

He NEVER has any slack line and therefore NEVER misses any bites when the jig is falling!

We have lots of people who do really well fishing off the docks and other than Mike, I would say the ones who do the best usually use a bobber.

Bobbers are a great way to fish at a distance and not get snagged all the time. The very best of these are slip bobbers where an angler puts a tiny rubber stopper on his line which passes right through the bobber. The bobber then falls all the way down to his weight which only needs to be a split shot. This makes it easy to cast the whole rig a good distance away from the dock.

When the rig hits the water the weight pulls the line down through the bobber until it eventually hits the stopper on the line. The stopper can be placed 10-feet or more up from the bait, whatever depth you want to fish. Your aim is always to have your bait near the bottom.

Slip bobbers are also very slender and when the fish takes the bait and pulls the bobber, it slips under the water with little resistance, so the fish can't "feel" it.

While slip bobbers are the best for bobber fishing, most people just clip on the old red-and-white plastic bobber and they seem to do pretty well too.

About the least-productive method of fishing off the dock is to cast and that is how almost everybody fishes. But even these people routinely catch pike and walleye, just not as many as the bobber-and-bait or jig fishermen.

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