Outside Chance: The 1-2 punch for walleye and panfish

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By Jack Payne

 “The easiest way to a fish fry is with the combination of jigs and floats,” said Jeff Sundin, a fishing guide. Guides that fish inland lakes must learn techniques that anglers can grasp quickly and that put fish into the boat.


On many of our Michigan lakes green weeds is the ticket. Weed lines produce fish of all species all season long. The two best ways to a fish, a jig or a slip float. Jigs can be fished over the weeds, thru the weeds or along the weed edge.  The same is true for a slip float. A Thill slip float can be drifted with the wind or fished stationary, smack dab on a fish’s nose. You can pitch a float into a small opening or drop a bait down under the canopy of the lowest leaf of a cabbage weed.


“I use side scan looking for a rock, a log or an opening along or inside the weed lines,” said Sundin. Once he finds something different that might hold a fish then out comes a jig or a float. Early in the season Jeff likes using a plain jig head with live bait. Cold water and early in the season a minnow hooked thru the skull. Once the water warms up then a leech on a jig head pops the best.


A jig can be fished to depths of 30 feet or more, the same as a slip float. A jig can and should be fished under a float.  Jigs like the Fuzzy Grub and Little Nipper tipped with a spike pound the panfish. The Lindy Live Bait jigs from Lindy Tackle tipped with a minnow or a leech work great on walleye and bass. The Live bait jigs were designed with Jeff and the Lindy team to present livebait in the best manner with a wide gap hook and a short shank so that easy hook up were attained and short hits less frequent.


“One of the keys is identifying any change to the weed line,” said Sundin. Open pockets, a point, an inside turn are all examples. A second item is locating the first drop off that runs as close to the weedline as possible. The areas where the weeds meet a drop off are magnets.


Right now as this article goes to press the bluegills are using this edge waiting to slide up onto the bedding grounds. Crappies will use the new cabbage to spawn in and around and walleyes are gorging themselves on young perch.


Anglers can cast the jigs and pop them off of the bottom, cast and retrieve over the weeds or just plain cast and reel in very slowly. “The lighter the jig head the better control and action you will have,” said Sundin. Do not get into a rut on how you retrieve your jig.


This is especially true with crappie and gills. Work the jigs in and around the weeds, over the top, flutter or helicopter it down to the lake bottom and swim it back just skipping the bouncing off of the bottom.


They are great for this technique. Each can also be worked with a slip float or a fixed float. Sometimes tipping with a wax worm or a minnow will pay off.


“One of my favorite techniques is called wiggle worming”, said Sundin. Basically this is a round head jig with a full crawler attached. On a very light jig head coupled with a crawler it is nearly snag less and very buoyant. Bass, walleye and giant panfish love it.


“Light or medium light rods are best for game fish and ultra- light rods great on the panfish”, said Sundin. Light line, no heavier than 6 pound is suggested. This is an application where mono really stands out. Mono provides a bit more give, allowing anglers a tad longer time in setting the hook. Casts are often short and the benefits of braid not nearly as present.


Jigs and slip floats can be fished in 1 foot of water or 40 feet of water. Both are easy to master and are multi species lures. Learn the weed edges and consistent catches of fish will be a regular occurrence.