Who Let The Big Dogs Out?

Try using big jigs for mid-summer walleye success.

That’s advice from Professional Walleye Trail pro Tommy Skarlis. Many anglers will use Lindy Rigs at this time of the year, but Skarlis likes big jigs to reach fish far deeper than most fishermen fish.

“Very few people go deeper than 20 to 25 feet,” said Skarlis. “But they are missing out. I like to fish 20 to 40 feet, even 50 feet at times.”

Ted Takasaki

Another advantage is that big jigs cover water faster to find active fish.

A third advantage is that bigger hooks yield better hooksets.

This tactic works in natural lakes, reservoirs and in deep holes in rivers.

In reservoirs, Skarlis scouts large flats close to the main river channel. He focuses on sharp drop-offs on points and inside and outside turns. He especially likes deep “hard spots” created in bends in the old river channel in the days before the reservoir filled. The “old” current has scoured away dirt or sand and exposed the hard rock below. He concentrates on the top of the break or at the very bottom where the rock meets the mud. If there is a ledge midway between those two areas, that’s all the better.

Look For Long Points
In natural lakes, Skarlis looks for long, extended points that reach all the way to deep water and mid-lake humps or islands surrounded by deep water. Sometimes, sharp breaks can be found far out into the lake where a 20-foot depth suddenly falls to 40 feet and more. These are good spots because they are infrequently fished.

In rivers, Skarlis looks for outside turns and the deeper holes on river bends with low current. Big jigs are a true advantage, though, when the current starts to rumble. In high current, move towards the inside turns or where the current is diverted. Try vertical jigging or hovering over the spot. Wing dams on the Mississippi are key areas for fish in the summer.

Use a medium to medium-heavy spinning rod and spinning reel spooled with 6-pound line. Tie on a 3/8th- to 1-ounce jig, such as Lindy’s Jumbo Fuzz-E-Grub. The determining factor for weight size is to use enough weight to maintain bottom contact either vertically below the boat or while you are drifting/slow trolling.

Add Power Grubs or Power minnows for scent and action, which can provoke a reaction strike. At other times, Skarlis puts on a Fuzz-E-Grub body and dresses the jig with a big 5-inch minnow or jumbo leech.

He will often go with traditional colors; white and black for clear water, chartreuse or glow jigs in stained water. Try adding a stinger hook if you are plagued by short biters.

Never fear that the jig will be too large. “I’ve had 14-inch walleyes hit a big jig,” Skarlis said. “You don’t always have to go light. You can go heavy and thump up some big fish.”

Start by watching the sonar to see telltale marks that could signal walleyes or schools of baitfish. Use an electric trolling motor to follow the break. Don’t let your line get more than a 45-degree angle with the water’s surface. If you do, you may lose the feel of the jig against the bottom and miss strikes. In addition, try using a more aggressive jigging action — more like fishing a blade bait than a jig to provoke strikes.

If nothing else works, try ripping the jig hard several times, and then hold it still. Even let it drag at times. “They usually hit so hard it will rip the rod out of you hand,” Skarlis said. “Where you get a little nibble on a small jig, you get slams on a big jig.”

In states where two rods are allowed, Skarlis often uses a big-jig rod as a dead stick. He leaves it in the rod holder as he uses another tactic, such as Lindy rigging with his hand-held rod. The big jig drags along the break. He doesn’t touch the rod until it bends from the weight of a fish. This technique works well in deep western reservoirs such as Fort Peck and Lake Oahe.

Go ahead and let the big dogs out of the kennel. You’ll be glad that you did!

For a fine assortment of Freshwater fishing gear, click here.

Ted Takasaki has many fishing achievements, including a victory at the 1993 Mercury Nationals and the 1995 Professional Walleye Trail Top Gun award. He reached the pinnacle of both angling and business when he was named PWT Champion in 1998 and president of Lindy Little Joe, Inc., of Brainerd, Minn., a year later.

(Ted’s sponsors include Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards, Pinnacle Rods and Reels, Bottom Line Electronics, Minn Kota, Stren, Normark, Flambeau, Master Lock, Gamakatsu, Aqua Vu and Nautamatic TR 1.)

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