Jigging Post-Spawn ‘Eyes


Mark Martin has some suggestions on where to find post-spawn walleyes, and how to entice them.

For the most part, walleye procreation is over for the year. Large, tightly packed schools of fish are dispersing throughout waterways, heading towards their summer haunts.

The catching can be tough at this time of year, however. It’s not necessarily because the fish aren’t eating; on the contrary, it’s more due to their location after the spawn is over. Or, should I say, due to the many locations they could be during this transition season.

At this time of year, I cover as much water as possible to get a jig in front of the yaps of as many walleyes as I can muster. You’ll see me crankin’ up the main Mercury outboard on my Lund, running spot-to-spot, more than any other season.

Eater ‘eyes

In general, males are the smaller-size fish of this species. They can often be found very near, if not still on, the very structure on which they were spawning.

Walleyes will spawn on a multitude of different structures, from large rock piles to gravel-strewn reefs and flats, to weed beds. At this time of year, I’ll run to as many likely spawning locations as possible. I’ll deploy my bow-mounted electric trolling motor and cast jigs and crankbaits in depths of 3 to 12 feet of water, keying in on areas adjacent to deep water.

Large rocky and weedy flats that butt up to main-lake basins are my first choices to find them. In clear water, I’ll scan the flats while looking through a pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses. Then I’ll cast to the outer edges of weed beds, as well right up onto rock piles and gravel. In stained water, I use Lowrance’s HDS-LIVE to find structure, and perhaps even see the fish themselves, as well my bait.

Another key area lies along steep drop-offs that butt right up to deep-water flats. Here, I’ll keep my boat out over deeper water, then cast up onto the flat and work the jig down the break.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Bring it in

The best retrieve I’ve found is a short, one- to two-foot lift of my rod tip, then immediately reeling in the slack as the jig slowly falls, which allows the jig to swing back towards the boat while falling. Just before the jig hits bottom, I’ll repeat the lift and pendulum fall it all the way back to the boat.

Whether in shallow water or deep, I’ll set the hook on anything that doesn’t feel like all the other lifts and falls. Walleyes are notorious for striking extremely light. A hit may feel like nothing more than a slight “tick” telegraphed through the rod tip, or even just a twitch of the line.

Lighten up!

Rule number one when jigging is to use as light a jighead as possible. Overall, a 1/8-ounce head is my go-to. This may need to be increased to a 1/4-ouncer if the wind is up, grabbing my line and creating slack. If the fish are in extremely shallow water, on the other hand, I’ll go as light as 1/16-ounce.

Line ‘em up

Like with jigheads, I want my line to be as light as I can get away with. Berkley FireLine of 6-pound test, spooled onto my ABU Garcia spinning reel, is my choice for jigging. This line is super-thin, and its nearly no-stretch properties make it extremely sensitive. As for color, I want to be able to see my line at all times when jigging. FireLine in Flame Green allows me to see a strike with just a twitch of the line, even before feeling it through my medium-light, fast-action, 6- to 6-1/2-foot Fenwick rod.

I tie my jig directly to the FireLine with a Palomar knot. Even in clear water, a mono or fluorocarbon leader is not needed when jigging. If you’re not confident in tying directly to a bright-colored braided superline, then add a tiny ball-bearing swivel to the braid with a Palomar knot, then a two-foot section of fluorocarbon leader, and then the jig. Berkley’s Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon in 6-pound-test is my preference.

Getting tipsy

Obviously, live bait is always a great choice to tip to a jig. Shiners, chubs, half a nightcrawler and a leech all great choices. Soft plastics, however, can produce just as many strikes as the real deal.


You’ll get plenty of helpful tips from the pros who know in every issue of MidWest Outdoors, available by subscribing on our website.