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Go Vertical Jigging for Spring Walleyes with Artificial Baits

Posted by 
March 25, 2017
Published in News & Tips > Fishing > Walleye
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walleye kavajeczAre you fishing where the walleyes are? Springtime walleyes are typically found in shallow water at a depth of about 15 feet or less. This is true whether you're fishing in lakes, rivers or reservoirs. It's also in the spring when walleyes move to shallow water for spawning as the water temperature reaches the low 40s.  They're looking to find and feed on baitfish around new vegetation that forms in the shallow warm water.

1 arrow pointTip: Vertical jigging is an effective way to put your bait directly in front of a walleye while fishing rivers in the spring. 

While baiting jigs with live minnows was the standard for years, artificial baits now rule the river. One benefit to using artificial baits is that they tend to be more durable than live bait, because they stay on the hook longer. Not only does this save time from having to bait your hook again, it often gives you a second chance to catch a fish that might try to “steal” live bait from your hook.

shopping walleye bannerDuring early spring, bait with subtle tail action will often work best. I like to use the 3-inch Berkley Power Bait Pro Jig Worm, which has a paddle on the back. With a very limber design, you don’t have to work hard for this bait to have a lot of action. Natural colors work well, as they mimic a night crawler.

berkley power jig worm
Berkley Power Bait Pro Jig WormBerkley Power Bait Pro Jig Worm

The 2.5 and 3-inch Berkley Gulp Minnows do an excellent job at mimicking a real minnow. You can increase the profile of your presentation by doubling up the baits. To do this, thread a 3-inch minnow on the jig all the way up to the jig head. Should one of the minnows get plucked off the jig, you can drop it right back down and try to get a second bite.

1 arrow pointTip: The walleyes will be relating to the bottom, so you will want to give the jig a sharp 6-inch “pop” off the bottom and hold it for a couple seconds before slowly lowering back down. As soon as it hits bottom, pop it again. Do not let the bait sit on bottom long, as it can drag in the current and snag. Once you feel weight on the lift, set the hook!

BPS walleye jigs
Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye jigs

I like to use the Bass Pro Shops XPS Walleye jigs for much of my vertical jigging. These jigs have a “semi-stand-up” design. This means that the hook is angled up as the jig sits on bottom, putting it in the perfect position for a fish to inhale it. This increases your odds of hooking up. Another great jig is the Mustad WL746 Walleye Elite Jig, which is a traditional round head with a razor-sharp UltraPoint hook. The longer than normal sized hook on this jig allows it to come out of the back of a Berkley GULP! Minnow in the perfect spot. The hook also stays sharp after banging on rocks.


Editor’s Note: If you have questions or comments on this or other articles of mine you may have read, contact me through the website The NextBite.

Keith Kavajecz


Tagged under Read 2834 times Last modified on September 20, 2017
Keith Kavajecz

Home: Kaukauna, Wisconsin
(wife) Lynn, (sons) Tom, Bill & Mike, (grand kids) Alex, Savanah, Jayden, Preston
Hunting & Fishing
: Tracker / Nitro 290 Sport

Angling Stuff

Favorite Technique: Vertical jigging
Fishing Strength:
Reading my Lowrance electronics
Favorite Lake:
Fort Peck, Montana
Favorite Species Fished
Likes to Fish:
Reservoirs, hunt for the fish with electronics and once found, they typically bite!

Career Highlights

Fishing 50 years and 21 years as full time pro
Awarded - National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame Legendary Angler
2011 FLW Championship Qualifier
3 Time AIM Championship Qualifier
1991-2008 18-Time In-Fisherman PWT Championship Qualifier (1 of 2 PWT angers to qualify for 18 of 19 Championships)
2003 In-Fisherman PWT Top Gun Award Winner
2002 In-Fisherman PWT Champion
2002 In-Fisherman PWT Top Gun Award Winner
1998 North American Walleye Anglers - Angler Of the Year

Latest from Keith Kavajecz


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