by Bob Jensen
If you want to be successful when you go fishing, you need to first, find the fish. Once you’ve done that, you need to give them what they want to eat. If you do those two things, you’ll catch more fish more often.
One really important thing to remember is that fish behave differently at different times of the year. Sometimes they want a bait that’s moving fast, other times they want a slower moving bait. In the spring when the water is cooler, slow moving bait will usually catch more fish. Here are some ideas on slow moving baits that will catch more fish in the next few weeks.
Jigs are perhaps the best presentation for walleyes in the spring in most places where walleyes live. In many situations you’ll be fishing for walleyes over sand, pea gravel, and emerging vegetation. Dragging a jig/minnow will be a very good technique, and the best style of jig to drag will be a stand-up jig.
When you drag a jig, you’re casting the jig out, letting it sink to the bottom, then crawling, or dragging it, along the bottom. Frequent pauses in your retrieve will get reluctant fish to bite. You don’t want to be hopping the jig, you want a slow retrieve.
A stand-up jig does just that: When you stop the jig, it stands up on the bottom. A round head jig lays flat on the bottom at rest. The fish can see the minnow on the stand-up jig much better when the jig is sitting still, which increases your odds for getting bit. One of the most popular and effective stand-up jigs is the stand-up Fire-Ball jig.
Probably the ultimate way to present a bait slowly is a slip-bobber rig. With a slip-bobber, you can dangle a bait right on a fish’s nose. Wherever people fish, they’re using bobbers or slip-bobbers for panfish, walleyes, bass, pike, and muskies.
The key to bobber success is figuring out how deep you should set the bobber, and how deep the bobber is set depends on where the fish are. If the fish are near the bottom, you want the bobber set so your bait is near the bottom. You want your bait just a little bit above the fish, because fish will move up to take a bait, but rarely will they go down to take a bait. They can see up better than they can see down, which explains the likelihood of them moving up but not down.
You can use a small jig or hook below the bobber, and you can attach live bait, probably a minnow but maybe a leech in the spring. If panfish are the quarry, plastics can be very good on the jig also. I’ve done very well with the Impulse line of plastics for panfish. When using plastics, you’re going to need to impart some action by jiggling the rod tip. Live bait will provide their own action, and there are times when the action of live bait will be more productive. Trial and success are the best way to figure this out.
Once an angler understands that fish behave differently in different seasons that angler will be more successful. For the most part, if you move your bait slower in the spring, you’ll catch more fish.