Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Early Season River Strategies

Early Season River Strategies

By Dusty Minke and Leisure Outdoor Adventures

Tis the season for open water, especially on our border water rivers where the laws allow walleye fishing throughout the year and extended periods into the spring! While mother nature is loosening her grip on the North, most lakes are still covered with many inches of ice.  Looking for an open water fix, take time to check out the river options that exist in Minnesota.  From the Rainy River that separates us from Canada to the Mississippi and St Croix rivers, that prevent Packers fans from invading, there are plenty of options.  Read on to get some great advice from Kruger Farms Pro Dusty Minke for some timely early season tactics.

My favorite tactic for early river fishing is vertical jigging live bait and plastics from Rainy River to St. Croix / Mississippi  and also the St. Louis River in Duluth.

Vertical jigging is an easy tactic and works at all of these locations. I like to make sure that I do some homework before leaving town making sure I know what minnows so I match the local forage. Also, I am reading recent reports to see what areas of the river are reported to have fish.  I am looking at conditions water levels, water clarity, temps, all of these factors will come into play when fishing river. Most importantly when I get there I also want do some experimenting of my own.  I will try live bait, plastics, switch jig colors, looking for that perfect combination that puts fish in the boat. Another good Vertical jigging tip is to make sure you have the right sized jigs for the amount of current flow.  Even though my personal preference is to fish with smaller jigs, that makes no difference.  In the river, it is more important that I am vertical and I have to use the proper amount of weight to get myself straight to the bottom and maintain that vertical profile. Don’t be afraid to use heavy ¾ oz or even 1 oz jigs to get yourself  in the strike zone for slipping down current. When looking for a place to start, basically I look for the warmest water with the current moving.  It can be a little like Goldilocks’ dilemma, not too much current, not too little, looking for that area that is just right! Too much current tends to be tough to fish and stay away from no current slack water areas, you want your boat to be sliding downstream.
If I can’t get them to go with vertical jigging, I switch it up.  Often times for me, I make the switch  to three way rigging. 3 way rigging is the most efficient way to cover water, easily switch weights and if I get snagged, the dropper line with the weight is all I usually lose.  The basic set-up includes a 3 way swivel tied directly to your line with about a 1 foot dropper that will bounce along the bottom. On that dropper I attach a quick snap swivel this way I can change weights quickly depending on currents.   I use from ½ oz all the way up to 4 oz of weight depending on the current flow.  To the remaining swivel will be my line that i use for the bait, in most cases a crankbait of some sort but there time when I am using live bait rigs as well. No matter what I use, I go with about a 6-10 foot leader with another quick snap to the lure, again this will allow me to change baits with relative ease.  As I am dialing in the pattern for weight or type of crankbait, these quick snap swivels save me a ton of time.  Typically, I will look to use bright colors in the spring stained river waters. As I mentioned, I will switch this rig up and put spinners on it or live bait rigs using both minnows and crawlers even leeches, but don’t tell anyone about the leeches! 3-way rigging is allows me to cover water and always stay in the effective strike zone by slipping up current in high percentage areas!  
Despite lakes being covered with ice, get to the river and take these two tactics with you and I guarantee some walleye action. So get out there and hit the river and you too will 'Get Hooked!' on your next adventure!

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