Mark Romanack

            In the Great Lakes region and beyond vertical jigging for river run walleye is a spring tradition. Just a few of the places I have employed the tactics of vertical jig fishing include the Niagara River, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, St. Croix, Fox, Wolf, Saginaw, Tittabawassee, Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. The art of fishing a jig directly below the boat is a lesson in boat control. To accomplish this seemingly simple presentation requires that the boat, current and jig all be moving at the same speed.

The Detroit River is one of dozens of destinations where walleye fishermen can find great spring and fall success using a presentation known as Vertical Jigging. No matter the river, vertical jigging works everywhere walleye are found.


            Anglers approach the presentation of vertical jigging in different ways, but to my way of thinking the only methodology worth investing in involves using a bow...

Sportfishing resources in the Great Lakes region are constantly in a state of change. Despite the best laid plans of fishery biologists, aquatic researchers and natural resource managers, keeping fish populations growing or stable is no easy task.

            In the case of introduced species like king salmon, coho salmon, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and even the steelhead, the challenge of keeping a thriving population of fish is especially difficult. As the Great Lakes have evolved and become more sterile thanks to plankton filtering invasive species like the zebra and quagga mussels, the environment in the Great Lakes is no longer as trout and salmon friendly as it used to be.

While the numbers of king salmon are down in many Great Lakes fisheries, there are still lots of kings to catch in Lake Ontario. One of the author’s favorite destinations is the Niagara Bar near the mouth of the Niagara River in May and again in July/August.


           Here at Fishing 411 we carry a lot of different spinner rigs for catching walleye. The common walleye spinner or what a lot of anglers still refer to as crawler harnesses catch us a bunch of fish, but not all the harnesses we use are configured the same.

          To keep things in our boat ship shape and the right gear readily at hand, we organize our spinners into four different categories intended for completely different fishing presentations.

The foam leader boards produced by FishEng Products do a nice job of keeping walleye harnesses organized and ready for action. These Yakima HammerTime Walleye Harnesses have become the author’s favorite in recent years.


            The spinners we categorize as “open water” rigs are designed to be used on suspended walleye. Because these harnesses never get close to the bottom, we tie up our own custom rigs using components unique to targeting suspended open water fish....

I’ve fished walleye most of my life. I’d like to say I know everything there is to know about this species, but to be brutally honest that simply isn’t true. Experience has taught us a lot about how to catch walleye, but there are still way more things we don’t know about this species compared to what we know to be fact.

This amazing photo taken by Jake Romanack on Saginaw Bay should put the pitter patter into your heart. This instant in time is the “moment of truth” that makes all the work associated with ice fishing worth while.

            What we have learned about walleye is that this species is not afraid to migrate hundreds of miles to find suitable spawning habitat, food to forage upon or other creature comforts. In the case of Lake Erie walleye spawn in April on the many shallow water reefs of the Western Basin. After spawning the adults point their noses to the east and begin a migration that will ultimately take them as far east as they can swim....

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Mark Romanack

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Tustin, MI 49688

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