I'm no farmer, but us Iowans know a thing or two about slopping the hogs. Not the four-legged kind that like to roll around in the mud and eat like pigs. I'm talking about those big, beautiful walleyes, saugers and crappies that often have to live in turbid, muddy water for a few weeks each spring.
The key is feeding them something they can find in conditions where sound, vibration and scent supersede sight. For me, that means big jigs.
Spring river fishing for these species also means current, so jigs ranging from 3/8- to 1-ounce are necessary to get down to those fish and to give them a vertical presentation where you have good control and feel.
You'll need the right tools for the job. My go-to rod for big jigs is a 7-foot St. Croix Legend Extreme medium-fast action. I match it with a reel spooled with super line like 8-pound Fireline or 10-pound Berkley braid because it helps me feel everything that's happening below the water's surface. With spring crappies, I like to stick with fluorocarbon, but the weight of the jig and water color will dictate that decision.
At the business end of that line, I use everything from hair and tinsel jigs to minnows and plastics.
Sauger often like a little flash, so gaudy colors and light-reflecting materials like mylar and tinsel can help get their attention. Usually in the spring when the water temperatures are 50 degrees or less, I'll dress those jigs with a big minnow.
I will also be fishing a jig tipped with a 4- or 5-inch Berkley Power Bait Ripple Shad or Ribworm, or a 6-inch lizard. When the lizard bite is on, you're in for some fast and furious action.
Don't forget about stinger hooks. Walleyes, saugers and crappies inhale their food by flaring their gills. They may not be able to suck in that entire 3/4-ounce jig, and you will usually hook up with more of them if your presentation includes a free-flowing No. 10 treble hook on a fairly stiff piece of monofilament line for buoyancy.
I'm looking forward to thumping some big jigs along the bottom in the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to a few big hawgs, er hogs thumping my jigs, too.
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