Jigging For Walleye In a Hobie Kayak
If you are familiar with jigging for walleye on the Detroit River you would find it hard to understand how someone can do it out of a kayak, unless you knew how a Hobie Mirage Drive Kayak works. With the combination of the Mirage Drive and rudder you can accomplish the same thing as a powerboat that uses an electric motor or a kicker motor to maneuver their boat to float with the current of the river at a speed that will keep their line vertical. The Mirage Drive is a device that will seat inside the kayak and allows you to pedal instead of paddle your kayak. [There are other non-paddle options for kayaks, including the Native “Propel” pedal drive and the Ocean Kayak “Torque” electric motor. –Ed.]
Because you are sitting, you need sharp hooks that will help to give the hook set needed when you feel that bite. Try to use around a 7’ rod, which will give you the extra travel when you first set the hook. Sitting in a kayak only gives you half the travel, or less, than if you were standing in a powerboat. I have started using Matzuo® sickle hook jigs this year, and my percentage of hooking fish is much better than in the past.
I use a spinning rod set up spooled with 10 lb PowerPro line with a 6’ – 7’ leader of fluorocarbon. Depending on the depth, I use 5/8, 3/4, or 1oz jigs. Using a needle that carp anglers use for setting up a hair rig, I will put through the FinS minnow starting just where the hook came through and push through to the tail. Here you hook on the stinger hook and pull back to main hook and fasten onto it.
Once you have hooked the fish, make sure that your drag is set properly to give enough pressure so the fish can’t spit the hook. Make sure your net is close by, so you can grab it just before getting the fish to the surface. I have my net right behind me on the right side of my kayak, because I am right handed. In one quick motion as I take one hand off the rod I will continue to lift the fish to the surface with one hand as the other is grabbing the net and lowering it just beneath the surface to net my catch. Probably 90% of the time the hook pops right after netting the fish. This is where sitting in a kayak close to the water has the advantage if you are using your net properly.
Best Time of Year
April and May is prime time for jigging on the Detroit River. Even if the wind blows and one side of the river unfishable, there is always the other side. I purchase a Michigan license every year to have that option and also carry a Nexus card in case I need to go into a canal or land on shore. [The Nexus card is ID used for cross-border travel. –Ed.] There are a couple of spots where the Detroit River is less than a mile wide and easy to cross.