Article image - Light Tackle Jigging for Great Lakes Salmon

Jigging with light tackle is one of the most thrilling fresh water experiences. Some days the fish will rip the rod out of your hands while others they will tap it like a walleye. One thing is for sure, they will always take a kayak for a sleigh ride.

Timing is everything when it comes to jigging for kings. Here on the west side of Lake Michigan, summer brings westerly winds that blow the warm surface water off-shore and cold water slides in from underneath. These up-wellings bring in bait fish and the salmon follow. Look for water temperatures in the upper forties and low fifties along break walls or other structures.

I like to use medium action seven- to seven-and-a-half foot spinning rods with ten-pound braid and a three-foot leader of ten-pound fluorocarbon. My baits of choice are soft plastic minnows or flukes on darter head jigs or blade baits such as Vibrations Tackle Echotails.

Article image - Light Tackle Jigging for Great Lakes Salmon

I constantly monitor my Lowrance for schools of bait fish with salmon feeding underneath. Then pedal myself over them so I can see the fish and my bait on the sonar. The MirageDrive® is vital to positioning myself over the fish while continuing to keep my bait in the strike zone. I like to make quick snaps with the rod then slowly drop the jig. Most bites happen on the drop or pauses.

During one of my first jigging trips a salmon bit just ten feet under my kayak. It just tapped the bait like a walleye but the fish tore out line and swam straight towards an anchored power boat. I tightened down my drag but the fish kept going and pulled me into the boat with enough force that there was a loud “thud.” The anglers in the boat were nice enough to pull up their anchor. I landed the twenty-pound salmon after a long battle.

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