While deadsticking and tip-ups will produce some first-ice walleye, jigging is the most productive way to catch these fish. Unfortunately, there isn’t a guaranteed jigging rhythm that will trigger walleye to strike on every outing. Sometimes, long sweeping motions with slow, fluttering drops attract the fish. On other occasions, the constant pounding of a lure banging on the bottom draws them in. And sometimes, one particular motion may bring the fish in for a look, while a second, completely different motion is needed to make them strike.
While experimenting with jigging styles, constantly watch your flasher to see how the fish are reacting. If they’re coming in, but not committing, it’s time to try different lure sizes, colours and baits. Once you uncover the right combination of motion, lure and bait, keep working it until it no longer produces.
At the same time, be proactive and use all the holes you drilled. If one doesn’t produce a walleye within five minutes or your flasher doesn’t show any fish coming to investigate your jigging, move to another hole. Stay on the move and keep experimenting. When you put the pieces together and start catching fish, you’ll see there’s nothing like a first-ice walleye blitz.