There’s been a huge shift the past few of years when it comes to cold-water river walleye fishing. It was once considered that the jig and minnow was the only bait to use on rivers like this. Walleyes and Saugers are not necessarily real active in these colder water environments, but they do tend to be concentrated in good numbers in relatively defined areas. The subtle attraction of the jig and live minnow fished right in front of their noses has historically proven to be both effective and efficient for catching fish. These days however, river rats are beginning to set aside their minnow buckets in favor of artificial tails. You might think it’s because they’re tired of frosty fingers from dipping in the bait bucket, or fed up with one too many spilled minnow pails leaving the boat’s floor as slick as a hockey rink. The real reason plastic tails are getting so much attention amongst these winter walleye warriors is because they catch fish!
Truth be known, savvy walleye anglers on the Mississippi have been using artificial tails for walleyes longer than most and there are definitely some tails that have proven themselves over the years. The best baits are normally a little bigger than what’s typically used for walleyes, with an action-type tail. A popular favorite on this pool of the Mississippi is a four inch ringed-body worm, and so for this outing one of the baits we armed ourselves with was Berkley’s version, the 4 inch PowerBait Ribworm. This type of tail is ideal for the pitching technique used for cold river walleyes as it sinks slowly, and the tail moves seductively in the current with very little effort. The ribs on the worm’s body also help it to displace more water as it moves along, adding to its action and helping fish to locate the bait.