Early in the spring, when bass are in a pre-spawn mode and haven’t yet come up into the shallows, you can have some unbelievably good days by fishing deep with jigs.
While we’re kinda on the backside of what is traditionally considered “jig season” (late fall through early spring), there’s still time to get out and hammer a bunch of fish. Here’s how to do it:
First, let’s take a closer look at jigs. There are bunches of different makes and models out there but all jigs are based off the same basic design — a leadhead and a skirt of some sort. That’s the body of the lure. Then, you add a trailer to the back end – either old school pork or plastic. Either way, the trailer imitates the pinchers of the crawdad.
As with the heads, there are many varieties of trailers to choose from and most folks go with plastic because it won’t turn to leather like pork does in the sun. While the actual brand of plastic “claws” you go with is really a matter of personal taste, try to keep it in the brown/purple, brown/green pumpkin, brown/orange and straight brown tones for local waters.
Most jigs come with skirts made of silicone, which works okay, but you’re better off if you can find ones with Living Rubber skirts. The rubber is much more life-like and moves more in the water than silicone and generally just looks a lot more like something tasty to eat. Bass Patrol makes a really nice line of jigs that are about the best I’ve seen.
Okay, so we’ve established that jigs closely mimic crawdads. It only makes sense then, to fish them in areas that are frequented by the little crustaceans. So, what you’re going to want to look for is an area that has a nice rocky bottom to it. Football head jigs seem to work best in those areas since they are less prone to getting hung up.
Size-wise, go with, ¼- to 3/8-ounce heads when fishing shallow (down to about 20 feet). Bump up the size to ½- to 1-ounce as you start moving down towards that 40-foot mark. You’re looking to have enough weight to keep you in constant contact with the bottom. And on that note, if you’re fishing in the wind, bump up the size of your jig head.
This time of year, the fish can be anywhere from the surface down to 40 feet and that will all depend on the day, the lake and the weather. The idea is to cast out and let the lure hit the bottom. Then, retrieve it with a nice slow 2- to 12-inch lift of the rod tip. Again, think “crayfish” here – try to make that lure slowly crawl across the bottom and up and over rocks. Resist the urge to do too much or to move quickly. This is a slow process, but the rewards can be impressive!
When a bass eats a jig, it can be anything from a soft “tick” on the rod tip, to a powerful slam. Either way, set the hook as quickly as possible because the fish tend to spit these lures out in the blink of an eye.
For jig fishing, run 12-pound fluorocarbon (I really like Sunline) on a medium heavy-action rod. Because of the deeper water and size of the hook, you need some power to get the point buried in the tough lips of a bass.
While jig fishing can be good throughout the year, right now…before the fish move up onto the spawning flats…is prime time!