Thursday, July 21, 2016

Want Your Largemouth Big? Fish a Jig!

It was a cool fall day. We had a really good morning plastic worm bite catching big fish consistently.  Around mid-morning, the action died.  Did the fish move?  Did we catch them all?  I didn't think so, it was a classic fall spot.  It had plenty of structure with weeds, next to deep water.  The sonar lit up like a Christmas tree all around the area especially in deep water, so there was plenty of bait nearby.  Yeah, the fish were there.  They had to be.

I tied on a black and blue jig, leaving a chewed up plastic worm as the trailer, and tossed it out, let it sink, keeping a tight line as the jig fell.  All of a sudden, the line went slack as I felt a tap, so I set the hook hard and my rod stopped as if I'd set into a rock, but all of a sudden there were head shakes.  The fat largemouth lept out of the water trying to throw the hook as I plunged my rod down into the water to prevent it.  It failed in it's next attempt to dislodge the hook after rocketing under my boat hull, and I finally brought it to the surface and netted it.  That first fish went 19 inches long.

After that, the action continued all morning as I caught 17 more fat bellied largemouth bass, all over 18 inches and my 5 biggest over 20 inches long, with the largest one being 22.5 inches long!  Man, did they ever love that jig that day.  My love for skirted jigs and efforts to reincorporate them into my daily bass fishing arsenal finally paid off.  What a day!

This was one of five fat largemouth over 20 inches that fall day that fell for my jig and eel combo.

My jig and eel combo from that day that caught a bunch of bass like the one pictured above, and in the basses mouth in the picture below.  Plastic worms make great trailers, by the way.
A few years ago, one of my goals was to become proficient in flipping and pitching skirted jigs because they catch big bass.  There is no questioning that.  Denny Brauer became famous on the B.A.S.S. circuit catching massive limits, winning tournaments and tons of money using them, as have others over the years.  They aren't new by any means, but one thing is for certain, when that jig bite is on, it's big bass time.
This largemouth bass hammered this jig and eel combination.
Now let me just say right now that I've always been a believer in these lures.  Many years ago, I fished them from shore and from my boat and landed quite a number of good sized largemouth bass.  But, for some reason, given the effectiveness of soft plastics, I sort of got away from using them.  A few years ago, upon remembering those good times, I was determined to make it part of my arsenal again.

My first step to meet that goal a few years ago was to replace my old flipping rod.  I purchased a Powell Max medium heavy pitching rod and an Ardent flipping reel.  I didn't care for the reel, so it has since been shelved.  Instead, I use my old Shimano Castaic, which to this day I feel is the best pitching reel that I've ever owned.  I spooled up some Power Pro braid, and I was in business.  By the way, I don't believe that the fish care about seeing the line, so I tie directly to the lure.  I set the hook very hard and found myself snapping off fluorocarbon leaders, so heck with that.  So far, so good without the leader.
My current pitching/flipping rig consists of the Powell MH pitching rod teamed with a Shimano Castaic Reel.  I love this combo.
The next step was to practice.  I stood on a stool in my back yard every night and pitched jigs of different sizes into a coffee cup.  At first, I started close in, about 15 feet away, and missed often.  Then, I got the hang of it.  I practiced every night, moving the cup further away, and eventually was able to put it in the cup most of the time, or at least hit it at distances out to 30 feet.  After that, I used multiple cups and pitched or flipped to all of them.  It was fun to practice too.  One evening, a mockingbird chased my jig a few times making it more interesting.  I had to reel it in quickly to keep the bird from getting hooked.  I couldn't wait to put my skills into action, and it didn't take long for the fish to cooperate.

Jigs are awesome.  They come in plenty of colors, sizes, head shapes, and they can be teamed with many different types of trailers, ranging from pork to soft plastic ones in a zillion shapes and sizes.
My last outing had this box with a decent selection of jigs and trailers, along with some Carolina rig supplies and a few odds and ends.  I carry a box of jigs every time I go largemouth fishing now.  

This green pumpkin jig and plastic craw combo not long ago caught a nice bass and chain pickerel on back to back pitches.  I may have caught more on it that day, but I didn't pull it out until the end of the day.  Prior to that, we were on a good chatterbait bite.
Chain pickerel and other predatory fish love skirted jigs too!   This medium sized chainside inhaled my jig and eel.
So here's the deal, everyone knows jigs work.  They catch plenty of fish and more often than not, they'll be big.   Don't take my word for it, read up on other successes or check out the countless articles in fishing magazines and on-line forums.  Better yet, if you haven't tried them, give them a try, and don't give up!  Some day, they'll pay off for you.

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