Cold Water Jig Fishing

No other lure has accounted for more big money wins for tournament fishermen than a jig and pig. They are one of the most versatile baits available today, they can be fished 12 months a year, fished in cover that would have most fishermen trembling in fear to even consider anything else.  They are available in a variety of sizes and countless colors, and they can be fished in an unlimited number of ways. These days, however, most anglers either pitch a jig to visible targets or flip it into open pockets within thick cover.

Frigid water and biting winds in late winter often persuade anglers to stay home on Saturdays and watch fishing shows on ESPN or even college basketball. After all, those frigid 30- and 40-degree temps in February feel about 40 degrees below zero when traveling 50 mph in a bass boat.  What in the world could inspire someone to leave the recliner in front of the fireplace and hit the water in January, February and even into March or early April way north of the Mason Dixon line … if their favorite lake isn’t frozen over? Like the popular commercial seen on the Saturday morning fishing shows, it’s something in the water, BIG BASS.

Many anglers believe the ONLY way to catch cold-water bass involves working a jig slower than a snail’s pace. Fishing a jig that slowly, for hours at a time in cold weather, may leave an angler half-comatose by the end of the day. However they do produce some of the biggest fish of the year.

First of all, there is no need to get up at the crack of dawn and be on the water first thing in the morning. A few hours of direct sunshine does wonders for waking up cold, sluggish fish. Anglers may also notice that feeding times may be short and furious. So don’t be surprised if an hour goes by without a hit and then three casts produce three fish.

Top pros know that all it takes is one bite on a jig to turn around a tournament. Louisiana pro’s such as Greg Hackney and Tony Chachere III, both utilize and know the benefits of using jigs. Know as one of the best jig fisherman since Denny Brauer, Greg Hackney has taken jig fishing to a whole new level.  “It is probably the most versatile bait in fishing,” says Hackney of his confidence lure. “One of the main reasons I use it is because I like to catch big fish. I don’t know of any other bait out there that appeals more to quality fish than a jig does.”  Jigs allow Hackney to penetrate heavy cover more easily than other lures. “They also hook and hold a higher percentage of fish,” he says.

Other pros on the tour agree and are known for fishing a jig. Denny Brauer obviously known as the master of the jig, on a recent episode of his show Pro Team Journal  stated that his favorite go to bait in cold water is a jig and pig.  Cold water also prompts Brauer to take a slow approach when fishing a jig in cover. Sometimes the tournament veteran pitches his jig into a bush, lets it sit and then shakes it in one place. “There are times when I actually dead-stick it,” he says. “I pitch it in there and don’t move it. I just wait and all of a sudden there it will go. That happens a lot with dock fishing.”  “Obviously, the jig is the best standby wintertime pattern for me to fish the Lake of the Ozarks where I live,” Brauer stated,  “I like to fish deep, rocky banks, and we catch most of our fish in coves or in along creek channel bends.” The ends of bluffs are also a good place to fish the jig during the winter months. This time of the year, Brauer will be fishing 12- to 17-pound-test line. he likes a 1/2-ounce jig, usually fishing a dark-colored jig. If the water’s clear, Brauer will be fishing natural colors like browns, watermelon or green pumpkin.

Louisiana pro fisherman Tony Chachere III also believes in springtime jigging.  “One of my most productive methods for catching big spring time fish is using a Team Supreme jig and trailer,” Chachere stated. “I always try and spool up Power Pro braided line when fishing a jig though.” Chachere also stated that while a lot of people do use mono or flouro carbon line he stays with the braided line as he is pitching and flipping into extremely abrasive areas like lily pads and around the bases of cypress trees.  ”Plus there is always the chance of a monster bass of a lifetime, and I don’t want to lose him by having the line break,” Chachere said.

A lot of pros wonder which is a better trailer in the colder waters of pre spawn, pork or plastic. For the most part they will agree, the oldest jig trailer on the market was a pork trailer, which was soft. It also swam well in cold water and wouldn’t stiffen-up in cold water like plastic did. New products from Uncle Josh like the MAXX Pork trailers that have the fat along the tail of the trailer and newly designed cuts in the tail make pork and excellent choice for cold water.

Other choices today include some soft plastic offerings, with the better plastics of today such as Bayou Outdoors’  Bayou Craw or Strike King’s 3X jig trailer.

Most fisherman will stick with basic colors in the often off colored Louisiana waters in spring time. Nitro Team member and local guide on Cross Lake, Paul Keith states that some of his favorites are dark colors.  “I stick with darker colors in spring time, like black/blue , black/brown/amber or green pumpkin in the spring,” Keith noted also that he liked to pitch to the staging areas looking for the pre-spawn bass.

Regardless of the color or trailer selection you should chose, all the anglers mentioned above did have one thing in common. They all have a jig tied on in the early spring, shouldn’t you?

Chris Megee

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