Lakecaster Online

OF BASS & GALS
By: Sue Crochet

It's a little early yet, but I sure am itching to get into some good springtime bass fishing. I've also been hearing my bass boat calling, "Water, water!" Yep, we've got plenty of venison, pork, and sausage in the freezer; time to switch gears!

Generally, bass fishing is spotty this time of the year. The warmer days between cold fronts are usually the most productive, but I have caught lots of fish on 30 and 40-degree days. For most die-hard bass anglers, the day has to be pretty awful to be too bad for bass fishing. Let's face it... a bad day fishing is better than a good day working!

If you head up to the lake during one of the warm weather spells and find some 50 to 60-degree water up shallow, there's nothing better than a gold/black back Rogue (made by Smithwick) to get those big bass excited in the early spring. Likewise, floating worms and soft jerkbaits (like a Shad Assassin or Wacky Worm/Trick Worm pulled very slowly just under the surface of the water can entice the most sluggish fish.

On a colder day, you'll probably still need to be out on drops or ledges and long points, near deeper water (anywhere from 10 - 20 feet). If you can find grass, a skirted jig with a pork or craw trailer will likely be your best lure choice. Many people (including myself) avoid fishing a jig, but there are actually just as many ways to fish a jig as there are fishing a worm. The most avid jig angler will tell you that this lure will catch more fish in the 5-pound range and larger than any other lure. I'm not sure that this is accurate, but I can testify that many of the larger stringers of fish in bass tournaments were caught on jigs.

When talking to anglers who consider the jig as their lure of choice nearly 90% of the time, they will usually tell me their preferred method for fishing this lure (especially at Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn) is vertically. That is, they "pitch" the jig a very short distance from the boat, let it hit bottom, lift it off the bottom for a crank or two, then reel up and pitch again. Sounds very boring, doesn't it! However, in extreme water temperature situations (cold or hot), this lure can be very effective when nothing else is working.

Many folks fish a jig very similarly to the way they fish a worm. You can cast it and then "swim" it back to the boat or, cast the lure, allow it to hit bottom, then slowly "bump" it off the bottom while reeling it back to the boat. In all cases, a bass seems to react to a jig the same as a lot of other lures, but particularly the same as a plastic worm. They will attack it fiercely, nearly pulling your rod from your hand. They will inhale the lure and hold it, making you feel like you're hung up on something (sometimes called a "heavy feeling" or "loading up"). And sometimes, they'll nip at the lure, but not take it or they'll pick it up, drop it, pick it up, drop it, and so on.

The only way to learn to fish a jig is to DO IT! Many of the people I know who are avid jig anglers today say that they learned to fish a jig by putting nothing else in their boat, so that they were forced to use only that lure on any given day. Of course, you would only want to do this when you're just fishing for fun and/or trying to learn new techniques. I wouldn't get in my boat with only one lure in a tournament situation!

Like most lures, jigs come in many sizes, weights, and colors. My favorite is the Cyclone jig, which has an extremely sharp and durable hook, and is responsible for catching the largest bass ever recorded on Toledo Bend to date. In any case, you'll need to equip your tackle box with ¼, ½, ¾, and 1-oz. jigs to be sure you're prepared. A ¼-oz. jig is most effective when "swimming" the lure, when you don't particularly want it to go to the bottom or in shallow water. This and the ½-oz. size would also be used when "pitching" or "flipping" to structure, such as the bases of bushes and trees. These sizes allow you to make a quiet or subtle presentation.

The ¾ and 1-oz. sizes are best suited for deep-water situations or when trying to get the lure through thick cover, such as hydrilla. These would be used when fishing vertically or bumping the lure off the bottom, as I explained earlier. When using a heavier jig, it is more critical to "stay in touch" with the lure. In other words, make sure that you can feel the lure at all times. This is more critical because of the heavier weight of the jig, which feels less natural to a bass and will be spit it out more quickly.

There may be various other methods for fishing a jig, but I think the ones I described here will help you to get started. One thing to remember about this time of year is that slower is better. The bass are not usually as aggressive, so well placed, slow-moving presentations of whatever type of lure you are using will be most productive. I hope these tips help you to become a more diverse angler and hopefully, catch more big bass this spring.

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