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IT'S JIG TIME ON LAKE LIVINGSTON
By Len Fairbanks

"Jig-n-pig", "jig-n-pork", "jig-n-frog", "jig-n-eel", "jig-n-craw" and just plain "jig", these terms all describe what will be one of the most productive bass lures in East Texas during the coming months. Basically these terms describe a jig (usually rubber skirted but sometimes with a deer hair skirt) and different types of trailers. The first four are talking about a jig with a pork type trailer such as those manufactured by Uncle Josh or Strike-King/Bo-Hawg. The main advantage of these pork type trailers is that they will remain pliable and more flexible and therefore produce a more lifelike action in colder water temperatures. Many pros switch over to pork in any water temperatures below 55º. Jig-n-craw describes a jig with some type of plastic crawworm trailer. This is what most of us use during the majority of the year, while there are still some purists out there that prefer to use pork year 'round. The main disadvantage of pork is that it begins to dry out rather quickly when its out of the water. So it can dry out while you are running from one fishing spot to the next. This is not nearly the problem this time of year that it is during the summer, but it is something to consider.

If you follow any of the pro circuits, you know that a jig is one of the pros' favorite baits. Denny Brauer won the '98 BassMasters Classic and became the all-time money winner on the BASS tour and a jig is usually his lure of choice. Former BASS MegaBucks Champion and consistent Classic qualifier Tommy Biffle almost always keeps a jig tied on. Former BassMasters Classic champion, Jay Yelas, caught the majority of his bass at the Classic two years ago on a Berkley Power Jig. A couple of factors contribute to this loyalty. First is the hooking-to-landing percentage. You just don't lose many fish with a jig. Usually when a bass bites a jig, he has the whole bait in his mouth. Sometimes with soft plastics, the bass will pick up a worm or lizard by the tail or pick up a crawworm by the pincers. This leads to missed fish and the pros will tell you that most of the time it is very difficult to get a bass to bite after you have just jerked a bait out of his mouth. Also, because of the design of the bait, the point of the hook rides up all the time and you usually hook the fish in the top of the mouth. This is a tough portion of the mouth and therefore the hook rarely pulls out while the fish is fighting. Secondly, the pros prefer a jig because it produces larger than average fish. You don't have to measure many of the bass that you catch on a jig. Smaller, more subtle baits will produce more bites most of the time, but usually the fish are going to be smaller. How many times do you think a four pounder was swimming over to grab your bait but a ten incher beat him to it. A jig and trailer is a little bit bigger meal than most ten or twelve inchers are willing to tackle. Therefore you won't get as many bites with a jig, but the ones that you get are usually going to be quality bites. And in tournament competition these days, quality bites are of the utmost importance.

With the cooler air and water temperatures, usually the bass want something slow moving and on the bottom. If this is the case, then the jig fills the bill. So if you just know that there are some bass in the lay-down logs and brushpiles that you have been casting to and you just can't get 'em to bite your crankbaits and spinnerbaits, then throw 'em a jig. Throw that jig in the thickest cover that you can find. Try to find some cover near deep water (7'-10'), the bass like to stay a little closer to deep water this time of year. Logpiles, brushpiles, stumps and reeds are excellent places to drop your jig. Lake Livingston seems to have bass in shallow water almost year 'round and a jig is a great bait to go after 'em with.

On Lake Livingston I usually use a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig with a 4" Berkley Power Craw trailer. I usually bite about 11/2" off my crawworm before I put it on my jig, this makes the bait a little more compact. This year the bass have had a preference for something with red on it. I have been having good luck with a black/brown/amber jig with a plum/chartreuse claw or a camouflage Power Craw trailer. If the water looks pretty muddy, try a black/blue jig with a solid chartreuse trailer, you may get surprised. Since I am always fishing fairly thick cover with my jig, I usually use 20 pound clear premium monofilament like Berkley Big Game or Trilene XT or some of the new supertough Ironsilk. I always use a 7'6" heavy action Fenwick flipping rod (model GTC 775-2) for my jig work. Also, I use like to use a smooth, quality, high-speed, baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release like one of the new Abu Garcia Tornö 3006HSI. This reel has a new, super-smooth spool system that really improves pitchin' distance.

Next month is going to be the Houston Boat Show at the new Reliant Complex. Come by and see me at the Lake Livingston Area Tourism Council booth or the Lakecaster booth. Also I plan be giving bass fishing seminars again this year. The subject of these seminars is going to be "Springtime Bass Fishing in East Texas." Check the seminar schedule posted in the Reliant Complex or printed in the Houston Chronicle. Come by and visit, and tell me what you think about my articles and let me know what you'd like to have me cover in the future. I look forward to seeing you. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or you can email me at fairbanks@towa.org. If you get a chance, check out my web site at www.livingston.net/fairbanks and let me know what you think. Don't forget, a guide trip makes an excellent Christmas present that will provide memories for years to come. Until next month, may God bless you and yours, have a happy and safe holidays and remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Sponsored by: Ranger Boats, Motorguide, Pro-Kon-Trol, Lowrance Electronics, Fenwick, Energy Batteries, Turbo Props, Dual Pro Battery Chargers, Mitchell, Spiderwire, Berkley, Abu Garcia, VMC Hooks, Plano and Ocean Waves Sunglasses.

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