Lakecaster Online

 Put up that Christmas tree and get out your jig
by LEN FAIRBANKS

Len Fairbanks

Did you know that the current state record bass, a monster weighing 18.18 pounds, and three of the top thirty largemouths recorded in the state were taken in the month of January? Well, now that Santa is back at the North Pole and deer season is closed, it is time to get back to the business of catching bass. And one way to do it this month is with a "jig-n-pig", a "jig-n-pork", a "jig-n-frog", a "jig-n-eel", a "jig-n-craw" or just plain "jig". 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 55BA. 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. 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 a jig is one of the pros' favorite baits. Denny Brauer won the '98 BassMasters Classic back in August and became the all-time money winner on the BASS tour and a jig is usually his lure of choice. A couple of factors contribute to this preference. 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 that average fish. You just don't have to measure many of the bass that you catch on a jig. The second largest bass ever caught in the State of Texas was a 17.67 pound giant that was fooled by 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 moss bed that you have been casting to and you just can't get 'em to bite your crank baits 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.

On Sam Rayburn at this time of year, I usually use a 5/16 or 7/16 ounce Stanley jig with a No. 11 Uncle Josh pork frog or 4" Gene Larew Salt 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. I like to use black/blue, pumpkin pepper green flake or camoflage with a black or olive green trailer, if the water is fairly clear. If the water looks a little off color, try a black/blue jig with a solid chartreuse trailer, you may get surprised. Since I am usually fishing fairly thick cover, I usually use 20 or 25 pound clear premium monofilament. I usually use a 8'0" heavy action All Star flipping rod (model FRH8) for most of my jig work. Also, I use like to use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release.

This month is going to be the Houston Boat Show at the AstroHall/Astroarena Complex on Jan. 7th thru the 16th (Thurs. thru Sun.). Come by and see me at the Lake Livingston Area Tourism Council booth or the Lakecaster booth in the AstroArena. Also I'll be giving bass fishing seminars on Wed. Jan. 13th at 7:30 pm and on Sat. Jan 16th at 1:00 pm in the AstroHall. The subject of these seminars is going to be "Spring Bass Fishing on Lake Livingston." Come by and visit, 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 (409) 327-1932. Don't forget, a guide trip makes an excellent present that will provide memories for years to come.

Until next month, may God bless you and yours.

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