Jigging For Deep Water Winter Bass
Written By: Kent Brown, March 12, 2012 Species: Bass,
One of the questions I always ask in my seminars at the ISE shows or at bass club talks, is how many people in the crowd have ever caught a bass deeper than 40 feet. You would be surprised at the extremely low number of people that raise their hands. I would venture to guess that less than 5 percent of the people in any of the crowds have ever raised their hands and when you start talking about 50 or 60 feet of water the number gets even lower.
Bass fishermen are always comfortable casting at a target like a stump, piling, tree, rock or anything they think a bass may live on, but tell them they have to fish underwater structure sometimes hundreds of yards off the bank and they have a meltdown. One of the things anglers often miss out on is using a heavier jig head than they are used to. My two favorite weights in jigs are ¾ and 1 ounce when I am fishing deep water structure.
Many anglers overlook fishing a jig in the fall and winter months. Often they think that when the weather and water temperature get cold the bite gets tough and they have to scale down to a dropshot or darthead, this is the farthest thing from the truth. That theory works well for largemouth when winter hits, but spotted bass continue to feed.
We all have jigs in our tackle box that we flip on Clear Lake or the delta like the Berkley Jay Yelas Power Jig and these usually have a 5/0 heavy duty hook and a weed guard to keep you from getting hung up. These jigs are only a cousin to the jigs you should be fishing in deep water. We normally flip a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig and these are light compared to my deep water jigs.
As I said earlier my favorite is a 3/4 ounce football head jig with a 4/0 Gamakatsu light wire hook, without a weed guard. I will fish the 1 ounce jig but I choose the 3/4 ounce model more often. The light wire hook is the key to a deep water jig, the lighter wire hook penetrates easier than the heavier hooks we find on our flipping jigs and in deep water you can still stick a fish while using 10 to 15 pound test line. I use painted jig heads on all my jigs and often add some glitter in red or purple to add a bit of color to the jigs. I never use a shiny lead jig head on my deepwater jigs. You can get the powder coat paints at Fisherman’s Warehouse or other pro shops and it is very easy to use. You heat the jig head with a torch or candle, dip it and it’s done.
I fish with a variety of skirts and trailers, but I usually will fish a Yamamoto double tail Hula Grub in green pumpkin or cinnamon/purple. The other jig I fish a great deal when the water gets below 50 degrees is a live rubber jig with a pork trailer. Many anglers have gotten away from pork but I still use a great deal of it in the winter months. My primary colors in rubber jigs are brown/purple with purple pork or all purple. I usually fish the Super Pork tadpole.
I never seem to have enough time to tie my own jigs anymore. One of the best jigs I have found in stores is the Bass Patrol football head jig. They have a quality hook and come in all the good deep water sizes including the one ton jig. My two favorite colors are brown and brown/purple. Finding the old style jigs with flat live rubber is next to impossible, as this product has disappeared in the U.S. I have gained a great deal of confidence in the jigs with light round rubber skirts and that’s good since they are the only ones we can find at the tackle stores these days.
There are so many good jig trailers such as twin tails, single grub trailers, craws, and pork that it is hard to decide what to use at times. I always think of my jig as a crawdad and I want to imitate one crawling along the bottom of the lake. It doesn’t matter what lake you fish here in California it will have a population of crawdads and they are always a mainstay on the menu for Mr. Bass.
My rod, reel and line selection are also very important. I usually fish 12 pound Berkley Big Game line on my jigs with a Lamiglas 724 Senko Special rod and Pflueger President reel with a 6:1 gear retrieve. I will drag my jig more than hop it or swim it, usually with my trolling motor keeping it on the bottom. In the winter months don’t be afraid to fish that jig from 40 to 80 feet deep, it is easier than you think and you will be able to feel the jig with a quality graphite rod. You are going to lose some jigs fishing on the bottom like this so be prepared and don’t get frustrated. Remember the crawdads live on the bottom and keeping your jig down where they live will result in more fish this fall and winter.