St Simons Island Fishing Report 3/7/15

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wintertime tactics-the art of the jig....

The jig may possibly be one of the oldest and simplest fishing tools ever created.  The jig was so reliable that many armed forces survival kits included a buck-tail jig with some line.  The reason was simple, they work.  Whether tipped with hair or nylon like the original buck-tails, or one of today's many different colored and shaped soft plastics, the jig's versatility is virtually unmatched.  The jig (or jig head) can cover essentially every depth of water you will encounter.  Jigs are weighted from as small as 1/32 oz on up to 1/2 lb of lead poured over a hook.  For our purposes, we'll discuss options that are suitable for fishing inshore saltwater. 

Wintertime fishing for reds and trout here in coastal Georgia can be challenging.  When the water temperatures drop below 52 degrees, I turn almost exclusively to the jig.  I typically use 1/8, 3/16, 1/4, or 3/8 oz weights, using as light as I can get away with and still feel the bite and what the lure is doing.  The speckled trout and red bass typically school very tight during the coldest periods of the year.  Fortunately, the marshes along the Georgia coast offer many great places for these game fish to hide.  The trick is to present a bait to these often lethargic fish so as they will eat it.    As a rule, most of our inshore species hug the bottom part of the water column.  This is especially true in the winter, as they seek a warmer environment.  Hence, the jig.  The jig is the perfect weapon to get into their feeding zone. 

The techniques used for jigs are as varied as the weights and color combinations that you can use.  For now, we'll discuss wintertime presentations, which as a rule are generally slower.  My typical presentation is to bump the bottom in very small 1" hops, often stopping to pause before continuing on.   It is critical that you feel your jig making contact with the bottom.  Another variation of this retrieve is to slowly lift the rod tip and drag the jig, much as you would a plastic worm when bass fishing.  Sometimes I will hop the jig 6" to 12" and let it fall with the pause. This often will trigger a strike as it imitates a dying bait.  Additionally it may make your bait be more visible and readily seen, especially in deeper water as the small hops may not get you out of the silt or soft bottom.  These presentations work equally as well for both redfish and sea trout.  The re-occuring theme here is to slow down your presentation.

I would like to add - in the perfect world - I'm fishing the lower stages of the tide.  I will target the trout in deeper holes and redfish on the shallower mudflats.  A trick that works well for me on lethargic redfish is to dead stick, or just shake one of the new scented baits (Gulp or FishBites). This, as the description sounds, requires leaving the jig in one place.  Trust me, if you know the redfish are there-this will often trigger a strike.  This leads us to the strike.  The strike is usually not a strike at all, but a small tick, tap or pressure on your jig.  The real key here is to watch your line, as often the bite will be so subtle that you may only see your line move or jump a little.  On any of these occurrences, set the hook sharply, firmly and immediately.

Locating fish is an entire discussion of its own, and will be the subject of a later blog.  I would suggest that when winter fishing, you do not stay in any one spot more than 10 minutes if you are not catching fish.  My personal preference is to stay on the trolling motor and cover a lot of water.  If you do not have a trolling motor, you may have to re-anchor several times during the day to locate fish.

I personally think that it is critical to use a quality jig that has a premium paint and a black nickel hook.  I use a jig made by Slayer Inc.  The Slayer Inc jig head comes in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes that  will match any soft plastic you choose.  I usually experiment with different shapes and colors of plastics to see what the fish like.  Among the choices are minnow imitating paddletails, fluke style straight-bodies, and the old reliable, curly tail.  Typically I match the color of the head to the color of the body, but have also used contrasting colors as well.  That being said, I personally think many of the lure colors are made for fishermen and not for the fish.  I tend to stick to the more natural hues, including tans, browns, dark greens, greys and occaisonally something in a gold.  Slayer Inc's wide color selection helps me in making proven, successful color combinations.  I'd like to add that the double barb also holds your plastic from slipping down after repeated casts and hook ups.

When jig fishing, the rod and reel are very important.  I prefer a 7' - 7.5' high quality graphite rod.  I like a medium to medium heavy rod blank with a fast tip.  I like a reel that can handle small diameter braided line (10-20 lb test).  I use a flourocarbon leader (also 10-20 lb test) between 18" and 30" and always use a loop knot on my jigs.  This set up will provide you the sensitivity you need when jig fishing.   

Tip of the day:  I know I've mentioned this before, but try to bring your jig with the current and try to eliminate any bow in your line by casting directly into the wind, or having the wind directly at your back.  You can also lower your rod tip if the wind is not cooperating to eliminate the wind drag on your line. The idea is that you maintain constant contact with your lure, because the bite this time of year is usually very light. 

Get yourself a pair of Under Armor Base Layer, because you won't know if you don't go....

Capt. Tim Cutting
Coastal Georgia Inshore Charters
St Simons Island, Georgia

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim,
    I use to use a jig a lot. But I have never learned how to fish them in grass without collecting a lot of it and with the advent of the weighted hooks that can be rigged weedless I have found less and less reasons to use a jig. Your thoughts?
    Capt. Mike