This will be the first in a series of jigging articles. We had a request from a member who knows shallow water jigging but wanted to know more about the deep clear water lakes and reservoirs. Joe and Emily from Jigmonster.com
were kind enough to send this article our way
Deep water jigging is one of the most important tools at your disposal in the west.
Deep, rocky, clear water impoundments like Sonoma, Berryessa and Oroville are all places where deep water jig fishing dominates the tournament scene in the winter and summer seasons.
In the winter focus on main lake points where fish will move from 50-60 ft to 30 ft once or twice a day to feed. For this style of fishing I recommend employing a 7’, extra fast action graphite rod with 15 lb. fluorocarbon line, as you will need to set the hook very hard to make up for the extreme depth and line stretch that goes with it. Typically football head jigs in the ¾ or 1 oz size in simple dark colors are best. Colors like brown, brown/orange, brown/purple, black or black/red will get the job done at these depths much better than the lighter colors.
In the winter the fish are extremely sluggish so very little action is needed to bring these baits to life. You want to get the bait down to the bottom and then let the drifting boat drag the jig along the bottom, occasionally disrupted by the odd shake or slight list of the rod tip. At that depth it is inefficient to fish a bulky trailer as it will take too long to get to the bottom, so a double tail grub or #11 pork frog is the better choice. The bite may be hard to detect and may only feel like a mushy weight that can be pulled off the bottom, so it is important to give the fish a second to eat the bait before setting the hook.
In the summer large concentrations of fish will pull out and deep to the same places, although not quite as deep as in winter and can again be targeted with the jig. As far as line and rods go, the same set up will suffice. If bait fish are present expand your color selection to include the lighter colors like white, sexy shad, tilapia, chartreuse etc.
While active summer fish will blast a jig dragged slowly across the bottom, inactive summer fish can be suckers for a jig ripped up high off the bottom and right in front them. They will blast the fast moving jig as a reaction bait when they might not have taken the bait fished slowly. Typically these fish will be suspended 4 or 5 feet off the bottom.
During both the summer and the winter another great deep jig bite can be found when fish suspend at some level on standing timber. These fish can be caught by dropping the jig to the base of the tree and then slowly shaking the bait for a minute then cranking the jig up 2 or 3 turns and shaking it again. Simply spend a minute shaking that bait every 3 cranks like you are checking each floor of a skyscraper.
The deep water jig is a powerful tool, and at it is best under tough conditions so remember to take good care of these fish by knowing how to “pop” them to release the pressure in their bellies, and taking your time to bring them to the surface. There is nothing worse than fishing a January event and seeing that after everyone has trailered up and gone home, there are dozens of stiff, bloated bass floating at the launch ramp.
The best thing about fishing with jigs at any depth is the fact that they are a pure manual action bait. That means you are in the driver’s seat and can bring all sorts of different approaches to its use. We are no longer “cubby-holed” by strict rules and limits that have been set in the past. Statements like “jigs are only for cold water, or “jigs are only meant to imitate crayfish” no longer apply.
In the past couple of years tournament anglers have started to realize that there are all kinds of different ways to use these baits and more and more tactics are coming to light each year. For example:
* Swimming a jig in spinnerbait colors with a single tail grub trail across skinny, weedy water where the water levels have fallen too low to allow the use of spinnerbaits.
* Burning a heavier swim jig paired with a soft plastic toad as a trailer across the surface and over mats like you would a frog or buzzbait.
* Bed fishing a football head jig with a long white skirt and no trailer like the one that caught “Dotty”, the 25 pounder at lake Dixon.
When it’s all said and done, no matter how much we focus and study these tactics and others like them, with the goal of sticking more and bigger fish, it’s all about having fun and sharing that fun with our friends and family of all ages. Good Luck from Joe and Emily at jigmonster.com