Jigging to catch more trout

By: Cal Kellogg Courtesy
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In California, trout is a favorite game fish, and why not? They have a wide distribution and they are often free strikers. They will inhale baits, lures, and flies with equal zeal. When trout are in a vigorous feeding mode, they can be caught on a long list of baits and lures, but what about the times when the bite is off? About a decade ago, I stumbled on a lure that often draws strikes from fickle trout when nothing else will. I’m talking about jigs, but not just any jigs. More specifically, I’m talking about tube jigs … small 1-2.5 inch tube jigs that weigh from 1/8 to 1/32 of an ounce. These tiny tubes are intended for panfish, but I’ve found them to be dynamite when targeting trout that require a subtle presentation. When fishing lakes, I either cast and retrieve tube jigs on a light action 7-foot spinning rig spooled with 4-pound test line, or I team the jigs with a slip bobber for a super stealthy vertical presentation. When casting and retrieving jigs without a slip bobber I like to work around areas of shoreline structure such as rocky drop offs and fallen trees. Typically, I cast the lure out and count it down a few feet before I begin the retrieve. One of the key things to remember when retrieving a jig is not to overpower the lure. Give the lure a couple of light twitches and then wait a few seconds, and then twitch it a bit more. Most strikes occur as the jig sinks, so it pays to keep an eye on the line and set the hook if you see the line move in an unnatural way. When teaming tube jigs with a slip bobber it’s best to adjust the bobber stop so the lure comes to rest at a depth where trout are suspected to be cruising. This can vary from 5-50 feet deep, depending on the time of year and water temperature. When working at depths beyond 15 feet, it may be necessary to add some extra weight to the rig with slip shot, 16-24 inches above the jig, to get it down. Working a jig beneath a slip bobber is pretty simple. Start out by dead sticking the bait, without adding any action. If that fails to produce, start giving the jig some subtle movement by wiggling the tip of your rod on a semi-tight line. If that doesn’t produce, get more aggressive by slowly reeling the jig upward several feet before lowering it back down to its original depth on a semi-tight line. In terms of color selection I like to go with natural minnow imitating colors first, and if those fail, I’ll deploy the bright colored stuff. This article comes courtesy of Fish Sniffer Magazine, Northern California’s source for fishing information for over 30 years. For a complimentary copy call (800) 748-6599.