Go Vertical for Cold Water Fishing
With the cold water temps of winter upon us, we know that oxygen is now carried down into varying levels or depths of a lake allowing fish to go into these deeper areas. This crisp late fall air that signals the approach of winter, also signals many anglers to hang up their fishing gear,
but to us it sends the signal to change fishing techniques and presentations which often includes vertical fishing, which worked during summer, will now also work once it turns cooler.
I am sure we have all vertical fished for Crappie with a jig and minnow over a brush pile; in fact, we did it in late fall few years ago and will talk about that trip later. The one deadly lure we will talk most about may be found in most anglers tackle box but rarely used, it is the jigging spoon.
The jigging spoon is our specialty bait for deep fish when water temps dip to 60 and below, when fish are schooling, although when fishing is tough we may pull out a jigging spoon year round. Equipment includes ultra-sensitive rod, good quality line, a ball-bearing swivel, a variety of sizes or colors of spoons and good electronics to help locate schools of essential baitfish. By using a swivel to prevent line twist, we find you can remove the split ring from the spoon. We will usually use 10 pound line but go to a little heavier line in deep water to get a better hook set and Linda prefers to use Fireline because it gives her a better feel and the no stretch for good hook sets.
You want a spoon that flutters on the fall with a profile of a shad. Size depends on depth when jigging spoons; in shallow water, use a smaller lighter spoon such as a 1/2 oz and if in deeper water, such as channel drops, use a larger spoon 1 oz to 1 1/2 or even a 2 oz if real deep. Colors can vary, but we find silver with white or chartreuse to be best with a bucktail or crystal dressed treble for added attraction.
A presentation that works for us is to first, free spool the spoon to the bottom and reel up slack line. Now lift your rod tip couple feet and while maintaining a tight line, let the spoon fall back to the bottom. Since most strikes will occur during the fall it is important to keep the line fairly tight to detect the strike. Get into a cadence of something like a - jerk, jerk drop and changing how much you lift from a few inches to 3-5 feet until you find what the fish want. Fish do not hold on long, therefore it is important to keep contact with your spoon and set the hook if you feel anything different. Pay attention to how far you drop to the bottom and if your line goes slack early, set the hook. On windy days, boat control is key to staying over hot spots with the trolling motor.
Some of the best areas are those having access to deeper water including ledges, drop-offs, breaks off flats, humps, long tapering points and creek channels. Topo maps help pinpoint these areas and we find channels bends are good spots and I like the inside curves. Look for stumps, timber or brush as good spot to catch Crappie and we notice active or bigger fish can be on top of brush or deep water side. Just remember to stay little above them.
As for our fishing trips to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas in October - November, we caught Walleye on jigging spoons and some nice Crappie (with one almost 16 inch) vertical jigging deep brush piles.
Vertical fishing (jigging) allows you more accuracy to fish these structures and schools of fish. We have caught most species like Bass, Bluegill, Catfish, Crappie, Stripers, Walleye and WhiteBass on jigging spoons and have even vertical fished Tailspin lures too. Nothing can imitate the erratic moves of a wounded baitfish like jigging spoons making them a deadly technique for catch fish during late fall and winter, Give Them A Try.
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Till Next Time - GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING !