John's Journal...


How to Fish the Jigging Spoon in Deep Structure

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: You can have your cake and eat it too. Charlie Ingram, a bass fisherman on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama, on the Georgia/Alabama border, practices catch and release when he fishes for bass. But he also takes home a mess of crappie for the skillet on almost every outing. Ingram has developed a technique for bass fishing that allows him to catch big bass and large crappie at the same time. The bass go in his back livewell, and he shows them to his buddies at the marina before he releases them. He puts the crappie he catches in his front livewell and never opens it until he arrives at home. Then he takes the speckled sides out to fillet. While fishing a jigging spoon at almost any time of the year, Ingram catches crappie weighing 3/4-pound to 2-pounds each. Also when fishing a jigging spoon in these same places, Ingram takes bass weighing 2- to 10-pounds each.

To take bass and crappie in submerged structure, put your jigging spoon where the fish can see it. Make sure you don't spook the fish while trying to catch them. When you fish the 3/4-ounce jigging spoon in submerged trees and stumps, the hooks may get hung in the wood. Also, because of the sharp hooks and heavy bait, a crappie often can shake the bait free from its lips before you can get the fish to the boat.

Click to enlarge"I began to look at the lips of the crappie and bass that I brought up out of the water when I first started fishing the jigging spoon," Ingram said. "I realized the sharp hooks sliced large cuts in the crappie's mouth, often allowing the fish to get away." To solve this problem, Ingram took the file he normally used to sharpen his hooks and passed it over the points of each of the treble hooks, dulling the points slightly. Now when he set the hook, it would punch a hole through the lip of the fish instead of making a large cut. When the fish fought against the lure, and the heavy jigging spoon started to fall away from the fish's mouth, the barb would catch on the side of the hole that the hook had punched instead of falling out of the gash a sharp hook would cut.

"I also noticed that by dulling the points I not only caught more bass and crappie but didn't lose as many jigging spoons as I'd lost in the past," Ingram explained. "The hooks didn't go as deep into the wood when they got hung. I just had to jiggle the bait on the slack line, and the weight of the hook would pull the lure out of the wood." Ingram fishes a 3/4-ounce jigging spoon on 17- to 20-pound test line. "You need abrasion resistant line when you fish in thick cover like the kind where I fish," Ingram advised. Ingram uses a standard bait-casting rod and reel to fish the jigging spoon for both bass and crappie.

Slow Dip, Don't Jerk:

Click to enlargeThe first time I fished the jigging-spoon tactic with Ingram I let the spoon free-fall from the surface through the cover. Then I used short jerks to get the spoon to jump up and fall back. After hanging the cover three times in succession and losing three spoons, I heard Ingram say, "Watch how I let the spoon down, John." Pointing his rod at the water, Ingram kept his thumb on the reel as the spoon began to fall. "Don't let the spoon free-fall," Ingram instructed. "Instead, lower it gently down into the cover, because many times the bass and crappie will hold above the cover and will hit the spoon before it gets to the wood. By keeping your thumb on the spool of the reel, you can stay in constant contact with the spoon. If a fish hits, you can apply pressure with your thumb to the line to set the hook. If the fish doesn't attack as soon as your spoon touches the wood, you'll want to stop the line and try and move the spoon off the limb or branch it's touched. Then it can continue to fall all the way to the bottom. As you bounce the spoon off the limb on its descent to the bottom, keep your thumb on the spool. If you get a hit, you can apply pressure to the spool and set the hook."

Once Ingram's spoon gets through all the limbs and to the bottom of the lake, he continues to point his rod tip at the water, locks his reel in gear and raises the spoon 2 to 3
inches off the bottom. Next he slowly and gently raises and lowers his rod tip about six to eight inches at a time. "You want the spoon to move straight up and straight down very slowly, just as if you've put an iced-tea spoon down into a glass and brought it straight up," Ingram said. "I don't give the spoon much action at all. However, the bass and crappie can and will attack the spoon when you use this technique."

Click to enlargeBy slowly moving the heavy spoon up and down, you also will have the advantage of thoroughly working all the water depths and every piece of cover through which the spoon passes. If the hooks on the spoon touch a limb, you can stop the spoon, shake it and let it fall back. The weight of the spoon will pull the hook out of the cover. After Ingram has moved his spoon up and down for about 30 to 40 seconds, he'll take three or four slow turns on his reel to raise the spoon off the bottom and begin slowly lifting and lowering his rod tip. Next he'll reel up three or four turns on the reel and continue to work the spoon all the way back up to the surface.

"Since you don't know exactly at what water depth the fish hold and where the fish have positioned themselves in or over the cover," Ingram mentioned, "by using this jigging-spoon tactic of raising and lowering my rod tip, I can present a slow-moving bait at every water depth. By going back and forth over the water several times from different directions, I can work each part of the tree, bush or stump from every direction of the compass." If a fish holds anywhere on the cover Ingram fishes, Ingram usually can present his jigging spoon to cause the fish to attack.



Check back each day this week for more about DOUBLE DIPPING SPOONS

Day 1: Where to Fish in the Summer
Day 2: How to Find Cover
Day 3: How to Fish the Jigging Spoon in Deep Structure
Day 4: How to Use a Satellite
Day 5: What About Pesky Bass



Entry 302, Day 3