John's Journal...


Double Down With a Swimming Jig in the Fall

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: Longtime, nationally-known bass-fishing pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has proved to everyone in the bass-fishing world that he can catch bass year-round. VanDam's many wins and his title of Bassmasters Classic Champion attest to his ability to catch fish. VanDam says that during October and November, bass are keying in on baitfish, and in the South, bass are primarily feeding on shad. In the North in October and November, bass may be feeding on shad, perch or LYs. Because VanDam understands this, he fishes with baitfish-imitating lures these months. This week VanDam shares with us his five-favorite October and November bass patterns.

I like to swim a jig quite a bit when I'm fishing in thClick to enlargee fall, but I modify my jig to make it look like a bigger bait than it is by using a Strike King Denny Brauer 3X Plastic Chunk on the back of my jig. Water clarity determines the color of the jig and the chunk that I use. In clear water, I like to fish watermelon colors, a green/pumpkin jig with a green/pumpkin trailer or a watermelon-colored jig with a watermelon-colored trailer. I also like black-and-blue-colored jigs and trailers and also white jigs and trailers. When I'm fishing the white jig, I like the Bleeding Bait jig with a red weed guard and some red in the skirt.

Another technique I use when I'm fishing the white jig, especially the white Bleeding Bait, is instead of using the Denny Brauer 3X Chunk, I'll use a bleeding tube as a trailer. I believe the tube on the jig, instead of the chunk, makes the bleeding-bait jig look more like a baitfish. In October and early November, I'm still fishing the jig on my pitching rod with 20- to 25-pound-test line, depending on the cover I'm fishing. I like to swim the tube around trees laying in the waterClick to enlarge and around docks.

If you're fishing a lake that has a number of docks on it, this swimming-jig technique can be extremely deadly. I fish it around floating docks that have pontoons or Styrofoam to keep the dock above the water. I fish the swimming jig fairly quick. I like a 1/4-ounce or a 3/8-ounce jig, depending on the depth of the water that I'm fishing. In shallow water, I use the lighter jig, and in deep water, I'll use the heavier jig. When I cast the jig out, I'll start a steady retrieve. Then about every 6 inches that the jig moves through the water, I twitch the bait. I'm trying to swim that bait right along the edge of the dock just under the water or right along the edge of the tree. I fish the swimming jig the same way I fish a spinner bait, but the difference is the jig is a more-subtle presentation because it doesn't have flashing blades. Although most people call this style of fiClick to enlargeshing swimming a jig, I call this tactic spinner-baiting a jig, because I'm fishing the jig exactly like I will a spinner bait in the same places where I'll fish a spinner bait.

Although most of the time I'm swimming the jig in water from 0- to 5-feet deep, when I'm swimming the jig around docks, those floating docks may be in 20 feet of water. But the secret here is to swim that jig not more than 2 or 3 feet below the surface. Remember, even in deep water, the bass are looking up in that top 0 to 3 feet of water to see baitfish swimming. And those bass will come up from 20-feet deep around a dock to take the swimming jig that's passing through that top 0- to 3-foot depth. The jig is imitating a baitfish. So, when you're using the swimming-jig tactic, you want the lures to move through the depth of water that a baitfish normally holds in at this time of the year around cover.



Check back each day this week for more about MY FIVE FAVORITE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER PATTERNS WITH KEVIN VANDAM...

Day 1 - Bet On The Baitfish
Day 2 - VanDam's Second Choice for Clear-Water Fishing - The Wild Shiner Jerkbait
Day 3 - VanDam's Favorite Fall Tube Techniques
Day 4 - Double Down With a Swimming Jig in the Fall
Day 5 - Bet On The Top-Water Bite



Entry 271, Day 4