"Jighead Craze for Lanier's Spotted Bass" By Ryan Coleman
Now that summer is finally here and the water temperature has reached the mid 80's, anglers will be looking for effective ways to fish deep structure for Lanier's Spotted Bass. There are numerous techniques and baits to work deep points, docks and offshore humps.
But for me, the best way to entice a Spotted Bass is with a finesse worm rigged on a jighead. Jighead fishing is not a new technique. It has been around for many years.
Recently, some manufactures have fine-tuned the jighead to make them more efficient for larger fish. The main change has been in the hooks. Newer designs have replaced the small hooks with 3/0 and 4/0 hooks with larger gaps.
One of the first manufactures to offer the new design jighead was Donnie Sims and Glenn Hamer of D&G Spotsticker Baits (www.spotsticker.com). The Spotsticker has been catching monster spotted bass all across the Alabama lakes for years. Recently, this craze has hit Lake Lanier. D&G offer a variety of sizes and hook combinations for their Spotsticker jighead. Hook sizes range from a 2/0 to a 4/0 and head weights range from 1/8th to 1/4 ounce.
I typically use the 1/8 and 3/16 ounce sizes with the Eagle Claw 570 wide gap hook in 4/0 size. As far as baits go, any small plastic bait will work on the Spotsticker. I have used small crawfish, tubes, flukes, grubs and straight worms. I personally rely on a ZOOM 6" finesse worm for the majority of my jighead fishing on Lanier. On Sunny days or clearer water, I prefer a Sand, Watermelon Seed or Ice colored bait while on overcast days or in off colored water, I prefer Green Pumpkin or Redbug colors. Rigging the ZOOM finesse worm on your Spotsticker is very simple. Start out by inserting the hook into the head of the worm. Thread the worm on the hook 1/2 of an inch. Bring the hook out of the finesse worm on the flat side of the bait. Now slide the worm up the shank of the hook, rotating the worm 180 degrees. Then put the hook back into the flat side of the worm. I usually go all the way through the worm then pull the hook back till it is inside the worm to keep it weed-less.
There is always discussion on whether the worm should be straight or a little bent on the hook. I actually prefer the worm with a little kink in it. You will have to experiment with both ways to determine which way is better for you. Keep in mind that this is a finesse bait and works best in clear water.
It should always be worked on the lightest equipment possible. For Lake Lanier, I fish the jighead on a 6-foot medium action spinning rod with 8-pound test line. I prefer a St Croix Avid series medium action spinning rod with a Shimano Biomaster 2000 spinning reel. Light line is crucial for the action of the jighead. I spool my spinning reels with 8-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line.
Fluorocarbon line has a lot of features that benefit jighead fishing. It is a very low stretch line which offers great feel for deep finesse fishing, it has great abrasion resistance which allows you to work your bait in brush piles without worrying about damaging your line and it is completely invisible to fish. Fluorocarbon has been used for leader material by offshore fisherman for big game due to its invisible properties.
This is also great benefit for Lanier's deep clear water fish. Though many people may feel that a finesse worm rigged on a jighead is no different than a typical Texas-rig worm, I can assure you that it is. The biggest difference between the two is the direction the worm swims through the water.
A Texas-rig will offer a bait perpendicular to the bottom and a jighead will offer a bait parallel to the bottom. This is due to the line-tie being on the side of the jighead. This allows the bait to actually "swim" along the bottom when moved by the angler. It also adds great action while being worked vertically over deep structure. With the line-tie being on the side of the jighead and the hook always pointing up, you will hook your fish in the top of the mouth 95% of the time. This is exactly where you want to hook them. Hooking your fish in this part of their mouth makes it almost impossible for them to throw the hook.
This is also a big difference between the jighead and a Texas-rig. The sliding sinker on a Texas-rig acts as a counter weight for the fish once it is hooked and helps it throw your hook. During summer months, I prefer to work the jighead on main lake rocky points, deep brush piles and floating boat docks with deep water present. Work the bait as you would a typical Texas-rig dragging and hopping the bait along the bottom approximately 18 inches at a time. Let it set on the bottom for a few seconds them move it again. Vary your retrieve until the fish let you know how they want it presented. The majority of the time, they will pick up the bait while it "swims" back to the bottom. A straight overhead hook set will work best in most instances. Using a low stretch line, such as the fluorocarbon, will give you a much better feel in the deep water and allow for a much better hook set. Selecting the right boat dock to fish is somewhat of a task. I prefer docks that have a minimum of 20 feet of water under them.
Main lake docks will usually be deeper and offer a lot of shade during the hot summer months. Pitch the bait along both sides of the docks making sure to get the bait as close to the docks as possible. Make sure to thoroughly work the open boat slips with numerous presentations. Most boat docks will have some type of bottom structure around them. Probe out each dock from front to back. Also work the fronts of the docks. Some of the biggest spotted bass will be caught this way. Now that summertime has finally arrived, we will all be looking for effective ways to catch Lanier's deep Spotted Bass.
Though there are numerous ways to achieve this, the Spotsticker is one of the most consistent baits I have ever used. If you have never tried jighead fishing, give the Spotsticker a try.
I am sure you will catch the craze.
Ryan Coleman LanierSpots Pro Guide Service