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JIGGING FOR LATE SEASON LUNGE
By Loren Waalkens

If watching a bobber the size of a baseball bob around from the weight of a large sucker minnow is not your way of ending the musky season, than jigging rubber may be for you. Believe me, jigging is an extremely effective alternative to bait fishing. Before I get into the how to of jigging, let me tell you a story that happened to me and a friend of mine several years ago. We had been fishing one of our favorite musky waters every week from early to late fall, and had been having success on normal jerkbait presentations. About two weeks before the water got hard the fishing got harder. We spent the better part of two days pounding the daylights out of water that previous weeks held many fish. I fished weighted Suicks, Reef Hogs, Wades Wobblers, and every other jerkbait under the sun, and not even a follow to show for our efforts. By the second afternoon we both agreed it must be sucker time. WRONG!

In my musky box I had thrown a couple 3/8 ounce bass jigs and an assortment of rubber (lizards, reapers, shad, etc...) and out of frustration I thought that I would give one of them a try. I rigged up a reaper on a jig and gave it a toss. On my first cast I was rewarded with a nice fat 42-incher. Immediately my partner George rigged a similar set up and on his second cast he caught a 40-inch plus fish, thus removing all doubt that my first fish may have been a fluke. In the next 2 hours we boated 7 muskies, 5 of which were over 40 inches, with the largest being a heavy 45 inch fish. We basically fished the same water that we had pounded the previous two days. We spent the next few years refining our equipment and methods and we discovered many things.

I will begin with equipment. Any quality baitcasting reel that works for bass will be suitable for jigging musky, with the new super lines that are on the market now, line capacity is no longer a concern. For me the ideal jigging reel is an abu Garcia 5500c with the 6500 working equally as well.

As far as line goes it is hard to beat many of the new super lines in the 20 to 30 lb range. The smaller diameter lets your jig sink faster and it also cuts thru weeds better, they can make a musky rod seem as sensitive as your best walleye rod. It will enable you to detect the slightest bit of weeds on your line or jig, and with a good sharp snap of your rod tip you can usually pull away clean. It also allows for bone jarring hook sets. On the end of my line I attach an 8 inch stranded leader that is twisted not crimped.

For rods I prefer a 7 ft or 7 ft 6 in medium heavy bucktail rod, if you go with a lighter bass rod you will have a tough time getting good hook sets, even with super lines. Hook sets are more important than castability.

Now comes the important part - tackle. I have tried just about everything rubber that there is and I always come back to a 6 inch black lizard on a 3/8 ounce bullet head bass jig. I have tried the bigger 9-inch lizards but it seems like I miss a lot more fish with them. The jigs I use have a bristle weed guard and I will remove about 70 % of the bristles. I think that it ups my odds of good hookups.

To fish this combination I simply cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, then I will give it 3 or 4 pumps back towards the boat and then let it sink to the bottom again. There will be no doubt in your mind when a fish hits. It will be a walleye hit times ten. Unlike other musky baits the fish will be in no hurry to spit this out, allowing you time to reel up any slack line, and then set the hook as hard as you can. Hang on tight when you set the hook as I have had clients drop the rod in the water on the hook set. This set up from jig to reel has very little give.

As any real estate agent will tell you the three most important things are location, location, location, this is just as important when jigging for musky, thank heavens its easy to figure out. Once the weeds begin to die off the fish will relate to the nearest vertical structure. So concentrate your efforts on the sharp drops closest to the areas that you found fish on the previous weeks. If you locate any standing green vegetation close to these drops you have found a potential hot spot. You can have a lot of fish in a relatively small area this time of year, so if you locate a fish feel confident that there are several more in the immediate area. Once you have located several of these areas just keep hitting them throughout the day and eventually good things will happen.

Remember that everything stated here is tried and true for me. That is not to say that different combinations of rubber, jigs or equipment may work better for you. Half the fun of fishing is refining methods and equipment to fit your abilities and the water that you fish. So the next time that you are out after late season lunge, give jigging rubber a try, you will be pleasantly surprised. Just remember to let em go to let em grow.

Loren's Guide Service

 


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