Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

COMMON LURE FOR COOLER TIMES Learning to Dance a Jig Artificial Bait Attracts Reel Results

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

COMMON LURE FOR COOLER TIMES Learning to Dance a Jig Artificial Bait Attracts Reel Results

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Julavits, Times-Union outdoors editor

ST. AUGUSTINE -- Experience has shown that catching a fish on your first cast of the day usually means one of two things -- the kiss of death, i.e. you'll be skunked the rest of the day; or it's going to be a trip worth remembering.

For Glenn Swicegood and I, fishing a week ago Friday in the Intracoastal Waterway north of St. Augustine, it turned out to be one of those memorable mornings. It began with a bluefish smacking a topwater Chug Bug, followed by a 3-pound trout hitting the same lure, then a bluefish double on the plug -- one blue dangling from each treble hook.

More than 50 fish later, we called it quits and winched Swicegood's vintage Hewes Bonefisher back on the trailer before noon.

While topwaters accounted for several fish early in the day, everything else was caught on three/eighths-ounce, plastic-tailed jigs, probably the most versatile of artificial baits.

Pounding a shoreline with jigs is the angling equivalent of carpet bombing. When used in conjunction with a trolling motor, there's no more effective method for covering water and locating fish. Jigs are especially useful this time of year when cooling temperatures move fish to deeper water.

Until I met Swicegood years ago, I fancied myself a pretty fair jig fisherman. Watching him, though, is a lesson on the finer points. On the retrieve, Swicegood keeps his rod tip low to the water, allowing the jig to remain close to the bottom. The retrieve itself is determinedly slow, a few cranks on the reel handle followed by a hard snap of the wrist, imparting life to the lure.

More often than not, the strike will come after that wrist snap, when the jig is in temporary free fall. If it's a trout, particularly in cold water, the take is likely to be soft, just a tap. And if there's any slack in your line at that point, you've just missed a fish. Swicegood keeps a taut line throughout the crank-snap retrieval routine.

Being stubborn, I always start out with a chartreuse curly tail -- my favorite all-around color and shape -- when fishing with Swicegood. He won't throw anything but a dull pink curly tail, a hard-to-find color that looks like it has been faded by too much exposure to the sun. …

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