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You can win big with a Jig during prespawn

Photo: BassFan

A football jig’s propensity to catch big fish makes it Josh Bertrand’s first choice.

by John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

You’ll get a lot of different answers from great tournament anglers when asked what the best hook is for pre-set events. For 2022 WON Bass US Open champion Josh Bertrand, the answer is a soccer jig.

“If not the best prespawn, it’s certainly one of the best times of the year to catch big fish,” said the affable MLF Bass Pro Tour competitor from Arizona. “The big women are trained and available and you get the biggest championship weights you’ll see all year.

“Football jigs are big-fish baits; they’re championship-winning baits that get big bites. It’s rare that you’re going to go up to a spot and catch 10 to 20 fish in a row that time of year, but you do. Keep your head down and fish five-a-day.” 10 bites, the quality is usually very good.”

In many countries, the scenario described by Bertrand occurs between February and March with water temperatures between 48 and 60 degrees. At least some largemouth populations in a given body of water will have begun their push from deep wintering grounds to the bank for the annual spawning rite.

If you find yourself in this situation, find a rock patch that you can fish in 10 to 25 feet.

“When the water is still that cold, a lot of fish focus is on the rock and the football jig is one of the best ways to fish the rock,” Bertrand said. “When things warm up the big rocks will hit more, but when it’s cold the crabs are (catching) and the smaller rock is the key to that. It has a lot of nooks and crannies for the crabs to get in and move around.”

At the prescribed depth, he likes a 3/4-ounce Berkley PowerBait jig in a crawfish-imitating color, such as brown or green-pumpkin/brown, as long as the water isn’t too dirty. If it’s a mud party, the fish will almost certainly be much closer to shore, which creates a completely different situation.

“I fish an ounce a lot in the winter, but as they get closer to the bank I drop to 1/2 or 3/4,” he said. “If I can get away with 3/4 and not get hung up all the time, I really like it. It will run along the bottom and kick up mud and dust and make more of a nuisance than a 1. / 2. It feels real.”

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Bertrand prefers a 3/4-ounce Berkley PowerBait jig in brown or a green-pumpkin/brown Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Chigger Craw with a trailer.

His trailer is almost always a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Chigger Craw in a green-pumpkin color. His other gear includes Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon lines, a 7’3″ Abu Garcia Fantasista X rod and an Abu Garcia Revo STX casting reel (8:1 gear ratio).

“The 15-pound line handles well on the reel and has great strength,” he said. “And you want to cast it on a fast reel. It’s something that’s often overlooked for deep-sea fishing, but if you imagine and 8:1 compared to a 6.6:1, you get each cast a few seconds faster. , that can add 20 casts to your day.”

While the reel should be fast, the movement of your jig while in the strike zone should be the exact opposite.

“Slow is the key – no jumps,” he said. “It stays down every second. Less is more.”

He drags the jig with the rod tip facing the water. If it’s hanging a lot, this can often be alleviated by lifting the tip a little.

“If the bait is down if you get a bite you’re in good hook position,” he said. “Also, the wind isn’t as much of a factor – there’s no slop on your line and it’s not going sideways.

“One more thing: If a fish hits the jig and feels like it’s missed, the worst thing you can do is reel it in. Often they’ll hit a crab to shock or injure it and come right back. .

“Leave it there and slow it down even more, then cast repeatedly into that area, see if you can get that fish out.”