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WINTER PATTERNS/JIGGING SPOON

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Hello, Anglers. I'm getting lots of requests for Christmas gift ideas from family and friends of fishermen. There are numerous, high quality new products on the scene which should make anglers in happy. One of the hottest items this year is Abu Garcia's Revo low-profile reel series. Revo Series reels have from nine to eleven bearings, one piece aluminum side covers, Carbon Matrix Drag system, over-sized main gears on some models and the upper level models have Titanium nitride wormshafts and Eversilk coated pinion shaft and pawl.

These reels weigh only 8.7 ounces and are very durable. I have four Revos and have been using them since February and have not had one failure from any of them and I fish them often and hard. They cast like a dream and handle big fish extremely well. Gear ratios are from 6.4 to 1 on several models with optional 7.1 to 1 on two of the series.

For the saltwater angler, there is the Revo Inshore model with stainless steel components and extra line capacity of 175 yards of 12 pound test. Yet this version only weighs 8.68 ounces. The retail price ranges of the entire Revo series range from $110 to $259. I own 2 of the SX-HS model ($159) as well as 2 of the STX-HS ($199). Anglers/shoppers should be able to find these reels in local retail tackle outlets.

FISHING IN DECEMBER:

Many readers may ask, "do people actually fish in December?" What some are actually thinking is "are there people crazy enough to fish in the winter time?" Yep! Count me in as one of those "touched" fishing fanatics. It may surprise a bunch of folks that I actually prefer winter angling over summer. Some of the reasons being less boating/fishing pressure, absence of 95-100 degree weather and we usually catch bigger fish. Also, our winters in Louisiana and central/southeast Texas are normally very mild in comparison to some of our northern states.

WINTER FISHING PATTERNS:

As water temperatures fall into the 50s, I fish a lot of crankbaits, slow-rolling spinnerbaits as well as jigs. In addition, on the mid and southern portions of Toledo, the water is normally very clear which lends itself beautifully to a lot of vertical presentations with jigging spoons and drop shot rigs. I have been a fan of jigging spoons for 20-25 years and have used them on south Toledo to catch hundreds of bass in cold weather. For most situations, I use a custom made spoon which is about 5/8 of an ounce and attach a #4 Daiichi's Death Trap treble hook. This is a very high carbon hook and is super sharp which is vital in jigging a spoon. Retired Army Col. Ralph Moffett, who lives on south Toledo, is a recent convert to Daiichi's Death Trap hooks. Col. Moffett is the best spoon fisherman I have ever encountered and there is no way of knowing the numbers of bass he has taken on this method. Moffett, who designs and makes his own spoons, is also a strong advocate of catch and release.

A jigging spoon is nothing but a slab of lead with a treble hook attached. However, when this is lowered into the depths of a deep, clear lake and bounced off the bottom, it can become a very effective tool for catching fish. I catch most of my spoon fish in depths of 25 to 40 feet. I have caught them as deep as 55 feet but 33-38 feet is where I fish most of the them.

WHEN TO SPOON FEED:

As far as time of the year, I like from mid- November through January as prime months but a spoon will catch bass 12 months out of the year but different presentations are needed in warmer months. Let's consider only cold water patterns in this report. Ideal jigging spoon days are usually just the opposite of traditional bass patterns. Best spoon days are often just behind a cold front with bright skies and high barometric pressure. This puts lots of bait fish (shad) and bass on the bottom.

If bass are not holding on the bottom, they are very difficult to 'pattern'. After a cold front has past and weather starts to moderate after a few days, the jigging spoon is normally not as effective. When this happens, bass will often come up off the bottom and suspend making them much more difficult to catch. So, I like a bright, high pressure day.

JIGGING SPOON TOOL TIME:

I have personally tried numerous rod/reel/line combinations for deep water spooning and feel my current set-up is the most effective I have used to date. It includes Berkley's new Fluorocarbon line in 15 pound test which is transparent and has great sensitivity to feel subtle strikes common to cold water spooning. It also possesses super knot strength and is very resistant to abrasions. The rod selection in spooning is vitally important and my spoon is hanging on Fenwick's Techna AV 7 foot baitcast with medium fast action.

This rod helps me to feel everything my spoon is doing and has quick response at hook set with plenty of backbone to fight a big fish. It also has enough flex to keep a big bass from pulling off at the boat. My experience is that a heavy action rod is not ideal for spoon fishing as it has no give/flex when a big fish makes a run with very little line out. As far as reels, I am using a Abu Garcia Revo STX.

The quality of this reel leaves little to be said. One thing that one does in vertical jigging is engage the reel and allow the spoon to free-fall to the bottom. I know of no reel on the market which spins more freely when engaged. There you have the basics in spooning. Another thing about vertical jigging a spoon, you catch numerous species of fish including largemouth bass, spotted bass, yellow bass, white bass, striper, crappie, bream as well as an occasional big catfish. Sounds like a buffet, huh?

Joe Joslin Outdoors
Licensed Guide on Toledo Bend & Sam Rayburn
Tournament Angler & Outdoor Media
Member: Louisiana Outdoor Writers Assoc.& Southeastern Outdoor Press Assoc
160 Country Lane, DeRidder, LA 70634

Phone: (337) 463-3848
E-Mail: JoeJoslinOutdoors@yahoo.com