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The nuts and bolts of bass fishing

By DICK MARTIN • Jul 20, 2019 at 8:00 AM

I had a rather amazing phone call last week. Seems an Ashland angler's youngsters finally grew up and left home, so he had extra money at last to buy a bass boat and take up largemouth fishing with a vengeance. He'd read an article of mine on hot water bassing with interest, but was totally lost when I mentioned using a pig and jig.

"I called up a couple of sporting goods stores" he said, "but they had no idea, and I even tried Google with no success. Just what is a pig and jig?"

Of course, every serious bass fisherman doubtless has a dozen or more in his tackle box, but it occurs to me that many beginners and occasional anglers have no idea what various bits of basser jargon means. So, just for the record, a pig and jig consists of a jig, which is a hook with a lead head, and a piece of pork that's usually long and slender, with forked tail, or whatever. The pork strips often come in small glass bottles, usually Uncle Josh, but these days might be plastic imitations, too. Anyway, bass love them when they're cast nearly to shore, around rocks, tree stumps, and fallen timber, and slowly bottom bumped back to the boat.

Jigs, sometimes called doll flies, are one of the most versatile baits in any anglers tacklebox. Along Lake Erie, no serious smallmouth bass hunter would be on the water without a selection of a type called tube jigs. These are again a lead head and hook with a soft bodied tube that's finger shaped and usually has a few dozen thin plastic strips as a tail, "spider legs" some call them. Tube jigs are cast into likely shoreline structure or bumped along bottom over reefs, submerged ridges, holes, etc., and work just as well on inland lakes for largemouth bass.

Crankbaits are another term that might puzzle many, but basically they're simply lures that are cast out and cranked or reeled back to the boat or shore. There are literally hundreds of kinds of crankbaits, in every imaginable size, shape, and color, but only three types: lures that run shallow when retrieved, those that travel at medium depths, and those that go deep. Anglers should have a few of each of the three types, and have them in colors from chartreuse to crayfish brown to blue and silver.

Then there are spinnerbaits, a lure that should catch nothing since nothing that swims in any lake or stream looks remotely like them. But they're lethal. The typical spinnerbait is a jig head with plastic skirt, and a V shaped wire coming off its head that ends in a spinner or two placed directly above the jig head. In hot summer water they're often retrieved rapidly, so the spinner blades are just under the surface and burble and splash enticingly. Bass go nuts sometimes with this retrieve, especially around weed beds. But they're also cast along shorelines and beds of vegetation at various slower speeds that allow them to be retrieved shallow or deeper.

Plastic worms are familiar even among amateurs, hundreds of kinds and colors that might be 4 inch or 8, but are usually 6. They're hooked in one of several ways, but usually through the end of the head with the hook pulled through an inch or so down, and re-imbedded in the body. Most are fished with a bell shaped slip sinker that fits over the end of the head, and the key is to fish them SLOW. Cast to shore near good cover, let it sink to bottom, and retrieve at a crawl.

Finally, come surface baits, floating lures from old time Hula Poppers to modern day Pop-R's. I use them only when a lake shows some surface activity, bass swirling around weeds or shorelines, and bluegills popping for insects. You'll cast them out, let ripples widen, then lift your rod tip to make the lure splash. Retrieves should always be with plenty of tip action, and occasional stops. When they're taking surface offerings, fishing is almost spectacular. I love to see a several pound bass explode under a bait like a depth charge going off. And there's little doubt that you will, too.


Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at richmart@neo.rr.com. You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.



• The Ohio Wildlife Council has received several new fishing proposals from the Division of Wildlife. If approved, they'll take effect after Jan. 1. One proposal is to increase the number of lines per angler to three while fishing in Ohio's portion of Lake Erie including areas immediately upstream in creeks and rivers. On the Ohio River, it was proposed to reduce the combined daily bag limit of sauger, saugeye or walleye. And it was further proposed to move Ohio's free fishing days to Father's Day weekend annually. A complete list of proposals is available at wildohio.gov.

• In August, the Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation will host its third Learn-To-Hunt education program for both youth and adults. The free program takes participants from the classroom to the field and eventually a game dinner! Phase one and two, will launch Thursday, Aug. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Fairfield Fish and Game Association, 2270 Bickerel Church Road NW, Baltimore, Ohio where participants will learn the principles of hunting and firearm safety and skills. Phase three and four will take place on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club, Klopfenstein Road, Bucyrus. There'll be a pheasant hunt here and aid on cleaning and preparing a bird for the dinner table. For additional information, call 614-888-4868.

• The Ohio Division of Forestry invites the public to attend one of four regional open houses to learn more about management plans for Ohio's state forests. The open house nearest to us is at Findlay (Maumee and Mohican-Memorial state forests) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1 at the Findlay District Office, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. For more information, call 419-424-5004.

• Anyone interested in learning how to trap turtles is encouraged to attend a free informational workshop from 6 to 9 p.m. July 31 at the Oak Harbor Conservation Club, 12055 West Toussaint North Road, Oak Harbor. Experienced professionals from the Division of Wildlife and Oak Harbor Conservation Club will cover topics including net making, setting and pulling nets and baits. Season dates, regulations, and turtle cleaning and cooking will also be covered. The workshop is free of charge, but preregistration is required by July 29. Participants can register at https://apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/educationregistration/. The workshop will take place partially outdoors and participants are encouraged to dress for the weather and wear outdoor clothes and sturdy footwear. Bug spray and sunscreen are also recommended. Questions regarding the workshop can be directed to the Division of Wildlife District Two office at 419-424-5000. Turtle season is open July 1 to Dec. 31 and only snapping and softshell turtles may be taken. A valid Ohio fishing license is required to trap turtles. For more information or to purchase a license, visit wildohio.gov.

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