Finesse Jigging the Sonic BaitFish™

As featured in the May issue of the Mack Attack Magazine. Click here to subscribe for free!

It was six years ago when I first got into kayak fishing.  With some help of local anglers, I taught myself how to fish for cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, lake trout and Kokanee in lakes close to my home in Seattle.  My experience has taught me that trolling with lead core line is a great way to cover a large area of water to locate fish in the upper part of the water column.  However, there are those times in the summer and fall when fish are holding deeper than the my line can reach. Faced with the dilemma of not wanting to install a downrigger on my kayak, I would have considered any fish 60 to 100 feet a missed opportunity.  That was until I tried finesse jigging.

 

First and foremost, there’s the wind.  When it comes to jigging avoid windy day forecasts. You’re going to be most effective when you can stay right on top of the fish.  Heavy chop on the water is going to make it hard to feel strikes.  If the wind picks up, point the nose of your kayak towards the wind.  A Hobie MirageDrive I personally find essential in that I can keep my rod steady and keep my kayak in position.

 

Have faith in your electronics.  A color fish finder will typically illustrate better than a black and white screen.  When I come to a spot on the lake where my fish finder is telling me that fish are holding deep in the water column or right smack down on the bottom; dropping a jig down can often turn a fish-less day into multiple hook ups.

 

Depending on the time of year, fish will fluctuate at which depth they stage.  Temperature, oxygen level and food all play role.  Trout and Kokanee salmon generally like temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees.  If you’re marking multiple fish at a certain depth, then you have probably found the right thermocline.  Though small electronic devices like the Fish Hawk can be trolled or lowered down into the water and will accurately tell you the temperature every 5 feet and how deep you are in the water column.  

 

The gear.  I have found a 7 foot medium to medium heavy rod with a sensitive tip to be enough to jig for trout.  Bait casting reels have their advantage as they are easier to free-spool and thumb the line as it drops through the water column.  A depth counter on your reel can help you get pretty close to the fish.  A spinning rod is also a viable alternative.  Braided line with a 12 to 15# monofilament leader I find to be more sensitive to feeling the must subtle strike.

 

The tackle. Do your research and find out what the trout in your area are feeding on and try to “match the hatch” with the appropriate color and bait size.  The weight of your jig can vary from a 3/8 ounce to 1 oz depending on how deep you’re fishing and if your kayak is drifting on top of the water.  

 

A fish suspended off the bottom won’t think twice about whacking a fluttering jigging spoon/ bar jig falling in front its face.  Lures like Mack’s Sonic Baitfish™ is a great jigging spoon that look like a wounded baitfish falling through the water column.  Spoons (because they are metal) are also easier to see on your fish finders.  There’s nothing more captivating than watching your lure drop in a zig zag motion on a fish finder and watching a fish grab it.

 

If you’re targeting big Mackinaw lake trout they spend much of their time laying right on the bottom or suspended just off the bottom.  Lead headed jigs slipped into a bass tube baits or a plastic fluke or shad tails threaded up the jig shank are better suited for fish directly on the bottom. Have a variety of colors and sizes available at your disposal depending on light conditions. Whites, greens and chartreuse are effective colors. I always have on hand one rod rigged with a 1/2 to 3/4 oz Sonic Baitfish and one with a tube jig.

 

The key to drawing a strike is “finesse jigging”. When you drop your line to the desired spot only lift the rod tip between 2 to 6 inches and allow it to drop before lifting the rod again. Anything faster will only spook the fish.  Most strikes will happen on the drop though I have had fish follow the lure on the retrieve. If you don’t get a strike after a couple of minutes, reposition yourself and drop again or move on  to the next area.

 

Finesse jigging for trout can not only be very rewarding but it also helps to break up a long day of trolling.

As featured in the May issue of the Mack Attack Magazine. Click here to subscribe for free!