Get small. Get slow. Get subtle! Diminutive jig-n-pig combinations catch winter bass when nothing else will.
Baby, it’s cold outside and time to get your last licks in on the local bass population!
Here in Northern Illinois, we’ve already had a solid freeze that was followed by an almost complete thaw during last week’s run of warmer weather. For some of us, that meant one more chance to tease a strike out of open water bass before year’s end.
I came up empty at my first stop, but caught a bass on my very first cast at the next. My bait? A finesse jig and little pig!
Classic Cold Weather Combo
With water temperatures in the low 40s and 30s, a bass’s metabolism slows to a crawl. At times, nothing will catch them but a painfully slow presentation with a lure that looks and feels alive even in a near still-life mode.
Welcome back the deadly jig-n-pig combination!
Yes, a jig with pork rind trailer will catch fish even in the cold, cold pre-ice conditions that northern anglers encounter as they chant the countdown to season’s end.
Pork trailers have clear advantages over plastic in the cold. They are more buoyant, allowing your lure to fall more slowly and move with more subtlety. They also hold scent better than plastics, and, if there’s a time when scent makes a difference, it is during the doldrums of winter!
But if you really want to tilt the table in your favor, leave your conventional jigs at home and grab a handful of light and compact “finesse” jigs. Try downsized jigs like the Booyah Baby Boo Bug or Pro Boo Bug, available in 3/16- and 5/16-ounce sizes or 1/4- to 3/8-ounce Kalin’s Bass Stalker jigs. But don’t hesitate to go with even lighter jigs like the Strike King Bitsy Bug Mini Jig in 1/16- to 1/8-ounce sizes or 1/8-ounce Nichols Mango Jig.
Get small on the trailer end, too. Sure, you may catch a big bass on a sizable pork trailer like your classic No. 11 Pork Frog but, for the kind of action that keeps you warm when ice is forming in your guides, choose the runts of the Uncle Josh pork litter. The Uncle Josh No. 101 and No. 101A Spinning Pork Frog has proven deadly for decades under cold water conditions. But often the relative newcomer, the Uncle Josh No. 18 Mini Frog Trailer, works even better.
The Mini Frog is tailored to finesse jig fishing. Its small, tapered head allows the bait to move effectively through sparse vegetation and other cover. At 1-1/2 inches in length and 3/4-inch wide, it is the smallest frog trailer in the Uncle Josh line, but the legs are elongated and slightly bent to give slight kick and movement even when the bait is at near rest…and it still has enough pork fat in the chunk body to deliver that needed buoyancy for the slow-mo fall that is so critical to ultra-cold water presentations!
The jig and “Mini” also catches smallmouth and spotted bass in the waters of our south central states all winter long.