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Old 03-18-2009, 06:41 AM   #1
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Fishing In Current With Jigs

Fishing In Current With Jigs

My goal in this piece is to explain some of the nuances of fishing the current from the shoreline with jigs. In order to give you the best bang for your buck. I will forgo the usual tackle recommendations, as not all currents are the same. Here in NJ I might find flows of 1-2 knots and some with 5 knots or better. While I primarily prefer tackle on the stout side for the moving water I may not necessarily use the same tackle for both applications. If I could make one recommendation. Striper's in the current will pull hard using the current to their advantage. You have to be able to stop them. Plain and simple. Just be sure your equipment is up to the task. In other words don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

With that said I will also forgo the particular lure aspect. When it comes to jigging there are so many variables to consider. .I have caught quality fish on jig heads that weigh anywhere from 3/8’s oz to 6 oz. From plain old smiling bills to 9” shad bodies. This is a nuts and bolts article. One that should give you enough insight to attack the current with confidence..

First it helps to understand the nature of the task at hand. The bottom of any out flow or riverbed is usually lined with undulations. From giant rocks the tide cannot move, to little depressions on the bottom that can change daily. They are like rest areas along the Bass highway. It is my opinion these locations will hold a fish for a few days in the current then they move on. Hopefully to be replaced by another. These undulations present a break in the moving water. In other words they ease the flow of the current. Giving the fish a chance to relax and let the food come to them. You may have heard the term ambush points in one aspect or another in fishing well this is one of them.

Ah, life is good. The beauty of fishing the current is it puts the fish where they are supposed to be. It does take a lot of the guess work out of the equation. Often times it does not take much in the way of structure to hold a fish. The slightest depression is all it takes for the fish to find respite from the tide. So don’t be afraid to try new places from time to time.

With this information in hand it is easy to see that the main objective is to fish the bottom. Or as close to the bottom as you can get. You want your offering to resemble injured or stunned bait. Kicked off the gentler moving water close to the bottom. Helpless in the flow of the tide it is an easy meal for Mr. Linesides. Here lies the tricky part. How do you get as close to the bottom as you can without getting hung up?

There are many ways to accomplish this. For starters you can simply go to the waters edge with an array of different weight jigs. You might have what you need. For a short time. The problem is the tide waits for no one and the different speeds of the tide will have you digging around for a different jig.

There’s a few ways to fine-tune your presentation the most simple solution is cast location. Find a target on the other side. This is important as in any experiment a consistent model is needed to get accurate results. Let’s say I am standing at the waters edge the current is flowing from left to right. My first cast is at a target straight ahead or 12 o'clock. It's sticking pretty good. Probably too good as I have to yank it off the bottom a few times to keep from snagging. I reel it in quick. It’s my favorite jig! Without changing the jig size I will make my next cast at 1 o‘clock. This should work fine. Like magic I have this perfect drift, just off the bottom tic. tic, tic.

Well it’s not magic really what is happening is the tension of the current on your fishing line has increased with the increased angle of your cast slightly down current. In the process your once too heavy offering is now working fine.

I am a count freak when I jig I also count the time it takes for the jig to hit the bottom from the time it breaks the surface. This will tell me if the tide is going faster or slower. A minor detail to some. The difference in getting your jig hung up or not to others. Ideally my jig will tic the bottom once per Mississippi You’ll find you might get 3 or so good tic’s of the bottom then maybe one more then nothing. The tension of the current on your line is lifting the jig off the bottom as it drifts away from you. You can get back to the bottom by simply letting out more line. I primarily use spinning gear for jigging so I take it off the roller. I will let line off for a three count. In other words three Mississippi.

Letting out more line will get you to the bottom but it also increases the tension some. More line = more tension. Your going to find now your contact time on the bottom will be diminished. You‘ll get maybe one or two tics till you have to let line out again as the jig ascends. The further down current the longer the count to get to the bottom. Basically I will continue this action through the swing as far as I can.
Usually till I run out of room or current. Then I reel up and start over again.

There are some other movements that are involved. I like to keep it simple. In my opinion there is no reason to impart any extra action to the jig. Your goal is to make it appear helpless in the strong current. A tasty morsel that has lost it's way. As the jig tics the bottom I will raise it or pop the rod slightly. I like to keep my offering near the bottom. My rod movements are more of a defensive movement. To be sure the jig is not sticking. In my travels I have noticed the guys in the Cape Cod Canal will give more emphasis to this movement. Almost yanking the rod back in a motion that resembles setting the hook. Both styles work well along with an action that is something in between these two movements. Do what comes natural for you.

I prefer to hold my rod at an angle, about ten o’clock. As the jig tics the bottom I will raise or pop the rod to 11-12 o’clock. Then I lower the rod slowly back down reaching and feeling for the tick of the bottom.. Be sure to hold on tight. Most times this is where the hits come, as the jig descends. There can be no mistaking the strike. They are fierce, they will double your rod down. In the moving water the fish has short time to take your offering. They come off the bottom fast and furious. When they are hungry they don’t mess around. With the tension of the current on the line they just about hook themselves. I prefer to be sure with a quick snap of the rod.

When it comes to fighting them I believe in NO Quarter, that is I do not let them run. I prefer to fish a moderate to loose drag. When I have to I will lightly cup the spool to stop them. This takes the steam out of the fish right away and usually it’s just a matter of winching them back within a few short moments. When the fish gets near you is where the loose drag comes to play. The fish will take what I like to call their last ditch effort to freedom. As the fish comes into the shallower water they will take note, Besides the hook in their lip they know something is up. They will thrash and pull with all they have left. You have to let them do their thing, you’re on short line. Line that has possibly been abused in the struggle. I would bet that high percentage of good fish lost happen at this time. Usually their runs are short lived and after one or two of these blast you can slide them to you.

When fishing in current it is important to make sure your leader will break prior to your main line. I have found that 30 lb fireline will break 40lb leader. You do not want the main line to break as it will leave a long section on the bottom making a bad snag to get hung on. Plus you’ll run the risk of loosing quite a bit of braid hence ending your session. Make sure your knots are good and you’ll be fine.

Just like any other type of fishing there are always variables. I have found some of my best fish after long nights of the usual thing then getting bored and trying something new or different. Some of my better fish have come from experimenting. Always pay attention to what the water tells you. Even in the dark, seams and rips can be noticed. It's up to you to figure out the right presentation. We'll cover that in the next article. Anyway, there’s plenty here for you to get out and hit the moving water with a bit of confidence. After all that’s what it’s all about fishing with confidence. Once you have that mastered you can really make it happen.

Good Luck

I did something similar to this on my clubs website last fall..I tuned it up to put it into article form.
I decided It's better when it's for free...

Last edited by The Dad Fisherman; 03-19-2009 at 10:48 AM..

It's usually darkest just before it turns Black..
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