Jig ‘n Pig in fall transition Part I: A Simple Playbook
September launches the pigskin season with talk of football and the aroma of bratwurst in the air.
Fittingly, it’s jig-and-pig season, too, with anglers pulling out a wide array of jig styles and weights and matching them with an equally wide selection of pork trailers.
But, just as it is for coach and quarterback, the angler’s “play selection” will change through the course of the season as he faces different waters and changing conditions above and below the waterline. The experienced jig-and-pig practitioner fine-tunes his jig and trailer selections to meet the mix of conditions he faces.
Uncle Josh offers a wide array of pork trailers in traditional pork jars and new resealable MEAT packages. Each offers different characteristics – related primarily to size, action and buoyancy -- that can and will affect the bait’s performance under water.
Of course, any jig-and-pig combination may conjure a bite from a hungry bass no matter the season or circumstance. But adhering to a few simple guidelines can turn the odds far more heavily to your favor and give you a better chance to dial in on a hot numbers or big fish bite.
The “Starter’s” Playbook
A simple game plan will suffice, and this is one that you can either build upon and fine tune or stay with for the entire fall season. Here is the bare-boned jig-and-pig logic behind it.
Early September generally finds fish in late summer patterns. Water temperatures remain warm, and fish feed actively and often aggressively.
Warm water and relatively stable weather conditions call for a bait with more inherent action and/or one that you can fish aggressively to match the mood and expectations of a hungry and active fish.
“The Uncle Josh MEAT Diamond Frog is one of my favorite trailers,” proclaims Adam Eisele, Uncle Josh sales manager and tournament angler. “I like it because it has a nice small, compact and tapered head along with nice long thin legs that give it really good action.”
The MEAT Diamond Frog has a narrower and smaller head than more conventional “pork chunk” products. Its hydrodynamic design leaves most of the lure’s water displacement to the kicking action of the legs.
Like all MEAT products, the MEAT Diamond Frog is a “skinless” product made entirely from pork fat, which makes it more buoyant than a traditional skin-on pork trailer. The fat also has more lifelike “mouth feel” to fish.
“The MEAT Diamond Frog is similar to the #11 MEAT Frog or the Uncle Josh #11 Original Pork Frog, but I like the longer legs better when I am running the pork all the way up the hook shank,” explains Eisele. “Those legs stick out just a little bit farther on a skirted jig…They flap nice and freely in the water and give off a more natural crayfish or baitfish movement when water is in the 60s, 70s or even warmer than that.”
Select a jig style that suits the conditions – a grass style jig for vegetation and cover; a football head jig to work over rock, stumps, and hard bottom, etc. If necessary, trim the skirt just enough to allow the Diamond Frog’s legs to work freely and provide a visible enticement to the fish.
Later in the fall when water temperatures drop, bass may want a slower presentation and a bait with more subtle action.
“The Uncle Josh #11 MEAT Frog has a much smaller, more compact profile,” notes Eisele. “It is designed more for finesse fishing or cold water. When the water is under, say, 50 or 52 degrees, I am going to go with this #11 MEAT Frog. It is a smaller meal for the fish, and that is often what they are looking for. A bass’s metabolism is a lot slower when water is cold, and this compact profile isjust right.”
Lighter jigheads and “finesse-style” jig designs often become more productive as temperatures drop.
Smaller pork trailers like the Uncle Josh Spinning Frog or #18 Mini Frog Trailer may come into play later in fall and in winter and again in early spring. Bass metabolism slows considerably with water temperatures reach the low 40s and 30s, but downsized jig-and-pig combos will continue to catch them even as ice begins to form.