If I had to pick only one lure to use for all my fishing both in the winter and summer, I would pick a jig. I attended a Babe Winkelman jig fishing seminar as a young boy in Eau Claire, Wisconsin with my father and this seminar changed my fishing, or should I say my way of fishing forever. I don’t know of any fresh water fish that you can’t catch on a jig.
Once you tie that jig to your line you have more different ways to dress it up than a teenage girl on prom night. You can use live bait, (in some places) shrimp, eggs, clams, insects or bug larvae. If you choose you can use a whole arsenal of various man made rubber products that look and feel like rubber worms, crayfish, minnows, or multicolored twister tails. No matter which way you decide to dress up your jig, they all seem to work at some point at certain times.
When I arrived in Alaska I was told by one local fisherman that the fish here don’t bite on jigs and that I had to learn to fish differently here then I did in the Midwest. I believed him, not only because he was known to be a very successful fisherman, but also because I could not find any stores in Alaska that sold jigs.
Through the years, I have found that the fish here love jigs just as much as they do in other places in the world. I also think that the color of jig you choose makes a big difference at certain times. Nearly all of my fish are caught on either a florescent green or orange jig here in Alaska. I have never caught a fish here on a white jig, so for now I never even think of using that color. I’m sure at different times of the year or during certain insect larvae stages white jigs catch fish.
Last summer we had a guest from Massachusetts here fishing with us. His name is Gene Dube and our daughters were roommates at Bay Path College in Mass. This winter the whole family received Christmas gifts from the Dube family. My gift was a box of jigs and also a nice pair of wool socks. I put on my new wool socks and put the box of jigs in my jacket pocket and headed for Kenai Lake.
As I sat on my bucket there on Kenai Lake, I got out my little box of multi-colored jigs. Instinctively I reached for my usual jigs, but then my eye caught the flash of a bright gold jig. It had an eye painted on it bordered by a black ring. I remember how once I did really well with a hammered polished gold spoon tipped with eggs on Skilak Lake several years ago while fishing with Ted Knight.
I have always said if you’re a lure manufacturer, your lures don’t necessarily have to catch fish to catch the eye of a fisherman. Well, this gold jig certainly caught my eye and I picked it up and tied it to my line.
I then took my fillet knife and cut the two bottom fins off a lake trout and continued back till I also removed the anus from the fish. I then took scissors and cut off the two fins even with the muscled mass of flesh they were attached to. I ended up with a triangle shaped piece of inedible fish belly that was about 1” long with a red dot on the narrow end. I hooked my jig through the grizzled upper end,the widest part of the belly, and I was ready to fish. I remove the fins for one reason, often times you will reel up fish and find that they are not hooked but merely hanging onto the fins and not hooked. As soon as they spot you on your bucket they simply let go and swim away.
I lowered my jig to the bottom and began jigging non-stop. I have another pole sitting there with eggs on that also help attract the fish in. I have always felt if I can get the fish in I can usually get them to bite on my jig. Some days the eggs will catch more fish then the jig but not normally. I also feel you are getting a lot deeper hook set with a jig then you will with a spoon or any lure with a treble hook. Another problem you can have with a treble hook is snagging the edge of the ice while reeling in a fish and tearing the hooks out of your fish. By fishing with a jig you eliminate extra hooks snagging the ice. I generally watch my line while ice fishing and not wait to feel the bite on my pole. Fish generally bite lighter in the wintertime and often times lake trout will take your bait and swim upwards so you never will feel a tug on your pole when that happens.
Now back to fishing my bright gold jig...I caught several nice fish that day all on my pole with the gold jig. In fact I caught the three biggest lake trout of the day on it. I had one over 5 lbs., one over 4lbs. and several that were over 2 lbs.!!! I’m not sure if it was luck, coincidence or if the bigger fish just preferred the color gold that day. I do know that the box of jigs was one very special Christmas gift for me and one that I will never forget. Thank you Gene Dube and yes you and Travis can use my boat to go back to the rainbow hole on Elephant Lake. This time you can even stay till after you actually do miss your plane. See you next week!
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