A Special Spawn
There are 3 periods of spawning during the spring that directly affects our ability to catch bass. And the third one is my favorite, and often overlooked.
Of course the first spawn is the bass spawn. It puts them up where we all can catch them and we all look forward to it every year. Second happens in many places, the shad spawn. When the bass are done doing their thing the shad spawn as the water temp rises into the 70's. Often spawning in coves or marinas, it is definitely a morning bite as the bass gorge until the sun comes up. And then, my favorite, the bluegill spawn.
As summer begins in many places north and south the bluegills go to the beds. Flat sand, the inside edge of weedbeds, and the back of flatter coves, once they start you can often see their beds everywhere. And that is when I really get excited.
The Swim Jig
Once I started fishing the swim jig I was hooked. While commonly used in areas of vegetation, I fish it year round. Weedy lakes, rocky lakes, ponds, it does not matter, it catches fish. And the major revelation, it can be an absolutely killer on spawning panfish. If there are panfish on the beds it will get the job done. Big fish love to eat them, and a really big bass is happy to eat the swim jig.
Generally during this period a 1/4 ounce swim jig is plenty as the fish are shallow. Many companies make them and I have yet to try a clunker, though the Strike King is my favorite. Color selection is easy, bluegill, watermelon red, or anything that has some of the colors of your local panfish. Fish due to their eye makeup can only see 2 real colors, red and green, which simplifies color selection.
Trailers basically come in the paddle tail or the craw style. I have learned that if you are going to use the craw style, keep it lighter in weight (Small bodied.) as you are fishing shallow. The last year I find myself using the Knockin Tail from My Coast Outdoors as my go to trailer. Fish have a hard time passing on that tail with the built in rattle whether used on a swim jig, A rig, or a simple swim bait. No matter your choice just match the hatch and you are ready to go.
There is one trick I learned from a swim jig maniac, trim it. If you used a shorter trailer, or shorten your favorite trailer by cutting some of to make a more compact bait, trim the skirt so it just goes slightly past the bend on the hook. Besides making the bait more compact, it is easy to match the hatch and reduce short strikes.
Retrieve it near the beds is easy, just slow roll it out of sight. Of course you can hop and drop it, rip it, and other methods, but the fish often do not care, they see and hear a small bluegill and it is going in their mouth. One thing about the bigger fish they will hit it a variety of ways. It might be the old line just goes completely slack, or they might try to jerk the rod out of your hands. Or maybe your line will just start moving sideway, you never know. But if it does not feel right, set the hook, it does not cost anything and one will occasionally jump it. Which leads to one last trick, give it a jerk. Bass often track your jig, so it pays to slow roll and give it a jerk and a little fall, and start reeling again. Do it a little ways off the bank, half way back, or right before it gets to the boat. It is just a matter of trying it out and seeing if it works.
So next time you find the bluegill/panfish beds remember the swim jig. And you can always contact Lou and have him paint you up a couple of beautiful square bill crankbaits. The pattern is the same and nothing like giving them a couple of options. Good luck and can't wait to see your pictures on Get Hooked!
Good Luck and Tight Lines