Frequent readers may remember a column I wrote about a company based out of Carlyle, Ill., called B&P Jighead. The company, which is actually more of a mom-and-pop shop that sells online, produces a great series of jigheads called the Tru Set jigheads, which let you fish popular setups like the Ned Rig, shakyhead and crappie jigs with a weedless, Texas-style setup thanks to its large, sickle hooks that you can embed in the body of the baits you’re using.
Not only do they make a killer jighead, but B&P also produces a variety of buoyant plastics that will lift up off the bottom when attached to a weighted jighead and will float at the top when fished with a light hook.
On this particular day — a warmer, sunny day with a steady breeze — I had tried bottom fishing with limited success. I like to use a high-visibility crappie line for finesse fishing so I can see it jump when the fish pick up the bait as it sits still on the bottom, but the wind made that a bit difficult to judge, so I had to rely more on feel. I hit early on a largemouth using a B&P Crayfish Chunk in blue sparkle on one of their Tru Set shakyhead jigs, but the bass seemed to be feeding mostly at the surface in shallow water, so I switched to one of B&P’s four-inch Senko worms in a Motor Oil Crawl color and rigged it Wacky style — in other words, hooked through the middle with no weight — on a VMC Neko Rig hook.
VMC’s #1-size hooks were just a bit heavier than what the worm cold hold up, meaning it would float near the top for a few seconds before slowly sinking. It fell at a super-slow rate when retrieved slowly, which is extremely enticing for feeding bass. I would twitch it until it broke the surface, let it sit for three to four seconds and then twitch again, leaving the worm in the 0- to 6-inch depth range. With the sun out and the previously murky water now much clearer, I could pretty well see the bait the entire retrieve, which came in handy when the fish would come up to grab it. I could actually see their sides flash in the sunlight as they attacked the lure.
On my very first cast, I was taken by surprise by a bass as I was examining how the worm floated, and it ended up getting off because of a bad hookset on my part. Two casts later, however, I had another one on and landed it from the dock. As I was fishing with lighter tackle on lower drag, I was enjoying the fact that every time I set the hook the fish would unspool a little line and I could hear the clinking sound to confirm a bass was on.
On the next cast, I again found a young largemouth bass on the end of my line and reeled it in quickly. Two casts later, the red specks in the Motor Oil coloring reflected the light from the sun perfectly as the worm breached the top of the water and another bass hammered it in a flash of green at the surface and dove down. It was like fishing a topwater popper, but with the finesse of a plastic worm.
Another cast, another bass. That made five out of my first seven casts that I hooked into a fish, four of which I landed.
I tossed a few more from the dock, had one get off because of a bad hookset after my arm hit my camera I was using to film the fishing trip, and then pulled out a few more from the shallows before switching to a crappie setup as the sun was setting. I still had some wax worms left over from my ice fishing experiments in February, so I put on two small Fle-Fly lead-free feather jigs in Cherry Limeade and tipped them with the now-dead wax worms under a crappie bobber. Fle-Fly also makes a great lure scent that I used in the super murky conditions last Wednesday to catch a nice crappie. I’ll write about that in a later column.
On the very first cast with the new setup, the bobber landed in the water and was almost instantly under. I quickly reeled up the slack and set the hook on a giant black crappie, and for whatever reason it didn’t fight at all as I reeled it in across the top of the water. Sometimes I think there’s a nerve or something in there mouth where if you hit it just right it paralyzes them. I forgot to measure it, but I’d guess the crappie was somewhere between 13 and 14 inches long. I caught several bull bluegills using this method, then went on a run of crappie as I hooked into a couple 11-inchers and then about four smaller ones as it got dark.
The last crappie I caught, I was lying on the dock on my side with the bobber about a foot off the dock. I couldn’t really see the bobber, but I felt the rod bending as the tip loaded up with the weight of the crappie. In one motion, I yanked it up with my left hand and onto the dock. It was a pretty cool moment.
If you’d like to get your hands on the lures I wrote about today, check out B&P Jighead at https://bpjighead.com/ and Fle-Fly at https://flefly.com/.