Battle of the lures
It’s shads versus jigs for pollack and cod.
Watching the sounder as we drift towards the wreck in search of cod, it was a vital judgement call when to put the jig 30ft uptide so it would work in those important few feet from the bottom.
By fishing the jig with lifts and rod-tip twitches, before switching to a high lift and one or two turns on the reel after each lift, it would take the fluttering piece of polished metal away from the bottom, over the wreck and into the cloud of pollack about 40ft or 50ft above the front edge of the wreck.
First drift of the day, the jig tapped the bottom, a fast couple of turns to lift it away from the grabby bits that just love ten quid jigs and there it was, that signature noddy bump on the rod tip, and the first cod of the day pulled some line against the drag. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
We were fishing out of Salcombe aboard Anglo Dawn, skippered by Chris Roberts. Clearing the estuary bar and heading out into a little bit of a slop left from a blow the day before, we knew that an hour or two later the tide would change ends. Because the wind would go with the tide, the sea would flatten off nicely.
Our destination was a big lump of wreckage, which is now beginning to break up and scatter across the seabed even more than it was when we first found it a couple of decades ago. The wreck is situated 10 or more miles off Salcombe, where there is nearly always some heavy current, making an ideal refuge for all manner of fish, especially cod and pollack.
Some were fishing shads and twin-tails, and it was interesting to see the difference in rigs being used. Those with long leaders fished them in the traditional manner – tap the bottom and reel 20 or 30 turns before dropping again, tap bottom, and do it all again. These guys caught most of the pollack because their lures were not often close to the bottom where the cod live.
Another angler used a much shorter leader and ‘hopped’ his bright-red twintail lure closer to the bottom. By tapping the bottom, only reeling for five or six turns before dropping and tapping the bottom again, he caught cod and pollack.
To my surprise, he uses 50lb fluorocarbon all the time for leader material when fishing wrecks. If he gets snagged, he’ll lose it all anyway, and if a big ling comes along he’ll have a much better chance of landing it.
It’s good to see the twin-tail lures back again. In the days of plenty we used them for cod. Fishing with big rods, heavy sinkers and a leader maybe 2ft long, we worked them much as we do today when jigging. Might be an interesting thing to try again on a wreck with more than a few cod on it.
OFF THE STERN
There were three of us fishing jigs off the stern, each taking turns to cast them underhand, uptide and outward to avoid tangling with the anglers fishing shad and twin-tails.
If you go one after the other, allowing time for the previous jig to get about halfway down, jigs can be fished quite successfully on a mixed-method boat. A bit of give and take is all it needs.
In 250ft of water you have to be careful in the choice of jig. If it is a flat and multifacetted slow jig, it could flutter and twist on its side nearly all the way down. You can restrict its action by thumbing the spool of your reel, but it will still take time to get to the bottom, by which time the drift will be almost done.
Many moons ago when we first started jigging we used straight-sided jigs that, basically, acted like a shore fishing spinner, but in deep water. We relied on working them at speed so their polished sides reflected light and imitated a fleeing baitfish; they became known as speed jigs.
In recent times, we have seen the advent of what has become known as slow jigs, which have an uneven distribution of weight on either side. They free-fall under their own weight, twist, turn and sink almost horizontally, all the time flashing “come and get me” signs at the fish.
Our old-time, crude by today's standards, speed jigs have been improved by incorporating some uneven weight distribution so that they have some of the movement of the slow jig, but still retain the ability to sink quickly with the lightest of thumb pressure on the reel’s spool.
Nowadays, it’s called long-fall jigging, and I love this style of fishing. Google it and watch some of the videos from around the world.
Believe me, it works – pollack, cod and bass are suckers for this style of fishing. It will take you a little while to learn how to do it, but it’s worth the effort. Snowbee (tel: 01 752 334933) still has some of its long-fall jigs, or take a look at www.jigabite.co.uk.
We finished our day’s fishing aboard Anglo Dawn about honours even between the jiggers and shadders, but most of the cod came to the jiggers.
Moored up alongside in Salcombe, we went to look at Chris Roberts’ new tackle shop. Bait and tackle for the boat will be no problem now. I’m now looking forward to a back-end trip for bass.
“Nowadays, it’s called long-fall jigging, and I love this style of fishing”
For information about fishing on Anglo Dawn with Chris Roberts, tel: 01548 854635 or 07967 387657. Web: www.salcombeangling.co.uk
Snowbee’s Russell Weston admires a cod taken on a Slider Jig James Gubb-Fradgley playing a cod
James with a 14-15lb cod caught on a red curly tailed lure hopped along the bottom
Skipper Chris Roberts with a 15lb pollack taken on a paddletail on a 15ft leader
First fish for Russ Symons – a 13lb cod taken on a bar jig near the seabed
Anglo Dawn at Salcombe