Picture this, it’s late November in South Louisiana, and you are on the third day of a warming trend from a cold front that blew through days before. So with fog limiting your visibility on the morning commute, you decide to fish a trusty spot on the southwest side of Bay Sanbois in Port Sulphur. Now as you pull up to the spot, you think to yourself, “Why is this spot so good?” It’s certainly nothing visible to the human eye. With that in mind, the visual contour of the bottom runs through your head like the depth finder mounted to the console of the boat. In short, this spot is solid oysters with a 3’ flat on one side and a ledge in the middle that dips to 5 feet of water. Additionally, the falling tides of the early winter mornings, make it virtually a sure thing. So as you lower the trolling motor, you look back at the arsenal of rods and you quickly go for a 6’6” medium action with a 1/4oz jighead paired
with a glass minnow imitation soft plastic. As you get the boat positioned, you cast slightly up current and let the tide bring your jig right off the ledge and as you would expect, you feel the tap of a trout. You quickly set the steel and the power pole and methodically pick at a limit until the tide bottoms out. This spot is just one example of the many underwater havens that hold a countless amount of trout across the Gulf Coast. However, getting them to bite isn’t always easy unless you understand how to fish a jig.
In this 2-part blog post, I want to discuss fishing soft plastics. In my life, I’ve been fortunate to develop confidence throwing a jig and soft plastic, and have been lucky enough to fool a few trout along the way. In short, this technique is my bread and butter for no other reason, than the confidence I possess in throwing a jig and soft plastic. Additionally, it is also the most versatile way to fish. You can fish it in 20 feet of water or 2 feet and yield the same results. Additionally, as a newcomer to an area, throwing a jig can help you cover water, vital to maximizing your knowledge of the local estuary. Not only can cover water, but you can also get a feel for water depth, as well as bottom structure. With that said, here are two items I’d like to discuss, 1) soft plastics and body style and 2) Jig head style and weight.
First, let’s discuss soft plastics. I love going to Academy or any local tackle shop and looking at the colors of soft plastics. In fact, I’ve recently been experimenting with making my own soft plastic molds and have poured a few baits, but that is another post. In short, soft plastics come in a ton of colors and a myriad of body styles. However, as with most things, the simpler the approach the better the result…I fully implement the KISS method for my approach to throwing soft plastics, let me explain. Fish, particularly trout, like to eat shrimp or other fin fish, as a result, I throw a bait that looks similar to those two things. That is the primary reason I use these soft plastics, Matrix shads (made in Slidell, LA) and Down South Lures (made in Austin, TX), because they make baits that mimic baitfish. Not only do they have tremendous action and superb durability, but they have great colors that mimic the forage, trout, reds and flounder seek to feast upon. They (Matrix and Down South) don’t do anything fancy with they’re color schemes except stick to matching the light and dark silhouettes in the estuaries they are applied. Here are a few pics of what I mean….
Down South Lures - Chicken of the C
Down South Lures - Kicken Chicken
Matrix Shad - Ultra Violet
Matrix Shad - Green Hornet
In addition to color, their body styles are all you need and what you would look for in a soft plastic.
Matrix shad’s are 3” in length and more compact than Down South. As a result, I throw Matrix shads in more deepwater applications, on heavier jigheads, when more action is required from a bait. See attached video of underwater footage of a Matrix and think back to my KISS example. Hint, hint….it involves throwing something that looks like a baitfish.
Down South Lures, on the other hand, are 4.5” in length have a more slender body and small kicker tail. I use Down South exclusively wadefishing here in TX and have had tremendous results. The small kicker tail allows the bait to run true while fishing, because it almost acts like a rudder. Additionally, the longer body provides larger trout a bigger silhouette of a finfish and the slender body isn’t as obtrusive to big fish, which is key to tricking those big girls to eating on the flats. All in all, I’ve been super impressed with these baits, and partnered with a 1/8oz screw lock Venom jighead, its easy to field a limit on 1 tail, or target your Personal Best trout wadefishing.
With regard to soft plastics, that’s it….the simpler the better. Other than a box full of those two lures in a variety of basic colors, those are the two soft plastics I throw when and why. So quit lugging that 20lb tackle bag that could start a satellite location of Academy and stick to the basics. Also, if you haven’t checked these two lures companies out yet, please do so. In addition, these companies are owned by two awesome guys (Chas Champagne – Matrix Shad and Mike Bosse – Down South Lures) that live amongst us in our communities and have their soft plastics made in the States. Support them if you can.
Part II, jighead selection will be posted next week, but for now God Bless and tight lines!