Catching those fish often requires a different tackle package, approach, and technique than what works on the lake later in spring or in the summer months. Bob Barnhart and a lot of other anglers go “old school” this time of year, breaking out the hair jigs that some might consider museum pieces and fishing vertically.“In many ways, we treat it the same as ice fishing,” he said. “We’re doing everything but standing in the ice, and instead we’re using the boat as the platform.”
That might mean double-anchoring to keep the boat still, using the same flashers that were used a month ago on the ice, and “dead-sticking” putting the rod in the rod holder and not touching it until it loads up.The tackle arsenal for jigging the reefs closely resembles the best ice fishing gear, with the addition of those hair jigs.The short ice rods have been put away, but the Swedish pimples, jigging lures, and stinger hooks are still in the active rotation, according to Barnhart.
“Those stingers are really important, especially on those short strikes,” the owner of tackle supplier Netcraft said. “Some days, without that stinger hook you can just about forget it.”
The hair jigs of choice for most anglers are purple or purple with chartreuse, either in synthetic or bucktail. Barnhart said the 5/8 and 3/4 ounce sizes usually get the bulk of the work.