Hey gang, I know that it's warm in the south and starting to freeze -up in the north, but I just thought I'd pass along some tactics that have worked for me the past many years once the water temperatures drop below 50 F down even to as low as 38 F in 'open-water' scenarios in the Mid-Atlantic.
I utilize hairjigs that I tie in several options and sizes. This is not a blog designed to advertise my product, but rather to help winter time panfishermen use what I believe to be a deadly tactic.
Hairjigs are tied with various materials, but I like marabou, craft hair, bucktail and polar hair. I use flashabou and crystal flash for scale accent. For sizes, I like 1/32 and 1/16 oz for crappies and 1/80, 1/64 and 1/32 oz for bluegills. For colors. I like pink, chartreuse, white and lime green in various combos for crappie. Bluegills seem to like more of a plain brown, black or beige or tan pattern. There are many other options and this site is loaded with talented tyers who I am sure will be glad to share their favorite patterns.
I fish hairjigs in the cold with three basic applications...
1- Casting and retrieving with no bobber. Using quality, limp 4 lb mono, cast your jig out to a brushpile, fallen log, bulkhead or in a spillway pool and keep a tight line as the lure descends slowly. You can punctuate the retrieve with slow hops, a gentle 'Lift/Drop' retrieve or a straight , steady retrieve. Always keep in touch with the lure, allowing no slack in your line. Imparting some type of action almost always gets more strikes than the straight retrieve. With ultra light spinning gear and longer rods, this is best done with 1/32 and 1/16 oz lures.
2- Cast and retrieve them below a fixed, attached bobber and allow the wind to 'drift' them over and around likely structure. Best for 1/80 and 1/64 th oz jigs. Small 'pops' or twitches with the rod-tip sometimes works. Bait tipping is crucial on smaller jigs-worms, waxies, maggots, etc will do.
3- Fish em below slip bobbers like the Thill Wagglers or other sensitive, in-line slip floats. You'll need to find out the depth and utilize a rubber bobber stop or the yarn style stops to establish the depth. The stop will invariably move with continued casting, so you'll have to check it after several casts and re-set as needed.
Strikes can be slow and lethargic, with fish often just 'trailin off' with a float. Strikes on a tight-line (no bobber) will be slight 'taps', ticks, or jumps in the line. High visibility lines can aid in strike detection.
Set the hook! I always tip the jig with bait as it really adds in the cold. In small lakes and ponds, you may find tremendous concentrations of fish in very small areas...please do not overharvest!
Hope this helps you in your winter trips this season!