When writing about the favorite about food source for largemouth bass I generally only discuss shad. Shad provide a major source of food for largemouth bass but when it comes to the preferred foods, a crayfish is also at the top of the largemouth diet.
I previously wrote an article about crayfish or if you prefer the names crawfish or crawdad and pointed out that these crustaceans are found in both Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee and with the Oconee River system having at least 17 different species of crayfish, there are certainly good numbers in both lakes.
I mentioned in that previous article a professor at Georgia College and State University was studying the local crayfish population and had asked for volunteers to place crayfish traps in Sinclair and Oconee to assist in that study.
I bought a crawfish trap to assist in that study but was unable to catch any crawfish. I am still not sure that the trap I bought worked properly. Anyway, that professor left the area and as far as I know the study was never completed.
It is likely that both lakes have a significant population of crayfish and the study was to determine both crawfish species and numbers. Most anglers think about crayfish imitating lures as being one of the best lures for smallmouth bass but those types of lures that imitate crayfish are also excellent lures for largemouth bass.
One of the more popular lures for largemouth bass is the pig and jig which is made to resemble a crayfish. A largemouth bass just cannot turn up its nose to a live crayfish scooting across the bottom of the lake. The crayfish is high in protein and the largemouth bass knows the value in eating crayfish.
Many tournament anglers on Sinclair and Oconee compete in tournaments with one thing in mind and that is catching the bigger fish. That is why many of those tournament anglers prefer the jig and pig lure. When fished along rocky shorelines or around docks the jig and pig will entice strikes from big largemouth bass.
Some tournament anglers will only get a few strikes per day when fishing the jig and pig but usually the fish that strike the jig and pig are large fish and that is important when competing in tournaments. Anglers need to be in good physical condition when using the jig and pig because it can put a strain on your upper body especially the shoulders and arms.
Crayfish are active in lakes year-round and some of the biggest bass will fall for a jig and pig in colder weather. Both Sinclair and Oconee are both suited for fishing the jig and pig due to the many shoreline docks, brushpiles, rip-rap and rocky formations that can be found in the lakes and those are perfect residences for crayfish.
I have only seen a couple of crayfish in Lake Sinclair and both of those were being eaten by blue herons but not seeing the crayfish with your eyes does not mean that the crayfish are not present in the lake. Crayfish are secretive bottom dwellers that scoot across the lake bottom looking for living and dying vegetation, aquatic insects and even small fish.
Live crayfish are often used as bait by anglers but they can be difficult to find in bait and tackle stores. Crayfish used as bait has also led to crayfish species being spread to lakes and streams where they do not belong and they can become an invasive species.
Certainly, live crayfish are excellent bait for largemouth bass but crayfish imitations like the jig and pig are also good choices. When worked properly by anglers, the jig and pig cannot be resisted by a largemouth bass and color combinations are available that can mimic the exact colors of the crayfish.
The jig and pig has two components, the jig and the trailer (or pig). That combination creates a large, bulky creature looking thing with appendages or legs that look very much like a live crayfish and the largemouth bass simply cannot resist that meal.
You might want to give the jig and pig a try as cooler weather moves into area lakes. Good fishing and see you next week.
Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.