Bobby Peoples

The water temperature has finally dropped into the low 50s, and if the weather forecasts are accurate, we will have colder weather staying around for several more weeks and the water temperature will likely drop into the mid-40s. That is the exact ingredient needed to get the fish offshore and feeding on shad and that means the fish will eat a spoon.

One detriment to spoon jigging is muddy water, and we have plenty of muddy to seriously stained water in both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. Relatively clear water is best for spoon jigging. However, there are still areas in both lakes where good water is available for spoon jigging. 

Areas from the big bend area to the Wallace Dam, including Richland Creek, are good spoon jigging areas at Lake Oconee. Rooty Creek, Island Creek, Nancy Branch and areas near the Sinclair Dam are good spoon jigging areas in Lake Sinclair. Largemouth bass and crappie are not impacted as much by muddy water as are hybrid and striped bass.

My favorite way to catch fish during the winter months is by feeding the fish a spoon. I am referring to the jigging spoon, which comes in several styles and sizes. The fish will literally eat the spoon. The jigging spoon is a slab of metal that can be a deadly weapon during the coldest part of winter on both Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair. The spoon imitates a shad, which the fish species I mentioned above are eating. 

The long-range weather forecast for our area is for a cold January, a colder February and a much colder March. If those temperature forecasts occur and we do not have unusually heavy rains, the next couple months should be good for spoon jigging. Additionally, to have really good spoon jigging success, the shad or baitfish need to be over deep water (17 to 50 feet) around underwater humps, river/creek channels/ledges or deep points. When the water temperature is between 40 and 55 degrees, those temperatures will send the fish to those depths and locations. The colder the water the better. 

When the water temperature is just right and the water clarity is preferably lightly stained to clear, here are a few tips for using the jigging spoon. The single most important ingredient for catching fish on a jigging spoon is the presence of shad. Find shad near deep drop-offs, old creek/river channels/ledges and underwater humps/islands and largemouth bass, hybrid bass, striped bass, white bass and crappie will not be far away. The fish will usually be located under and around big schools of shad and they will be feeding on those shad. In cold water, some shad will die and other shad will become lethargic and that makes for an easy meal for the fish.

That situation is where the jigging spoon will consistently produce fish. There are different sizes and shapes of jigging spoons. My first experience with jigging spoons in deep water occurred many years ago in Virginia. I was using a Little George, a lure that I would not quite equate to a jigging spoon. It was a heavy metal lure shaped somewhat like a small shad baitfish with a spinner attached.

The Little George was fished horizontally whereas the jigging spoon is presented vertically. Good vertical jigging spoons for Lakes Oconee and Sinclair are the Hopkins spoon, the Flex-It spoon and the Bomber Slab. Initially, spoons came in silver and gold but now many other colors like white, green, blue, black and multi-colors are available. 

Place any of those spoons in the fish’s face with a slight twitch or a tantalizing drop with a wobble and a likely strike will occur. When you find a likely spot and shad are present, just drop the spoon all the way through the school of shad to the bottom, and then bring the spoon up depending on depth of the shad. 

Quite often strikes will occur before the lure reaches the bottom or as the spoon passes through the shad. With all the spoons, you must watch your line for light strikes. I prefer to locate fish that are close to the bottom since suspended fish are harder to catch.

Normally, the jigging spoon does not require much action and usually, a slight flick of the wrist is all that is required to entice a strike. You are simply trying to imitate a dying and fluttering shad so usually very little action is required. Sometimes a slight lift and drop is required. 

However, on some days you have to find what the fish want and you may have to give the spoon more or less action depending on the fish’s interest. The fish are normally somewhat lethargic in the cold weather so they will not chase the spoon. 

On some days, the seagulls can be seen diving in the water feeding on shad and often the hybrid and striped bass will also be feeding on those shad at or near the water’s surface. A casting spoon, a Little George, a Zoom Fluke, a Strike King Sexy Dawg, a pooping Cork with a Thing Popper or a lure like a Rat-L-Trap are some good choices for surface or near surface feeding fish. 

With the colder water temperatures likely hanging around until at least early March, I recommend you buy a few jigging spoons, locate some of the deeper water areas I have mentioned, locate baitfish on your fish/depth finder and try for some deepwater largemouth bass, striped bass, hybrid bass, white bass and even crappie. Try a little spoon jigging, it can be a lot of fun. 

Good fishing and see you next week.

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