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Deepwater jigging for trout and Atlantic salmon

Leroy Tirant

How often have you been trolling around and have seen fish on your sounder showing up in depths of 20-40 ft or more? Even in today's modern world where an angler can buy a 5cm lure that will dive to 20ft or so it can still be frustrating trying to get your lures to the right depth to target these deep fish. But there is a fantastic exciting and easy way to target deepwater fish!


Rattling, lipless or sinking vibes
Call them what you will, these under utilized lures are deadly in our freshwater lakes and rivers when jigged vertically in deepwater. Many manufacturers make these lures. These are weighted and shaped in a gumleaf - come fish type profile and have a built in rattle. This shape and combined rattle, coupled with a tight shimmy action when either on the drop, or on retrieve and you have a combination that drives the fish mad and induces them into striking.
Lets start from the beginning so you can get an understanding of how this type of fishing works and you'll hopefully soon be out pulling fish from deepwater, that you didn't think you could target.

Sounders
Deepwater jigging is almost impossible to successfully do without a sounder of some sort, even a cheap unit will do the job. My first tip will be don't trust your sounder to identify fish for you as they can't reliably do this. When your sounder shows fish signals on your screen it is telling you that there is something in the water column that that echo signal has bounced off. These could be weed, structure, air bubbles or lots of other things, but your sounder will not always know what is fish and what isn't so it shows all returning echos as fish. So how do we fix this problem? The best way to start is to turn off the FISH ID and FISH ALARM options on your sounder, adjust your sensitivity up around 95% + and learn to interpret the raw sonar returns on your screen yourself. This isn't as hard as it sounds as fish will appear on your screen as blobs or arches and you will at least be more confident in targeting them.

Rods and reels
I prefer short slower tapered rods with a soft tip for this sort of fishing. The soft tip helps absorb hits from big fish as they come out of the blue. A soft rod also helps the lure get a nice tight shimmy action going. Rods from 5'4"-6'are good lengths. Match your rod to a reel of 2500-3000. I sometimes prefer these bigger reels because of the extra line capacity. Mono and braid both work for this kind of fishing but I prefer 4-6lb braid and rod length of leader of about 8-10lb breaking strain.

Technique
Once you find fish on your sounder you basically have to keep directly above them, a Minn Kota can help do this or if its windy, try tying up to trees and target the fish around them. You have to fish these lures vertically straight up and down right on the fish's nose. When you drop your lure down to the required depth keep a tight line and at no point do you want any slack in your line because if a fish hits your slack line they can bust you off. Keep in constant contact with the lure and  use slow deliberate lifts by raising your rod tip from water level to about shoulder height and then drop rod tip slowly to follow the lure back down to keep in contact. This is all you have to do to work these lures, it's just a slow lift and drop.
I have used this technique in Great Lake, Arthurs, Burbury and to catch Atlantics at Barrington in water up to 40ft deep. It is very effective early season when the surface water temperature is cold and the fish are in the warmer water down deep. What really got me going on this was I finding it to cold to troll on some early season days so I looked for other ways to catch fish and succeeded.

 

Leroy Tirant