Tips, Tricks and Tactics From the Pros
Editor’s Note: James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, a Strike King Pro, guides fishermen on Lake Fork and also is a seminar speaker. Weather plays no role in whether or not Niggemeyer goes fishing. Water temperatures at Lake Forks often are in the 80s and 90s in the summertime with the air temperature at 90 to 100-plus degrees, and the heat index often more than 110 degrees. Here’s how James Niggemeyer is catching bass in these extremely-brutal conditions.
Part 1: James Niggemeyer On Fishing Strike Kings Football Head Jig
Question: James, where are you finding bass when the air temperature is 100 degrees and more?
Niggemeyer: I’m fishing in 22-to 44-foot deep water. I’m looking for bass that are chasing shad and eating yellow bass.
Question: What lures are you using to catch bass in 40 feet of water?
Niggemeyer: The secret to catching those hot-weather bass at this time of the year is not to focus on one lure. One day we may catch that fish on a Strike King Football Head Jig with a Rage Craw Trailer, and the next day we may catch our bass on a KVD 5-inch Finesse Worm on a drop shot rig. Or, later, the bass may want the Sexy Spoon, or they may take the Football Head Jig in the morning and a Carolina rig in the afternoon. Or, they may want the Strike King 5XD or the Strike King 6XD. So, you have to fish a wide variety of lures to find out what lure they want on the day you’re fishing and the time you’re fishing.
Question: Ok, James, when you’re going to start the day, what’s the first lure you’ll be fishing in hot, dry weather?
Niggemeyer: Right now in July, I’m catching most of my bass on a 3/4-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig in the green-pumpkin color or the peanut-butter-and-jelly color, my two go-to-colors. On the green-pumpkin Football Jig, I use a green-pumpkin Rage Craw Trailer, either Summer Craw or the amber bama craw for a trailer on the peanut-butter-and-jelly Football Jig.
Question: How deep are you fishing these Football Head Jigs?
Niggemeyer: I’ll have my boat sitting in 30 feet of water and cast toward the shallow side of the structure. In different spots, I’m fishing in 22 to 44 feet of water.
Question: What pound-test line are you using to catch the bass?
Niggemeyer: I’m fishing with14-and 16-pound test. We’ve been in drought conditions here at Lake Fork, and the water’s really clear. So, I’m using SunlineShooter Fluorocarbon. My rod is a St. Croix Legend Xtreme in a 7-foot medium-heavy rod, and I’m using an Ardent XS 1000 Baitcast Reel.
Question: James, walk us through your retrieve with a Football Head Jig.
Niggemeyer: The first key to catching hot-weather bass on the Football Head Jig is to make sure the jig falls vertically on a slack line. If you engage your reel when the bait hits the water, the jig will fall like a pendulum, causing the jig to swing away from the spot to which you’re casting the bait. When you’re fishing in deep water, like I’m fishing now in July, if you engage the reel when the jig hits the water, the jig will hit the bottom 5- to 6-feet away from the place to which you were casting it. I’m casting the jig to shallow water and fishing it back through the deep water. This way I can cover all the depth zones where the bass may be holding. Some days the bass may be holding a little shallower than they do other days, or they may be holding deeper. Many days I’ll just drag the Football Head Jig like I do a Carolina rig. On the days when the bass are super-aggressive, they’ll often take the jig on the fall. Other days, I’ll rip the Football Head Jig off the bottom and let the Football Head Jig fall, and then the bass will take the bait on the fall.
Question: James, if the bass take the Football Head Jig on the fall, and you’ve got a slack line, how do you know when the bass has the jig in its mouth?
Niggemeyer: If the bass hits the jig as it’s coming-up in the water, when you try to reel-down to the bait, you’ll have a hard time making contact with the lure. If the bass pick-up the jig and are swimming toward you as you’re taking-up slack, you may see the line go to the left or to the right and at the same time, keep contact with your bait.
Question: James, when you’re dragging the Football Head Jig on the bottom, what will the bite feel like?
Niggemeyer: Sometimes you’ll feel a hard thump on the line from a bass, and on other days you may only feel a slight peck, like a bluegill trying to take the bait. When this happens, lift-up on your rod, and your line will feel somewhat heavy and spongy. In deep water, sometimes the bass will take the bait very aggressively, and on other days they don’t.
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