hotrod jigs

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Hack [hak] (n) – A clever trick, skill, or shortcut to increase productivity and efficiency.

1.  Find the bait first, then look nearby for the fish.

2.  All things being equal, go with chartreuse.

3.  Fish in areas where you can see the current moving.

4.  The sneakier the angler, the bigger the fish.

5.  Use dark colored lures in low light situations and rainy days.

6.  Color contrasts attract fish. Read More!


Revisiting my series on the common traits of good fishermen, I keep coming back to attitude and innovation. I recently crossed paths with Chesapeake Bay light tackle guide Dennis Fleming and the subject of “the right stuff” came up. Dennis noted that, regardless of experience level, some fishermen come on his boat with a natural talent for fishing. When I think of talent, I consider my experience with artists and musicians. There is no doubt that creativity comes more naturally to some people than to others. So, how important is natural talent and creativity to successful fishing? Obviously, the most important factor to success is time on the water. In fishing, there’s simply no substitute for experience. Still, there must be something to the observation that some anglers get it, and some never will. An important factor is that successful anglers are open to new ideas.

It’s been said that 10-percent of the fishermen catch 90-percent of the fish, and that good fishermen think like a fish. Hmm, “think like a fish?” Is that something that can be learned or taught? Embracing creativity and experimenting with innovative techniques is lot of what this website and my book, Chesapeake Light Tackle, An Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay is about. I try to pass along good ideas and tactics I’ve learned once I’ve had a chance to try them out. It all starts with an open mind. Read More!


It’s January on the Chesapeake Bay. It’s freezing. It’s windy. It’s snowy-sleety-foggy-and-rainy-miserable. It’s a fine time to stay home in front of a comfortable fire and dream of warmer seasons. On the other hand, these are perfect conditions to catch & release trophy striped bass in Maryland. To get ’em, you gotta want ’em.  And I mean, really want ’em.

When it comes to winter fishing, you have to be motivated enough to put up with some misery. One of the definitions for dedication in Webster’s Online Dictionary is, a solemn commitment of your life or your time to some cherished purpose or goal. Everyone I know who is good at anything got that way because of their dedication. Simply put, the key to success in any endeavor is an extreme level of commitment. Now, let’s talk rockfish.

It’s miserable out there. It’s striped bass weather. If catching and releasing big fish is your cherished goal, why aren’t you fishing? 

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I got eelgrass veins and brackish blood, I wrote my name in the tidal mud.”  Daniel Kimbro from the song “Cape Charles.”

Eelgrass – it’s not something we’re used to seeing much in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.  According to the Maryland DNR website, it’s most likely found in high salinity areas of the Chesapeake Bay, approximately from the Choptank River south to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Charles and in the smaller coastal bays. Because of poor water quality, bay grasses are at historically low levels, so it’s a little odd that we’re seeing eelgrass farther north than usual this summer. It’s probably a result of high salinity coupled with sustained warmer temperatures – we’ve just come through the warmest twelve consecutive months ever recorded in the United States.  On my StructureScan sonar, eelgrass and its cousin wild celery grass, looks like underwater fields of waving amber grain.  Baitfish hide in it, and rockfish love it.

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In the last CLT entry, I wrote about the five reasons why Chesapeake Bay stripers attack a lure: hunger, reaction, competition, territory protection, and curiosity. When fish are hungry, they’re easy to catch. Almost any lure or technique will work on hunger-feeding fish. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or resources to constantly run around looking for schools of voracious fish. If you’re like me, you have to fish in the limited time you have available, and you probably stay close to home. While we may occasionally happen upon groups of ravenous fish, most of the stripers we encounter are hard to catch. In order to be consistently successful, we have to provoke strikes from fish that may not be particularly inclined to bite. Strike producing lures are especially important right now since we have trophy rockfish migrating in and out of the Bay. Our chances for catching-and-releasing a 50-pounder on light tackle are better than at any other time of year, but migrating fish have other things on their minds besides eating. Big fish get bigger by being smart and getting smarter. To catch them, we need to cast lures that will provoke strikes by appealing to their five senses;  sight, sound, smell, feel and taste.  I call the formula 5 by 5.  By that, I mean we can consider the five reasons why fish strike, then use lures designed to appeal to each of their five senses in order to come up with the best of all possible strike triggers. In this installment we’ll look at striped bass eyesight. Read More!


If the next 51 weeks of 2012 go as well as the first one, this promises to be a very good year for light tackle fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve fished four times and caught a Diamond Jim qualifying citation fish on each trip including three rockfish in the mid 40-inch range. I’m chalking it up to a little experience, some insider information, and a lot of luck.  My son, “Big Fish Cory” has been visiting. Although he didn’t catch any trophies this time around, he still brought along his lucky horseshoe.  Chesapeake striped bass fishermen have two basic winter options.  One is to fish deep holes – either in the main stem of the Bay or up in the outside bends of the rivers – and the other is to work the warm water discharges. Since we’ve had a very mild winter so far, the warm water discharges have been inconsistent.  I decided to split the difference and fish the last four days close to home off Kent Island.

One of the best places I know of to jig up deep water rockfish is the Bay Bridge.  Two- and three-year-old-stripers and white perch survive the cold winter by stacking up around the Bay Bridge rock piles. They’ll stay there until the spring freshet washes out their warm water comfort zones. Even though they are readily apparent on a fish finder, they aren’t always easy to catch. To coax a strike out of deep-water stripers you just have to aggravate them until they bite.  You can jig for hours and not get a single strike, then, snap – the fish will turn on and you’re catching every cast. Read More!