Vertical jigging is one of the most effective techniques for catching crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, and other panfish. This ancient form of fishing can be extremely effective during late fall, winter, and early spring when panfish congregate in deep water.
When vertical jigging techniques are combined with the unique characteristics of fishing kayaks, the results can be deadly. Kayak fishermen often have a number of advantages that may not to available to conventional boats. Due to their small size and low profile, kayaks can drift in a slow precise pattern. Kayaks can also be used in areas where larger boats may not be practical.
Productive areas for jigging include drop offs, deep holes, channel junctions, underwater reefs, and other bottom structure. When jigging over structure, it may be beneficial to take note of location when a fish is caught.
Lures for vertical jigging can usually be found in a typical freshwater fishing tacklebox. Productive lures for panfish include traditional crappie jigs, shad darts, curly tailed grubs, and small metal slab jigs.
When fish are suspended, metal slab jigs can be a good option. These lures come in an array of sizes, shapes, colors, and hook configurations. Single hook models can be used for larger fish while jigs with treble hooks work better for smaller species such as pumpkinseed and bluegill.
Some anglers combine jigs with baits when fish are cold and slow moving. Suitable baits include nightcrawlers, minnows, crayfish, grass shrimp, and similar offerings. Some anglers prefer bare, unpainted jig hooks for use with baits, while others choose shad darts or other skirted jigs.
During winter, jig and bait combinations often produce when other techniques are ineffective. During these cold weather situations, it may be necessary to jig slowly near the bottom.
Although the techniques described in this article are most often used to target panfish, anglers should be ready for the unexpected. Even when using small lures, vertical jigging can attract larger gamefish such as black bass, pickerel, pike, walleye, striped bass, and other species.