Mike Peluso

In the sport of hockey, bigger is better.  Back in the early seventies, a big hockey player was six feet tall, and almost weighed 200 pounds.  Now days, the average NHLer is over six feet tall and weighs 205. That is pretty much the norm in all sports, with the exception of golf and a few others.  In recent years, I have seen a lot of people using smaller jigs.  When I first started out, a small jig was 1/4 oz, and the average size was 3/8 oz. I can recall having tackle boxes with nothing else in them.  Now, a person has every different size ranging from the tiniest 1/32-oz to 2-oz jigs. 

Over the years, the rods, reels and line we use have assisted in our being able to feel smaller lures.  All jigs have their time and place, and can be used in a number of situations. We have all heard it before; the jig is the most versatile lure out on the water. This is true, when you take into consideration how many different ways you can fish with them. I love jigs for the pure enjoyment of feeling the fish bite. It is exciting to me when a fish hits a jig.  Another amazing thing is how you can feel the bottom, and almost picture what you are feeling? I think this is pretty unique over every other method of fishing. 

This past spring I was able to head back to my hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota.  I was injured during the season and underwent reconstructive knee surgery.  It was a bad thing from a hockey standpoint and a great thing as far as fishing goes.  I was able to fish the Missouri River from ice out all the way until I had to head back to Washington, DC for training camp in September.  During my time in Bismarck, I was rehabilitating my knee, and getting back to my roots of walleye fishing.  I was on the water every day I could, barring weather.  I learned a lot this past year and it was fun to be able to spend as much time on the water as I did.  Don't get me wrong, I missed playing hockey last season greatly.  Without fishing, I think I would have gone crazy! 

I experimented this past spring by using a little bigger jig than I would normally use. In years past, we were trying to go as light as possible, but this caused us to lose contact with the bottom a majority of the time.  Like most rivers, the Missouri changes a lot.  The depths can change quickly.  I started to use 1/4oz and 5/8-oz jigs more frequently, and started catching more fish then in years past. While using larger jigs I started catching fish in areas that seemed to be vacant of fish in previous years.  I look back on it now, and we were missing out, trying to do the macho thing, and using the smallest jigs possible. The bite offs were noticeably greater with the smaller jigs too. Typically, in a river situation you are dealing with dirtier water. With the larger jigs thumping on the bottom, we were alerting more fish to our baits. I tested this often, when I had other fishermen in the boat this summer. They would use the macho jigs (1/8oz or smaller), and I would put the 1/4oz, or larger.  I don’t believe I am a more skilled jig fishermen, but I was out fishing some pretty good jig anglers!  I started to reminisce about years past, on how my dad would out fish my best friend, Ryan Thompson and me. This was happening to us quite a bit! We thought he was on a lucky streak, but when I look back on it, he too was using a larger jig. I will admit I was sucked into the macho thing of using the smallest jig in the bunch. We always caught fish, just not as fast as he was. 

I am not going to sit here, and tell you small jigs are no good. They are equally as good as any other jig. Each jig has a time and a place. I have a new rule that I follow when jig fishing. I always start out heavier, and work my way down. It used to be the opposite for me until this past fishing season. Try using something a little bigger, and see what the results will bring you. Athletic teams have been doing it for years!  

Keep your stick in the passing lanes on the penalty kill! 

Mike Peluso

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