Fishermen don’t need to find new places to spend money on tackle, but sometimes those places seem to find us.
My latest find for objects with hooks sprang at me while I was browsing Facebook several weeks ago. And it wasn’t one of those Facebook Marketplace pages but a “group” page for hobbyists. In fact, I don’t even remember what I was doing looking at this page.
It’s called Lead Pouring Techniques and Jig Making, and I have no interest in pouring lead or in making jigs.
I do, however, have a strong interest in catching fish on jigs.
So when I saw a fellow named Stephen Criss post up a picture of a swell-looking swim jig he’d made with a slightly unusual shade of blue in the skirt, I asked if he could make a couple for me. I wanted a combo of watermelon seed and pumpkinseed skirt, a pumpkinseed head with eyes (the rage on a jig you mostly keep reeling to imitate a baitfish.)
No problem, Criss said. And over the next day the young fellow from Tennessee sent me pictures of samples until the right color mix was achieved. I paid a reasonable price via PayPal and a couple days later the unique jigs arrived.
I caught my first fish on one in early November during the Gator Grab Pike Tournament on the Kalamazoo River’s Morrow Pond. That fish happened to be “big bass” of the tournament (even though it was only 13 1/2 inches long—the only other bass caught was 13 1/4 inches). So it won the $30 big bass pot.
I would have caught fish on it sooner, but after they arrived, they got lost amidst the other tackle in my office for a couple months. They do look great in the water and I’m sure they’ll catch some more.
To check out Stephen Criss’s other fine jig work, go to his Criss Custom Tackle Facebook page.
A couple of weeks ago I was surfing around Facebook and alighted on the Lead Pouring Techniques page, immediately noticing a guy named Brett Johnson, was selling big, one-ounce roundball heads. The price was so reasonable I figured I couldn’t afford NOT to buy some.
Since I want to fish the Detroit River for walleyes next spring and in subsequent springs, I bought a couple hundred. I didn’t need 200. The package arrived in the mail and was so heavy my wife couldn’t get it out of the mailbox. Quick calculation shows 200, one-ounce jigs equals 12 1/2 pounds.
Brett did such a good job on them that last week I ordered some small “darter” heads from him. I wanted a jig I could bury in the nose of Ned Rig TRDs. Haven’t gotten these in the water yet, but I sure have had fun rigging them in my office when I ought to be writing. They should glide and slide their way into many a bass’s maw.
You can check out Brett’s wares by contacting him through his Brett M. Johnson Facebook page.
Results-wise, the best thing I bought from a lead pourer who frequents that group were some 1/4-ounce football head jigs. Last July, a tournament on Muskegon lake was coming up and I wanted some jigs in a custom color that mimicked a goby. Muskegon is attached to Lake Michigan and I figured goby-imitating jigs might be the deal to get smallmouth to chomp.
So I contacted Todd Voreis through Facebook Messenger. I’ve gotten to know Todd through fishing in the same kayak tournaments.
I sent Todd a picture of a goby and a few days later received some beautiful football heads with a brown skirt that had a purplish sheen and did in fact look a good bit like a goby.
At Muskegon I only caught one fish on it, a largemouth, but the following Tuesday evening that jig dominated. In typical fashion, I was late for a three-hour Topwater Trail tournament at Jordan Lake up north of Grand Rapids. I got on the water 10 minutes after the tournament started.
I had planned to throw a jig and the one I got from Todd was still tied on from the previous Saturday at Muskegon. A goby imitation wasn’t my first choice on this silty inland lake, but pressed for time, I took a cast along the first little drop-off out from the boat ramp—and caught a 14-inch bass. Although it’s accepted fact that catching a fish on the first cast of a tournament is terrible luck, I went on to catch a bunch of fish — all on that jig — and won.
So, I like Todd’s goby jigs and just ordered some more. You can reach Todd through his Red Oak Jigs Facebook page. With Christmas coming, treat yourself or anglers on your gift list to jigs that you designed yourself. The guys at the Lead Pouring Techniques page will be happy to help you out.
Outdoors columnist Dave Mull lives in Paw Paw. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.