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Spring Football Season

Spring Football Season – Go Big.

It’s been scientifically proven that excessive swearing is a sign of intelligence – well listen the [expletive deleted] up because so is throwing a big [expletive deleted] jig in the spring.

It’s no secret a jig works year round, with differing styles of baits producing better during different periods – but it’s easy to forget about during the pre-spawn period when the fish are moving shallow and hangry. While everyone is focused on throwing hard baits like a jerk bait or lipless cranks, you may be tempted to try a living rubber jig – the pros have shown us how effective they can be in numerous Bassmaster Classics over the last 10 years – and you'd be on the right track - but let's up the ante a bit with a football jig. 

Yeah, that’s right – the big dog likes to eat in the spring too.  3/4oz? yup. 1oz ? Sure that too!  You’re probably thinking “why the [expletive deleted] would I be dragging deep structure with a football jig in the spring?” Well, you’re not. I haven’t got to that part yet. Maybe you should have left your impetus, devil-may-care attitude at the door. If, at this point, you’ve sufficiently checked yourself and found that you are indeed not wrecked, then by all means read the rest of the article before jumping to any more conclusions. [Expletive Deleted].

If we’re back on track now, I’ll proceed….


I throw a football head pretty much everywhere in the spring.  Weeds are usually sparse or nonexistent – so you can use it in 2’ of water just as easily as 20’.

It has a big profile – fish are looking for a meal, not a snack, so yeah, there’s that. Also, the big girls are out, so put something in front of them that’s worth their effort. It also falls straight down and falls fast.  This is important – you want a fast vertical fall as you’re trying to elicit a reaction bite or at least get the fish’s attention. Fish can be anywhere in the water column this time of year. You can also shake the jig in place easily to impart a little action while keeping the bait in 1 spot on days the fish aren't moving fast.


Early in the season when temps are in the low 50s, I start on the nearest steep break adjacent to wintering areas - especially deep breaks between flats or spawning areas. As the fish progress and water warms, I look for any kind of weeds or structure further up the flat or on top of the break.  On a warming day when the water is still cold, you can find fish in these shallow areas also.


When fishing a break, I prefer to make short pitches or casts to the top of the break. Let the jig fall on a slack line, give a few shakes, wait, give it a big hop (i.e. stroke it – stop it, sinner). If nothing bites, I’ll give it a short drag or few more shakes and then repeat. I will cast every 5-10’ or so working this way. Keep an eye on your graph – your boat will likely be over the deep edge of the break, if I’m marking fish I will throw some parallel long casts down along the base and vary between dragging and hopping the bait to see what they want.  If you get bit, make sure to drop a waypoint and saturate the area. Pay attention to when you stop getting bit. Fish this time of year are often in schools and moving along the break or hunting on the flats, getting out of the school may mean they are going the opposite direction you are – turn around and catch the rest.  Also pay attention to if you’re getting bit on inside or outside bends in the break or on the tips of points – you can use this find other schools doing the same thing.


I use a 3/4oz Red Zone. Lakes I fish are predominately clear – so I like a brown/purple, pumpkin/purple or brown/orange. You’re favorite color will do just fine. I trim my jig skirts about ¼” below the hook. I also pull about ¼ of the strands out of the jig. I match a hand poured trailer, but anything that has a good “thumping” action will do.  In cold water, I sometimes use a zoom super salty chunk – as the fish seem to like less action from the trailer when they are a bit lethargic yet.


Ok, so up until this point, you’re probably thinking “I can do this with any jig”. But, there you go, getting ahead of yourself again. Have some [expletive deleted] patience, it’s getting old and this is only like a 5 minute read, OK? Pop a few Adderall and focus.

No one throws football heads in the weeds – because they just get hung in the weeds, right? Well, in the spring – those weeds are just coming up or half dead from the winter – and they are sparse. You WANT your jig to get hung.  When it does, rip it. Just like you’re fishing a lipless in the weeds. It’ll come out clean, and often times this is what will trigger a strike.  And strike they will – that jig will be like the last natty light at a frat party (minus the Rohypnol). The football head will catch on even the smallest weed where other jigs will pull through clean - giving you more opportunities to snap it.

 ate it.

So now hopefully you get it – 1. Get their attention with a fast fall, 2. Peak their interest with a sizable meal, 3. Make them react.

That’s it. Get some Red Zones, go do work.[expletive deleted] 


Justin Keithley - Grand Rapids, MI

Justin is an athlete, a scholar and a black-belt in general, all around baddassery. None of that is true, but he caught a fish on a jig once so you can suck it. As if that wasn't reason enough to ignore everything you just read, he also co-owns West Michigan Bass


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