Slip bobbers and Ice off trout
About 40 years ago my cousin Joe introduced me to “flea flies” bobbers and Bluegill. We would sneak into some ponds in the north of Denver, Broomfield and Boulder areas. Our tactic was simple. A small red and white bobber, an assortment of flea flies and some worms. We caught a lot of fish early in the season along with some monster bass. (I remember them as 10 pounders but they were probably 15-16 inchers)
Even today, there is something about a bobber slipping underneath the water that gets my heart pumping. When our trout waters are cold and the fish are not motivated to chase a spoon or crank bait, one of my favorite ways to catch them is to use a bobber and jig combo.
Slip bobbers give us the opportunity to fish ultra light jigs in deeper water. The jigs suspend at a preset depth and just hover right in front, above, or below the fish.
The key to bobber fishing is depth and location. Fish a wind blown bank with lots of rocks then just keep adjusting your depth till you find the fish.
This is a great bank style presentation to do with your kids and friends alike. It gives us time to visit with our fishing partners as well as catch fish. I wrote more details on my website, fishingwithbernie.com/blogs/bernie-keefe. Thanks for reading.
In the early 70’s my cousin introduced me to fishing. He would take me to private ponds and we would catch Bluegills, Crappies, and Bass with a bobber and Flea Flies. He taught me about varying the depth to find the fish, and to keep the jig out of the weeds. We caught a lot of large bluegill and some nice bass.
Even today there is something about a bobber slipping into the water that gets my heart pumping. It is one of my favorite early season patterns for Rainbow trout. Back then we just used simple red and white bobbers today I like to use slip bobbers they are easy to cast and set the depth with. You can cast a jig and slip bobber out and fish it 6-10’ with ease.
One of my favorite slip bobber presentations is a 1/64th ounce black marabou jig along with a small slip bobber. I like my bobber to be small enough to be partially sunk by my jig. When a fish bites it wont always go down. Sometimes a fish will bite it and lift the jig up then the bobber will go flat on the water. Split shot will help get my bobber neutrally buoyant but I might miss that “push” bite.
This is a simple rig, any rod reel combo will work along with 6 pound line. I like to use a Berkley IM8 Air rod A94-109ML a Sabalos 2500 spinning reel and 6 pound Trilene XL line. Slip on an Eagle Claw slip bobbers and bobber stops then tie on your jig. I like to carry a “tool set” out on each trip with me, which includes pliers, clippers and a hook sharpener. They do come in very handy.
When the water is flat calm I will manipulate my bobber with short twitches of my rod tip, rocking the bobber back and forth or a very slow reel for a few feet then let it rest. A slight breeze helps this presentation a lot. Ripples help conceal your fraud and the Rainbows loose a little bit of caution.
Although this is a great presentation I am not sold it is the best “search” tactic. I like to see some fish rising or at least have confidence they are in the area. I have done very well on wind swept banks near or on rocks. These areas attract fish to feed and the jig is an easy meal. Weed edges are a great ambush place for trout, I work hard on keeping my jig above the weeds and next to the weed edges. Some days the trout do not seem to care and will attack my jigs when they are 10’ away from the edges others it seems like I have to be right on them.
Although I am not a fan of tipping my marabous with bait, some times it does help seal the deal. Just make sure to put your piece of a worm or wax worm on the hook so it flows with the jig and not just hooked in the middle. Use small pieces of bait and the jig will still look natural. After all if I wanted to glob a crawler on a hook, I would not need any other material on the lead head.
Depth is always a concern using bobbers, if I am not getting bit I will start to vary my depth 1 ft at a time. When the trout are aggressive they will swim a long distance to eat but when they are not that jig better be right in there face. Fish sometimes are looking up in the water column. they might be 15’ deep and be looking up to 6’ deep for their food. They seem to ignore all other depths and will see something at their depth range, swim up, eat it then go back down till the next item on the menu swims by.
These micro jigs are deadly on early season rivers also. I like to use my 5 wt rod and cast the across deeper pools, let them swing down current and the takes can be very hard as the jig is rising in the water column at the end of your drift.
This is a great way to bring kids with you, it is also a great way to fish if you are getting ready to take a break, eat lunch or just want to slow down a little. At the East Inlet of Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National park there is a parking lot. This tactic is deadly all winter in the open water. My wife and I love to fish the Frazier river just outside of Winter Park.
Bernie Keefe is the owner of “Fishing with Bernie” a local fishing guide service.
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