Waist deep in salt water, I gazed over the wide expanse of the bay, patiently
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Gibb's "Mudraker" Jig - Essentials for HalibutBy Hugh Partridge ,
At times, there are many advantages to using jigs over bait when it comes to fishing for pacific halibut. In fact, some West Coast anglers swear by using only jigs for targeting these mighty fish. The Gibbs "Mudraker" halibut jig is a time tested design that has proven itself over and over, throughout the coastal waters of British Columbia, as a very effective lure for halibut of all sizes.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to using jigs is the speed to which these lures will reach bottom, based on the weight of the jig. Many jigs often weigh one pound or more. Since in many instances halibut are found in depths of well over 100 feet, a quick decent means more time in the zone, and less time getting there.
For certain, the effective use of jigs for halibut requires a balanced outfit consisting of a sturdy 6 to 7 foot halibut rod (with or without roller guides), and a good reel (preferably a level wind) with ample line capacity. For examples of proper halibut rods click here.
Cutting corners on the choice of your rod and reel will often lead to sore wrists and arms, due to the requirement for an outfit designed to accommodate heavy jigs at fairly substantial depths. A well balanced outfit will make jigging for halibut seem almost effortless, based on proper leverage and fulcrum points in the rod design. With the proper outfit at hand, you are able to participate in a technique for halibut that has proven itself to be very effective, and in some cases essential.
One of the most essential reasons for using jigs for halibut as opposed to bait, is the type of ocean terrain that halibut tend to frequent. Halibut, while occasionally found in shale or mud bottoms, tend to prefer sandy bottom structures. Very seldom are halibut found on rocky bottoms. During the migration to warmer, shallower waters in the spring for spawning purposes, halibut will often be found on sandy shoals, in depths ranging from 60 to 200+ feet of water. These sandy structures are also often home to the rather bothersome pacific dogfish shark (a nuisance rather than a threat). On days where the dogfish are prevalent, it is almost a must that the angler switch from conventional baits to jigs in order to repel the scent driven dogfish.
Another reason, or perhaps theory, attesting the use of jigs for halibut is that continuous contact with the sandy bottom when jigging creates disturbances in the sand, which in turn will prompt the halibut to investigate. Personally, I feel that this theory holds some validity considering the fact that halibut seldom venture further than inches from the bottom in search of prey. It is only on rare occasions that halibut venture from the bottom in search of prey, and this behavior could be attributed to the halibut following schools of bait fish up from the bottom.
With the many reasons to use jigs for halibut, you can begin to understand why so many anglers often favor the use of jigs over conventional bait techniques.
The Gibbs "Mudraker" jig is certainly one of the most effective and versatile jig designs currently on the market. The Mudraker incorporates several proven design principles into one very versatile lure. The chrome bar weight (see illustration above) while serving the purpose of weighting the jig, makes use of a time-proven design. Perhaps one of the first jigs ever used on the coast for halibut and bottom fish was the simple "pipe jig" (often home-crafted chrome plated pipes, filled with lead, and rigged with a hook on the bottom). To this day, some angler continue to use the old fashion "pipe jigs" for bottom fish of all sorts.
Another proven feature that makes this lure often irresistible is the top rigged plastic skirt. With the skirt rigged at the top of the lure, greater action is achieved from jigging the lure, as the almost weightless skirt flutters back and forth with the motion of the lure. A secondary benefit to having the skirt rigged at the top is that the lure is less prone to catching bottom, as the bar weight prevents the hook from making first contact with the bottom.
A great feature of the Mudraker is the ability to interchange a variety of skirt colors to the body of the jig (see color chart below). Since depth and lighting conditions will often dictate the choice of colors used, anglers can be prepared for a variety of circumstances by having a choice of skirts on board.
Anglers who wish to prepare their lures with a favorite scent can make use of the innovative scent chamber found at the bottom the bar weight portion of the lure. Here again, use of scent should be considered at times and locations where dogfish are less prevalent. An alternative to using scent would be to attach your favorite bait ( squid, herring, octopus etc.) directly to the hook itself, as an added attractant.
Try the Mudraker on your next halibut fishing excursion and see why it has quickly become a mainstay for many BC anglers.
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