Jigging for summer stripers is one thing, but jigging them up in the cold is a different gig. As water temps in the mainstem Chesapeake Bay drop down in to the 40s those stripers start hugging the bottom down deep, and moving a bit slower than usual. Jigging remains an excellent way to target them, but only if you remember this effective technique for working that lure when the fish are giving regular retrieves the cold shoulder:

  • Locate fish at or near bottom on the meter.
  • Choose a jighead with enough weight that you’ll be able to confidently feel contact with bottom.
  • Cast out as far from the boat as possible, and let the jig sink all the way down until you feel impact.
  • Give the rod tip the usual sharp twitches, but allows the jig to fall back to bottom between each so it hops along, making contact every time.
  • The key element: as the jig falls, reel very s-l-o-w-l-y. While you want that lure to jump up and down, you really don’t want it travelling laterally too far nor too fast.
fishing in the cold
Get those December stripers biting, by using this modified cold-water retrieve.

What gives? Once water temperatures drop out of the 50s the fish hesitate to expend lots of energy without an assured reward. They really don’t want to go chasing after anything, so a lure moving quickly along the bottom will often get a glance and then be met with that cold shoulder. A jig that’s hopped up and down yet doesn’t travel very far, on the other hand, makes it easy for a meandering predator to strike with one quick burst of motion.