Changing to a different bait and location put Ott DeFoe in a similar position last week – in contention to win a top-level bass tournament. On the opposite end of Lake Eufuala that he enjoyed early success, the Rapala® Pro caught two 4-plus-pound largemouth on a Terminator® Heavy Duty Swim Jig to make it into the trophy round of REDCREST, the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour’s championship.
“The swim jig was big during my Knockout Round afternoon,” DeFoe told majorleaguefishing.com.
Big indeed. After catching several offshore bass on a Rapala OG Slim flat-sided crankbait in the first 15 minutes of the Knockout Round, conditions changed and DeFoe changed with them. Had he not followed a hunch in the third period to run upriver on the Alabama reservoir and throw his Terminator swim jig on a shallow flat, he likely would have fallen below the top-5 cutline and not reached the Championship Round and earned the chance to compete for the tournament’s $300,000 prize.
“I came up the lake where the water was dirtier and moved shallow around some grass, swimming a jig,” he said. “I wanted to stay down there [on the southern end], because that’s what had been good to me all week. But I just had that gut feeling I needed to come up here and get where there’s some color in the water.”
Targeting submerged grass in stained water on a shallow flat with a 3/8th oz. Terminator Heavy Duty Swim Jig in the Bama Craw color pattern, DeFoe soon caught a 2-pound, 3-oz. largemouth to put him above the cutline with an hour left to fish.
“It is really the perfect swim jig,” said DeFoe, who advised Terminator on almost every aspect of the jig’s components and design. “This was something I was able to put my input on, to make a tool that I needed.”
Needing a couple more big bass to earn a berth in the championship round, the Heavy Duty Swim Jig delivered again for DeFoe, bringing in a 4-pound, 10-ouncer and a 4-pound, 6-ouncer. The first of those two bigguns, DeFoe sight-fished.
“I saw him sittin’ there and said ‘Well there’s a bass,”” DeFoe explained in the MLF Live! webcast of the tournament. “I dropped that jig right in front of him and he ate it. … I mean, clutch! Clutch, clutch, clutch! I saw that fish sittin’ there, just up there sunnin’, facing toward the bank. … I dropped that Terminator Swim Jig right in front of it and she ate it.”
About ten minutes later, DeFoe caught his 4-pound, 6-ouncer, also on the Heavy Duty Swim Jig. That bass and the previous 4-plus-pounder had both recently moved in shallow from deeper offshore haunts to feed, DeFoe surmised.
“That fish has just pulled up here,” DeFoe said, noting how light in color it appeared. “That fish has not been shallow long at all. And actually, you can still feel it still feels pretty cold to the touch. And that is a great, great sign.”
A sign that DeFoe was fishing in the right area with the right bait at the time was all the baitfish activity he observed on the shallow flat, a classic pre-spawn area to throw a swim jig.
“There’s so much life right around in here right now,” DeFoe observed. “In every direction, there’s stuff poppin’ and swimmin’ and chasin’. … There’s all kind of stuff going on in here right now.”
The flat he was targeting was located in a big bay that featured a lot of submerged grass and water-willow in one to two feet of water. “It’s all pretty much dead now, but there’s a lot stems and stuff,” DeFoe described. “And those fish relate to those when that’s what they’ve got. And they just get out on this flat and roam around and chase bait.” DeFoe went on to place 7th in the REDCREST tournament.
Terminator® Heavy Duty Swim Jig
Among the features that distinguish Terminator Pro Series Heavy Duty Swim Jigs are an inline line-tie and a balanced, hydrodynamic head crafted to swim through the heaviest cover. Those are “really important to come through the kind of stuff that you’re going to throw it in,” DeFoe explained.
Additional key features, he said, include “really realistic” banded silicone skirts,” a well-designed trailer keeper, a 3D eye, a quality nylon weed guard that’s “soft enough” and “gets out of the way,” and a “really super-strong” 5-0 VMC Hybrid Wide Gap Hook. “It’s a really good stout hook that will hold up for a lot of big-fish catches,” DeFoe says.
While swimming a jig is “one of the most effective extremely shallow-water presentations,” DeFoe said, he added that “you can fish it at any speed, any depth, in any type of cover. “You think of a swim jig, you think of submerged vegetation, but I’ve caught them around every type of cover on it.”
Conditions in which the Heavy Duty Swim Jig excels the most for DeFoe are still days with little to no wind. “Those fish don’t need a lot of aggressiveness, a lot of vibration,” he explains.