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For ice fishing
Jigging for Togue
Jigging can be an effective tactic for catching large togue.
To jig togue you need a jig stick. There are commercially available jig sticks or you can make one out of a piece of wood. I have seen many jig sticks made out of old broomstick handles with two nails driven into the handle to hold the line. Attach 50 feet of 20-pound test monofilament line and a heavy lure to that stick, and you have yourself a jigging outfit. My favorite lure for jigging togue is a 2-ounce silver Swedish Pimple tied to the line without a swivel.
Most fishermen attach a small piece of cut bait to the hook, but I have had good luck jigging without bait. The bait can interfere with the action of the lure. Try it both ways to see what works best for you.
Find a location on the lake with 20-30 feet of water, lower the lure down to the bottom and reel it up about six inches. Start raising and lowering the lure about a foot with each jig. Every once in a while you should lower the lure all the way to the bottom to stir up a little silt as an attractant. Just keep jigging; when the lure is working correctly, you will feel a rhythm on the line.
Eventually you will get a hit -- when you do, throw off your mittens and bare-hand the fish up to the ice, keeping the line taut as you bring it up.
You will need to make sure that a big togue’s head is lined up with the hole before you try to bring it up on the ice. It can be quite a thrill to see a 28-inch lake trout swim by the hole. With the water magnifying the fish, those big ones will look as large as a small submarine.
The first winter I worked up on the waterway, my father and younger brother Richie came up for a visit. I set Richie up with the classic sawed-off broom-handle jig stick with a gold lead fish for a lure. He was jigging away when he suddenly got a hit. Instead of bringing the fish in hand over hand, he started running backwards. That fish came flying out of the hole and landed on the ice right next to the hole. Richie pounced on the fish before it could get away. That was one happy 14 year old with his first togue!
Togue are an excellent eating fish with cream-colored flesh. The skin, especially on big fish, contains a lot of oil and should be removed prior to cooking. Togue weighing 3 to 5 pounds can be cooked with the skin on because they are not as oily as the bigger fish.
I like my togue baked at 350 degrees, stuffed with onion and lemon slices until the meat is easily separated from the bones. My favorite is fish chowder made from the leftover togue.
Jigging will keep you busy when the flags on your tip-ups are not doing much. I am convinced that a skilled fisherman jigging will out-fish a person using live bait when it comes to togue fishing.