The bucktail jighead is a versatile lure. It’s not bound to any specific condition. You can confidently make it the one lure you always go to first if you’re a saltwater lure fisherman.
Therefore, the question is not so much, “When should I fish a bucktail jighead,” as much as it is, “When should I fish if I use artificial lures?”
Great question, and one I often forget to ask myself, since I consider casting a lure at any time of the day as superior to many other activities.
However, productive fishing requires logical thinking and practical application.
So, when is the right time to cast your lure into the surf or a river?
Predatory fish are hunters. They search for innocent victims to devour.
Now, the hunter knows very well that he is feared by his prey. The hunter realises that, if he should make known to his prey that he is in close proximity, the prey would make every effort to escape whatever plan the hunter has devised for its demise.
Therefore, the skilfull hunter has to make himself seem invisible. He blends in with the surroundings; he does everything in his power to make sure the prey does not notice him.
God designed predatory fish to be camouflaged; to be invisible.
That design incorporates various aspects crucial to the success of the hunter.
In the case of leerie, for instance, the fish has been designed with a silver body. If it looked like a carnival clown, it would have a hard time outsmarting its prey.
However, even with a silver body, the leerie still needs an advantage if it hopes to feed.
God levelled the playing field, see? The prey should have its chance to escape. The mullet, for instance, was also made silver. It also has a good built-in camouflage system.
But the leerie was designed to be higher up in the food chain.
It has a lot going for it: sleek design; good camouflage; lots of speed.
But no matter how well it’s built, if it does not take advantage of certain natural elements, it won’t outsmart its prey.
Which leads to the when.
Sunlight is a great blessing. It gives us light, which helps us see the selfish driver skipping the stop street or an oncoming truck the brakes of which have failed. Or name any other disaster. If we could not see it we would have a hard time avoiding it.
So it is for the mullet too, or any other victim the fate of which is infelicitous.
The prey needs light in order to help it see danger.
The predator capitalises on lack of light. He takes his chances when or where light is low.
With that in mind, it’s obvious that the best time of the day to fish for predators is either early morning or late afternoon, when the light is low and the predator is trying to capitalise on it.
This is true whether you’re fishing from the surf, from the rocks or in a river.
What else does the predator rely on to aid him in remaining unseen?
Think of a special forces unit. They’ve been hot on the heels of a killer and finally close in on his whereabouts.
They don’t set up camp and organise a braai outside of his house with a large banner that reads, “Come see us take down the killer!”
They lurk around the corner. They hide behind a bush. And when the unsuspecting killer takes one step outside of his safe zone, they pounce on him.
Such it is under water too. Predatory species look for drop-offs or structure below or behind which they can patiently wait for their prey to move outside of its safe zone.
A sandbank might offer a safe haven for a school of mullet, but if a powerful wave washes a mullet or two off the bank, it becomes food.
In a river, a hole or man made structure offers predators the perfect hideout. The prey does what it does–which is swim somewhere–over the hole or past the structure. The predator shoots a prayer of thanks to heaven and enjoys its meal.
It’s all common sense, really. Think in terms of a game of hide and seek between two parties and you’ll be able to figure out where to cast your lure.
In conclusion: look for holes when you’re fishing the surf; look for drop-offs and sandbanks when you’re fishing a river and look for open holes when you’re fishing off the rocks.
In a future article we’ll look at in which seasons you can expect most activity from saltwater predators.
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As always, tight lines!