Few techniques are unique to a specific state or body of water, but ultra-finesse hair jigging for Wisconsin Great Lake smallies comes close.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. was recently featured as the number one bass fishing destination in the United States, according to the Top 100 Bass Lakes of 2014 by Bassmaster. The news came as no surprise to bass anglers who have had the opportunity to sample this fertile stretch of the Green Bay, but the lures and techniques often used to land smallmouth bass here as big as eight and a half pounds may surprise you.
In recent years especially, the talk amongst tight-knit local bass tournament angler groups has been hair jigs- and probably not the kind that you’re thinking of either. We’re talking about 1/16-, 3/32-, and 1/8-ounce jigs that look like they should be used for catching bluegills through the ice.
In order to gain a better understanding on the technique, I caught up with Ben Otto, a Shawano, Wis. resident and avid Great Lakes bass fisherman. Ben and partner Casey Gallagher also won the 2014 NABC Championship in October on the Mississippi River. Ben has been fishing finesse hair jigs in the Sturgeon Bay area for the last few years, and described the technique as one of his absolute favorite ways to catch big smallmouth in the early spring. While Otto notes that the more traditional tube jigs are a very effective way to catch Sturgeon Bay smallmouths at any time of the year, the hair jig often out-fishes the old standby by a landslide.