Morgan has been throwing a jig to ledges during the summer for as long as he can remember, but he credits his friend Terry Bolton with helping him refine his technique.
Morgan has won more than $150,000 in his professional career by working summertime ledges with a jig. He's won or finished near the "top" in numerous events using this technique and says that if you're from his part of the country — Tennessee — you won't cash many summer tournament checks if you're not a proficient ledge angler.
When to Use:
The technique is effective from May through August, but peaks when the weather's the hottest, usually in July and August.
Where to Use:
Ledges are typically the product of creek and river channels, so natural water bodies seldom have the right terrain. Look for vertical or near vertical breaks. The real key is to have some type of cover on "top" of the ledge — such as stumps, shellbeds or rock — that will help to concentrate the bass and create "the spot within the spot." If there's current moving past the area, it's even better. The ledge pattern is best on river systems and lakes with hydroelectric dams that pull water during the course of most days. Morgan targets ledges that "top" out from 6 to 15 feet deep and then drop into much deeper water.
Morgan likes a GLoomis GLX 855 (for 3/4-ounce jigs) or 854 (for finesse jigs). His reel of choice is an Abu-Garcia Revo with a 7:1 gear ratio. The faster retrieve speed allows him to "catch up" to hooked bass quicker and control them better as well as let him bring the bait back to the boat sooner to make another cast. As for line, his choice is Gama Fluorocarbon in 14-pound test for most of his ledge fishing, but he'll scale down to 12- or even 10-pound test when fishing finesse jigs or when he wants to get a faster fall.
The Tennessee pro opts for a Strike King or War Eagle football head jig in 3/4-ounce for much of his ledge fishing, but will drop down to a 1/2-ounce War Eagle finesse jig when the bass demands a smaller profile lure. His favorite jig colors are black and blue or green pumpkin. For trailers, he likes a Zoom Super Chunk Jr. on the bigger jigs and a Zoom Critter Craw for the smaller models. When fishing the finesse jig, Morgan will often strip most of the appendages off the Critter Craw to keep the profile small and allow for a faster fall. Blue and green pumpkin are his favorite colors for the trailers.
The key to ledge fishing for Morgan is to locate that special something different that will draw bass to a certain part of the ledge. Using his electronics, he looks for stumps, rocks or any other cover that a bass might call home or use as an ambush point. Current that washes past that section of the ledge and cover can be critical, too. To improve the ledge fishing on your home waters, Morgan recommends planting your own brush to concentrate the bass and suggests that you place it away from other known cover so that other anglers won't benefit from it. During the early period for this pattern (from May into June), the bass may be schooled up in large numbers on these spots. By the hottest part of the summertime, though, the pattern will typically produce no more than one or two fish per spot, though they should be big ones. As for his retrieve, Morgan experiments until he finds what the bass want on that particular day or even during a particular hour. His retrieves range from crawling the jig over and through every piece of cover to hopping or "stroking" it several feet off the bottom. Generally, though, he advises that you slow down the retrieve when you reach any cover and give the bass plenty of time to find and eat your bait.
One More Thing:
During the hottest part of the summer, you should actually look shallower for ledge bass. The thermocline will help to push them up into water as shallow as 6 feet. Before and after the dog days, though, they'll likely be deeper.