Spoon-feed Murray’s stripers

Deep jigging spoons is Tony Alexander’s favorite way to catch January stripers on Lake Murray.

Vertical jigging with hardware will put January fish in the boat

Some folks call it bottom-bumping, some perch-jerking, and some just call it spooning. No matter your preference, the technique of vertically jigging a spoon is definitely something striped bass fans should be doing this month on South Carolina’s  Lake Murray.

While the cold weather keeps many anglers off the water, it never turns the stripers off. They thrive in winter, and because the cold usually causes a substantial die-off of baitfish, stripers are used to getting their fill of food in January. They aren’t shy about biting at all.

Tony Alexander fishes Lake Murray year-round, and he changes his target species to whatever the hot bite is. He said in January, it’s definitely stripers.

“The striper fishing is hot this month, especially when it’s really cold. The colder the better. The key is finding the bait. Wherever the bait is, the stripers will be there, too,” Alexander said.

One way to find bait is to watch for birds. They are fishing, too, but they are mainly interested in the baitfish, who swim together in massive schools in the winter. Finding birds will take you to the baitfish, then, it’s best to use your depth finder to pinpoint the depth of the stripers, who will appear as large Vs under the bait schools.

And if the birds aren’t working, Alexander said to watch your depth finder, looking for holes that range from 20 to 40 feet deep.

“I use medium-action casting rods, Daiwa baitcasting reels, and 12-pound line. I drop the spoon to the bottom and rip it up off the bottom, let it flutter to the bottom, and rip it up again, over and over and over,” he said.

Berry’s Flex-It Spoons are Alexander’s favorites for this type of fishing, and his best colors this time of year are white, chartreuse, and threadfin shad. Depending on how windy it is, he will use 1/6-, 1/2- and 3/4-ounce spoons.

“Those spoons are made right here in South Carolina, and I love using the local stuff that works. And I like the variety of sizes they have. Then windier it is, the heavier the spoon you want to use,” he said.

A bonus when fishing this technique is that anglers will often catch some big white perch mixed in with stripers. While some people find them to be a nuisance, Alexander finds white perch fun to catch, and their fillets are just as good as the stripers for making fish sandwiches, he said.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.