Ducks, jigs and Bama rigs

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Alan McGuckin

In my opinion, there’s not a better time to be an outdoors person each calendar year than right now. The mid November to early December time frame features not only awesome bass fishing, but also deer hunting and the start of waterfowl season — which I’ve treasured since I was a kid hunting “diver ducks” on Kentucky Lake with my dad.

Dad is a hard-working, Carhartt-wearing, aluminum siding contractor, and he’s wise enough to know that where we live in central Kentucky is not exactly a waterfowl mecca. So I’m forever grateful he took time to drive us over to Kentucky Lake where he knew I’d have plenty of ducks to hold my attention as a young hunter. 

As I got a little older, dad and I would hunt an open-water blind at legendary Reelfoot Lake in Northwest Tennessee, right off the Mississippi River. We shot a ton of mallards there over the years, and a lot of other species too.

These days, I spend a lot of time running all over the region with a bunch of guys my age that are passionate waterfowlers like me. It’s not uncommon for us to drive 100 miles from one day to the next to stay dialed-in to the best hunting spots.

But as you might expect, autumn isn’t all about ducks and geese — it’s also my absolute favorite time of the year to fish for bass. And from right now until March I never go fishing without an Alabama rig, and what a lot of us simply call the “little brown jig.” 

The big key is to find areas close to deep water with shad present. It could be a point, or it might be a place where the original creek or river channel swings close to the bank. Both areas usually prove productive, and if there’s a laydown tree near that point or on that channel swing bank, that’s even better.

A lot of guys throw their Alabama rigs on braided line, but I like the feel and performance of 20-pound monofilament a whole lot better. And while I have five lures on my umbrella rig like most people, I fish a slightly smaller version of an Alabama Rig and present it more like a heavy spinnerbait. It’s physically easier to cast all day long, and it allows me to fish it a little more methodically.

When it comes to the “little brown jig,” I like a 5/16-ounce with a fairly compact skirt and trailer. My favorite color is one Cumberland Pro Lures makes called green pumpkin/barbed wire. I tie it to 17-pound fluorocarbon line.

I think I’ll spend the next couple days scouting a place where we can shoot a limit of ducks by 9 a.m. on opening day, and then go set the hook on a limit of bass by sunset later the same day. Again, man, I just love this time of year.