Mo-Jo Rig a hit for Fox River smallies
Outdoors with Mike Norris- April 19, 2002
It was a thaw that stirred the Fox River's muskies into a feeding rampage for three days last January. Now the record heat of this past week has turned on all of the Fox's other gamefish.
Stopping along several of the Fox River's most notable dams, I found anglers are catching walleye, smallmouth bass and crappies with regularity. Most anglers are targeting areas below dams with jig and minnow or a slip bobber and minnow.
I tend to be inventive, always looking for better ways to capture a Fox River fish or two.
Having lost many a jig to the rocks and boulders strewn across the Fox River's bottom, I recently recalled a technique which has worked well for me last two years when tackling smallies along rocky breakwalls on Lake Michigan.
It's called the Mo-Jo Rig.
A Mo-Jo rig is nothing more than a small cylindrical shaped lead weight with a small hole running through the center. The weights come in sizes ranging from one-eighth ounce to one ounce. For most Fox River applications, the smaller one-eighth and quarter ounce will do.
Rigging a Mo-Jo rig is relatively simple. Fishing line is threaded through the hole of the Mo-Jo weight followed by a snubber, which looks like a toothpick and is made of rubber. Once through the weight, the snubber is pulled tight and both ends are trimmed off.
For fishing lively fathead minnows, a No. 2 Gamakatsu live boat hook is tied to the end of the fishing line and the Mo-Jo weight adjusted so it lies approximately 4-5 inches above the hook. Finally a fathead minnow is hooked through the mouth and up through the head.
Mo-Jo weights can be found at most retail tackle shops under the Bullet Weight brand name. At Bass Pro Shops they are known as XPS finesse weights.
What makes the Mo-Jo rig so special is that it rarely hangs up in rocks. If it does hang up (though it's usually the hook and not the weight), a shake of the rod or popping one's fishing line dislodges the weight.
Of late I've been working on my Fox River book, but with high Fox River water levels and record heat on the way, I decided to draw myself away from my computer last Tuesday. My destination was a large eddy located along a stretch of the Fox River below the St. Charles dam where I could give the Mo-Jo rig a try. The eddy extends out about 30 feet from shore.
With an underhanded flip of my six-foot Fenwick spinning rod, I placed the Mo-Jo rig near the edge of where the eddy broke off into faster running water. Then I reeled in the slack from my eight pound Berkley XT monofilament line, and began to slowly drag the minnow back toward shore.
I felt a pop, dropped my rod tip and watched as my line began to tighten. In less than three seconds, I set the hook and the rod doubled over. At the end of my line was my first Mo-Jo rigged Fox River smallie.
I lifted the fish from the water and measured her from tip to tail. Eighteen and three-quarter inches. Not bad, I thought, as I released the fish back into the river.
In the next three and one-half hours I caught and released eight more smallies, though none exceeded fourteen inches.
I considered the Mo-Jo rig experiment a success. I didn't lose one rig and had a pretty decent catch. I did trim my monofilament line from time to time and retied the hook. The unforgiving rocks wear on the line quickly.
With the sun high in the sky and the humidity building it was time to return back home to continue working on the book, which by the way, should be available in area tackle shops within the next two months.
On the way home my thoughts revolved other inventive ways to catch fish on the Fox River. I remembered one fisherman telling me he trolls crankbaits for catfish in the summer. Another friend told me of pitching spinnerbaits along sandy Fox River shorelines for largemouth bass.
I'd like to hear of your successes on the Fox River. If any readers have an interesting technique for fishing the Fox River, or for that matter, great pictures of fish they've caught from this wonderful resource, I'd like to know.
Send your ideas and stories to me at P. O. 253, North Aurora, IL. 60542, or email me at email@example.com. Include a phone number and time I can reach you. If sending pictures, please include a return address. All pictures will be returned.
See you on the water!
Outdoors with Mike Norris is heard every Thursday from 3-4 p.m. on AM1280 WBIG. Mike Norris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org