A Port Allen bass pro relies mostly on one artificial lure when cold water rules out so many artificial lures.
Brent Bonadona slowly dances or swims a Delta Lures flipping jig in January.
“Oh, January, man, I’m pretty hard-core with a jig. That’s pretty much my go-to bait,” Bonadona said.
“Well, you know, the fish are kind of going into a prespawn and feeding on bigger-size baits. The water temperature’s down, and once the water temperature starts getting into the upper 50s, (a jig is) really versatile for me, prespawn all the way into the spawn,” Bonadona said.
Even though it’s a flipping jig, he often retrieves it with a swimming motion, or he keeps it in contact with the bottom. People are surprised to see him swim a flipping jig, he said, but it works.
Mostly, he confided, he lets bass tell him how they want it.
“It depends on the fish, so it’s pretty versatile,” he said.
There’s another answer to why he turns to a jig in mid-winter.
“Actually, it was kind of forced on me,” he said, explaining that when he began fishing tournaments at age 15, he was going for quantity, trying for as many bites as possible to catch as many bass as possible. He soon realized that wasn’t adding up to consistent, positive finishes.
“That is my go-to bait and No. 1 moneymaker when I put it in my hand. In a traditional five-fish tournament, that bite you’re looking for, especially in January/February/March, that bait really shines,” he said.
Bonadona, 44, fished Bassmaster Opens for seven years before taking a year off to coach the Brusly High School fishing team. His son, Michael, fished on the team for three years, winning the state title and qualifying for nationals each year before his 2019 graduation.
The owner of Performance Auto Body in Plaquemine and Gonzale, Bonadona plans to fish full-time again starting this year. He is hopeful of landing a spot in the Costa FLW Series.
This time of year, he said, he ties on a 3/8- or ½-ounce jig.
“Their regular flipping jig, either black/blue/orange or black/red, and pair it with a Mister Twister Buzz Bug, a sapphire blue with the black/blue/orange jig and black neon with the black/red jig,” he said.
“The colder the water is, the slower I present the bait. The colder it gets, I get away from the 3/8 and go to a ½. That allows me to fish slower and deeper, staying in contact with the bottom,” he said.
Where does he fish it in January?
“I like to fish, primarily, I like to get away from the current, slack current areas or all the way to the end of dead end canals,” Bonadona said, “either in the Atchafalaya Basin and Lake Verret side, of course. Most anywhere you go, it’s good across the country (in January), except Florida — a real good bait to have in your hand.”
He doesn’t trim the skirt or the weed guard.
“I do not. I find Delta Jigs have got a big enough hook and (the weed guard) deflects the bait in cover. Really, the only modification I do to that weed guard sometimes is spread it out,” he said.
He ties the jig to 20-pound Seaguar flourocarbon and fishes it on a Lew’s Super Duty 8:1 reel seated on a heavy action, 7-foot-10 Duckett White Ice rod.
Bonadona said he doesn’t use braid in January.
“That time of year, I typically stay away from dirty water. In cleaner water, you don’t need braid,” he said.