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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a picture of the Cotee brand of breakaway jig. This one is rigged with a straight hook and is not much different than what we use in Louisiana but with a bigger circle hook and a bigger lead usually. Robert can probably post a better pic of what is most often used over there. But this will give you an idea I think.


18 Posts
The company made a modification to the lure as seen in the picture. They first changed the ratio of lead and tin mixture as the “ears” were too soft and the jig was falling off prematurely.

They then removed the ears all together and used just a small (hollow) half moon that you attached a zip tie to (8lb breaking strength cable tie) the hook. The company has since stop making the lure as of two years ago.

Hook type is of personal choice, but as the state’s data point’s out-most guides use 7/0 to 8/0 circle hooks. All jig tournaments are circle hooks only format.

The lure was a spin off a 12-Fathom breakaway. Through some business competition issues/payback, Cotee (the jig giant) only manufactured the lure to put a hurt on 12-Fathom (a small mom and pop jig company). Once they achieved a regaining of their market name-they had no purpose to make an expensive lure that was only used in a small place for a short time. Simple business.

It is important to note, the “breakaway” jig as well as the “breakaway” gear of the livebaiters is now illegal. This law was put into place for environmental reasons---effective July1, 2004 (but get this---for the months of April, May and June only). No one at the meetings could/would argue that it was good for the environment…though we pointed out that we were cleaning it up. I really think the commissioners’ thought that would make the controversy go away-but it did not.

While dropping lead is effective for better landings of tarpon-once the commission found out that both sides were polluting the Gulf-they outlawed it. This was a major reason why we starting cleaning up the bottom 3 years ago. We knew once the state stepped in to microscope the fishery---there was going to be some issues with the intentional dropping of lead (we thought that would come from some group like PETA â€"but it was actually the livebaiters who complained about the plastic tails-someone then said “what about the lead?”). Gun ranges discharge lead. That is legal-but they too must pick it up.

Jigs in the pass are nothing new. The earliest documentation of a true jig in the pass goes back to 1973 when legends like Lefty Kreh, Vic Dunaway, Herb Allen and Charlie Cleveland “discovered” that they out fished everyone around 10 to 1. MirrOlure founder, Harold LeMaster had experimented with this as well in the 60s. The canoe guides at the turn of the century were using weighted jigs or spoons and held their craft against the wind-exactly the way the jig is fished today. The jig-is far from “new”.

The “breakaway” came later, sometime in the late 80s. It was a direct spin off from someone who went to Louisiana and fished the “Coon Pop”. There are many people seeking to claim recognition for its invention in BGP. In this thread that does not matter.

They were first homemade by using egg sinkers and driving a nail into the sinker to serve as a “peg” to attach the soft bait. A wood screw eye was screwed down into the lead and the lure was attached to the hook with soft copper wire and then later, a zip tie. 12-Fathom (named after the 72 foot hole of BGP) was already making conventional jigs for BGP tarpon well before the “breakaway” invasion. As the effectiveness became clearly evident, 12 Fathom commercially produced the “breakaway”. Since, there are several ppl who commercially make them in their garage in addition to 12-Fathom still producing them today.

With the rule change, it will be back to a conventional jig.

Be on guard, there is a movement to remove ALL lead from fishing as federal law. That law does already exist in states such as New Hampshire. There, the animal rights activists got lead banned from state waters because a couple of cormorants had some lead fishing gear caught in their gullet. As fishermen, the practice of intentionally dropping lead is not something you want your local activists to be aware of as the intentional part really gets under ppl’s skin. Who can argue that? Unless of course, you clean it up.


2,358 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Robert: I think this goes back to "Be careful what you wish for" as far as the bait guys go. What are they going to do if they can't attach a break-away egg sinker. Are they just going to put on on the line and hope for the best? What are you jig guys going to do? Regular jigs with regular hooks? Any ideas?

As far as the lead thing goes, as opposed to banning them all together, I think Texas (and I may be wrong on this) has simply outlawed certain sizes... i.e. smaller ones. Or at least there was a movement to do this. I heard this some time ago, but haven't had any problems getting little sinkers to take the kids fishing so I'm not sure if this ever really came about here.

Here is an article about the ****-pop and its invention:

October 4, 2000
CHASING LEAPING GIANTS; One of the best at catching tarpon, Lance '****' Schouest, knows they
aren't easy to find or a land, but that's a large part of the attraction in tracking down 'silver kings'
By Aaron Kuriloff; Staff writer
When the first crash of thunder reverberated through the "Mr. Todd" and the sudden storm lashed the vessel's deck
with rain, the sea came alive with tarpon.
If fish roam in schools, this was the St. Augustine High Marching 100. Silver scales flashed like bugles in a second
line an acre wide. Fish the size of tubas porpoised across the surface, soaring and plunging in uniform ranks.
Lightning cymbals crashed. Rain drummed the decks.
"Woooooweeeeee," shouted Lance "****" Schouest, by near-universal acknowledgment the state's best tarpon
angler. "Ain't that awesome?"
Schouest dreams about these fish sometimes, the ones anglers call the "silver kings." After long fights with the
leaping giants, after the big ones get away, the battles continue in his sleep, ever more recurring as the fall
progresses. Around October, due to a combination of environmental factors, some of the largest tarpon in the world
gather at the mouth of the Mississippi River and points west, chasing menhaden and rain minnows into the passes
draining from the shallow estuarine marsh. The fish roam the Gulf Coast from Florida to Costa Rica, but between
August and November, nobody knows a better fishing spot.
It's angling's equivalent to the pipeline at Waimea Bay, the course at Pebble Beach or Fenway's Green Monster. And
Schouest has ruled the West Delta for years.
Tarpon fishing is as addictive as nicotine, Schouest says. The fish are a remnant of the ocean's past -- armored
prehistoric creatures with the acrobatic ability of Cirque Du Soleil performers and bony plates in their mouths,
which can break hooks or grind off their barbs. They also have a fickle feeding cycle, meaning sometimes they just
won't bite.
But snag one, and the fish takes off like a rocket, leaping high into the air one moment, dropping 30 fathoms the
Such traits have earned tarpon a reputation as the most exciting game fish in the world. In Louisiana, the fish has
become part of local mythology. French settlers called it "le grande ecaille" -- Great Scale -- for the shingle-sized
plates protecting its flanks. An original proposal suggested naming the local NFL franchise the New Orleans
The Schouest family, too, is part of the mythology.
"His father 'Poppa' Joe is considered, in tarpon circles, to be the guy who invented tarpon fishing in Louisiana," said
Susan Villere, who, fishing with Schouest's brother, Chris, won "Fisherette of the Year" honors at the 2000 Grand
Isle Tarpon Rodeo. "**** followed in his footsteps, and then he invented the lure everybody uses. Between the
three of them, they've caught I don't know how many of the top fish in the state. They just know so much about it.
They seem to be able to smell tarpon."
Has eyes for tarpon
Or see them. Above his barrel chest and round belly, anglers say, Schouest boasts a set of osprey eyes -- the kind
that can spot a sliver flash on a foggy day over a heavy ground swell. He developed the skill during 20 years spent
roaming the West Delta in the Mr. Todd, eyes fixed to the horizon. Squinting has given him crow's feet.
"We call it tarpon fishing, but it's really tarpon hunting," he shouted over the roar of the diesel engine. "You've got
to find 'em first."
This is the way he fishes -- cruising like a Nantucket whaler with a lookout in the crow's nest. It's a method he
learned from his father when the two first tried tarpon fishing together in 1973, back when nobody else was doing it.
They each caught three. Everyone started talking about the Schouests and their big silver fish. And the hook set
Almost three decades later the family still fishes together. On a recent morning, as Schouest set out of Venice before
dawn, his brother and father prepared their own vessel nearby. Of three tarpon boats leaving Venice that morning,
two held Schouests.
As they left they discussed the day's plan over the radio. Because of the difficulty inherent in searching hundreds of
miles of open water for a few fish, tarpon anglers share a lot of information. The boats roamed aimlessly for a while,
within sight of the lighthouse at Port Eades, while Schouest checked a few likely spots. At 6:58 a.m. he dropped his
binoculars, picked up the VHF microphone and sent out the call: P.I., positive identification. Schouest had found the
Nothing on earth resembles a school of tarpon traveling along the surface, Schouest says. The swooping arcs of
dolphin come close, but dolphin move languorously while tarpon race. Biologists say the motion helps their
breathing -- the fish gulp air on every roll. It also helps them feed. Hunting in packs, they chase menhaden and rain
minnows into great underwater balls, then attack, hundreds at a time, from all sides.
The tarpon were feeding when the Mr. Todd arrived, with the top layer of the bait ball thrashing on the surface. The
tarpon roamed the perimeter like sentries, some rolling on the calm, sunlit surface, others visible as six-foot shadows
beneath. Schouest cut the engine upwind of the tumult, letting the boat drift into the foaming water slowly. Then he
grabbed poles. Time for the **** Pop to go to work.
Making a better bait
Years ago, the company that made Schouest's favorite bait went out of business. So he built a large jighead -- a lead
No. 8 sinker attached to a piece of PVC pipe -- rigged with a circle hook and a long plastic minnow. He added a few
BBs, so it would rattle in the water, attached a pair of googly eyes and revolutionized tarpon fishing.
In 1990, Venice angler Dave Ballay caught 100 tarpon in a single season, the rough equivalent of hitting 60 home
runs or maintaining a season batting average over .400. He credited **** Pops with making the feat possible. Eight
of the top 10 tarpon in the state have since been caught on the lure.
Schouest never made a dime off the lure. At the time, he didn't have the money for a patent application.
"I didn't make the bait to go into business. I made it to catch fish," he said.
It works. Schouest and his anglers sent four of those **** Pops into the midst of the circling fish. John Toomey got
the strike.
Toomey, a Mobile, Ala., angler who likes to introduce himself as "the No. 1 tarpon fisher in Alabama," hollered
"fish on" as his rod bent. Schouest's driver, George Bertucci, who once drove the USS Mississippi for the Navy,
grabbed the helm, backing down on the fish, which nearly spooled Toomey's reel in its first run. There was a 20-
minute struggle. The fish leaped once, twice, three times. After each jump, it dived deep, tearing more line from the
Finally, Toomey brought the 130-pounder alongside. As it lay exhausted in the water, Schouest reached down with a
pair of pliers and plucked a single shining scale from the creature's flank.
Then he slipped the hook and let the fish swim away. The scale went into a test tube Schouest marked with the date,
time and location. Later, he'd send it to Texas A&M, where researchers are studying tarpon in the hopes of
instituting a captive spawning program. Habitat loss and overfishing have hurt populations in recent years, leading
most anglers to practice catch-and-release methods. Guides have been enlisted to provide data.
Schouest, of course, is a star data provider.
"If we had a bunch of **** Schouests, we'd have known a heck of a lot about tarpon years and years ago," said
Andre Landry, who runs the A&M study. "He's just a gold mine of information."
And fish, too. When the Mr. Todd turned toward shore for the afternoon, its crew had hooked four tarpon and landed
two. Compliments crackled in across the VHF from Poppa Joe and Chris. Schouest just grinned. Still the best.
"**** Schouest has seen hundreds of thousands of tarpon, and he still gets as excited about each as if it was the first
one," said Villere.
Copyright 2000 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company
Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA)


And I don't mean to offend anybody here, but I've fished with some of the best in Boca Grande, in Galveston, fished a lot in Louisiana and in my personal opinion, Lance "****" Schouest is, without a doubt, the best tarpon fishing guide in North America.
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