I was mid-stride chasing a fast-moving blitz down Long Island’s North Shore, the crunching of pebbles and shells sounding like shattered glass as they grind between the packed sand and my studded wading boots. With eyes fixed on a ball of whitewater that seemed to be moving a mile a minute, I cast a Fat Minnow epoxy jig directly into the fray. Small peanut bunker leapt from the water in droves, followed by brief explosions of foam, and as I prayed for a drag-screaming false albacore, the Fat Minnow jig met the lip of a 25-inch schoolie striped bass.
In 2015 Uncle Josh pork rind trailers, well-known to surfcasters across the Northeast, halted all production of their pork rind products. This left a massive void in the tackle boxes of striper fishermen looking for durable trailers for bucktail jigs, tube-and-worm rigs, and more.
The following year, Michael LaBarbara and Todd Kowal, founded Fat Cow Fishing to fill that void. The duo met while working sales jobs in central Long Island and before long they began fishing together. When the news broke in 2015 that they would now have very limited access to their favorite jig trailers, the two honed their focus into creating custom jig strips for tipping their bucktail jigs.
Mike describes his first workshop as the shed in his yard, and after spending quite some time crafting, Mike successfully created scented custom jig trailers out of synthetic materials, and Fat Cow Fishing was born. As word spread of the new pork-rind replacing products, Fat Cow’s business began to take off, keeping Todd and Mike busy filling orders for surfcasters.
Even though jig trailers were in high demand, Mike wanted to design something similar to the small diamond jigs he enjoyed fishing from the jetty. The first time he caught a false albacore was on a 2-inch diamond jig, and while he became fascinated with these drag-peelers. He was also well aware of the struggle of targeting them.
False albacore feed on tiny bait, and can be very finicky feeders. This often requires a small lure presentation at the proper depth and speed in order to produce a bite. Like many surfcasters, Mike loved the realistic concept and design of epoxy jigs, but enjoyed the weight and castability of diamond jigs. So, he set out to create a jig with the look of an epoxy jig, but the weight and castability of a diamond jig.
With some material experimentation, along with proper weight distribution and shaping, Mike created the “Fat Minnow.” At 2 ½ inches in length, and available in ¾- and 1-ounce weights, these jigs have the ability to cut through heavy headwinds and to sink more quickly in the water column.
The Fat Minnow is small but dense, which when fishing for false albacore, makes it the perfect size as it can be skimmed along the surface during a blitz, or jigged through a deep current.
Fat Cow recently added to the lineup with the 1.5 ounce and 2-ounce Fat Minnow jigs. The slightly larger body and high density of the new Fat Minnow allowed for casts to fly further and sink more quickly, but more importantly, these new jigs are completely shatterproof.
Surfcasters who frequent jetties know the struggle all too well. A glancing blow off a boulder can crack or shatter some jigs, killing the action and rendering the lure useless for keen-eyed albies.
With these updated versions of the Fat Minnow, anglers from beaches to boats can fill their tackle boxes with the jigs in a variety of sizes and colors for more appropriate applications. While hardtails should beware of the Fat Minnow, there are plenty of species that anglers can plan to target as it imitates a variety of small baitfish and can be fished in a variety of fashions.
On a charter out of Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, anglers lined the deck ready to limit out on porgy for a quick inshore trip. Equipped with larger conventional setups and heavy line, I opted to fish my own seven-foot medium-heavy spinning rod with a size 3000 reel, a combo that could double as a freshwater bass setup. While others fished with large sinkers and high-low clam rigs, I used a bone white 1-ounce Fat Minnow jig, the attached treble with a shred of clam on it for scent; upon the first drop and nearly every one after, I hauled up slab porgies (and even some keeper black seabass) before limiting out on scup, while the high-low rigs produced less frequent, smaller fish.
Regardless of the target species, when the fish are keyed in on small bait it can be difficult to produce a bite at times. On this particular porgy outing, the fish seemed to be chasing small bait, and the Fat Cow minnow’s design allowed for a quick sink to the bottom in 25 feet of water with slow current. The same jig could be cast from a jetty and burned across the waters’ surface upon retrieve to try and produce a bite from albies or bonito; I have even used this tactic at a slower pace for targeting striped bass and bluefish.