RIDGELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – Before you can catch a fish, you have to have the right bait. We dug worms when I was a kid, but serious fishermen and women have the ability and talent to make their own bait. This weekend, there’s a contest at Pelican Cove Grill in Ridgeland to see who the best in the nation is at making their own lures. Mike Jones has put this competition together.

“This is our first Mississippi annual hand tied jig competition. It’s never been done anywhere in the country, and we’re doing it first here in Mississippi. Mississippi has the top six crappie lakes, so I wanted to do it right here on the beautiful Ross Barnett in Ridgeland, Mississippi, at the Pelican Cove Grill that’s a partner with us,” said Jones.

The top lure and jig makers in the nation will compete to see who can win the judges favor by the way they do their craft. Mario Vitale is in the state from Illinois. This is an art, applied art, because you actually use the object you are creating to catch fish with when you’re finished. Vitale has been making lures for decades.

“Never really met anybody who showed me how to do anything. I just kind of picked it up and read books,” said Vitale.

“Everybody is tying the same kind of jigs on the same kind of head with the same kind of hook,” said Dan Dannenmueller, a judge.

The best job is judged on several criteria from how the glue sets up to a bunch of others.

“Thousand dollars cash for first place, $600 for second, $400 for third, bragging rights for a whole year and a beautiful hand carved trophy,” said Jones.

It all wraps up at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. There will be entertainment and door prizes all day.

Maybe that free admission will lure in some people who are interested in learning how to make their own lures and jigs.

The competition and show are going on Friday at Pelican Cove Grill on the Madison County side of the reservoir.