Early Season “Jerkin”
One of the best ways to catch early season prespawn fish is with a jerkbait. From water temps in the 40’s, all the way up to the upper 50’s, is prime time for jerkbaiting. A jerkbait can not only load the boat if you get in the right place, but you can really catch some big ones on it!
The first thing to remember is that these fish are staging to move up. There are really 3 main places that I look for jerbait fish. The first are longer main lake points. These seem to be the first places that I find them. Until you find exactly where the fish are positioned on a point, you need to move around. Start by sitting in 20-30 feet depending on the depth of your lake and move in. Sometimes the fish will be suspended on top of the point, and sometimes they will be on the sides where it drops off. Keep this in mind as well.
The next place I look are rocky secondary “corners”. These are typically a little more rounded and sharper and sit at the mouth of a spawning pocket or flat. When you find them on these type places, a lot of times, there are multiple fish present. Normally, the fish won’t be as deep here. I like to sit a good cast from the bank and throw up to it, working the bait about ¾ of the way back to the boat and then making another cast. The fish have moved to these places to feed up before spawning so they are typically positioned shallower and are a little more aggressive. I start looking at these rocky corners when the water hits the 50 degree mark.
The final place I will look are wind blown banks or points. These type areas can be loaded with fish one day, and the next day are gone. That being said, make note in practice if they are on a windy spot. If you are catching them on wind blown areas in practice and the wind changes direction during the tournament, go ahead and try your areas, but be prepared to totally abandon them and start running new water. You aren’t really abandoning your pattern, you just have to fish the pattern.
When it comes to retrieve, it is really a trial and error deal. Obviously when the water is colder, you need to work you bait slower, less erratic, and with longer pauses. When the water gets into the mid 50’s, the fish typically are really aggressive and don’t require those long painful pauses of 10-20 seconds. One of the best jerkbait days I ever had came the beginning of April and I could not work the bait fast enough. The fish would hit the bait so hard, it would about take the rod out of my hand.
When it comes to the equipment, I prefer a shorter rod. I like the 13 Fishing 6’7” medium action Envy paired with a 6.6:1 Concept E reel. The medium action is very important so you don’t rip the hooks out of the fishes’ mouth, and it really casts great too. The Concept E will launch a jerkbait no matter the wind conditions, and the high speed allows you to take up slack quickly, which is very important.
If you will try these tips the next time you are “jerkin”, there’s no doubt, you will become a better jerkbait fisherman.