Jerking Away the Winter BluesPrint This Post
Gone are the long days of summer and the shorter days have taken away some of our fishing fun! The weather is getting cooler and the water temperatures are dropping fast it seems. The number of boats on the water decreases as many opt to go hunting or just wait for warmer weather to return. But now is the time that the big hawgs can be found.
While the bass may not be very active, they never stop eating. With the colder water temperatures and gloomy days, bass tend to suspend, making catching them tough at best. While there are many options as to how to catch them, the jerkbait is a great weapon. It can be worked fast or slow and both will achieve their objective.
I know, a lot of people hate them for many reasons. Jerking them all day tires out my arms and shoulder! It is just too slow! I don’t have the patience for it! But the jerkbait can out shine all other baits this time of year. A jerkbait is just another weapon in your arsenal and you need to learn to take it out and use it.
The first decision is the rod. I have heard so many different thoughts about the length and action. Some want a medium heavy rod with a fast tip, because they want the bait to really react when they jerk it. Still, others want a medium action rod especially in the cold water. The medium action rod actually plays into a winter jerkbait bite, allowing you to not overpower the lure while allowing you to keep the bait suspended in one area longer. As to length of the road, it varies. With winter fishing, we put on more clothing, and as such a shorter 6’6” rod can actually work to your advantage. While others opt for a slightly longer rod of 7 foot. The main thing is to use a length that you are comfortable with and still not over power the lure.
To jerk or twitch? And how long do we pause? Yes! The basic retrieve we all are taught is to jerk, jerk, pause. And it works great, but during this time of year, we want to keep the bait in a relatively small area for a longer time to allow the bass to strike it. A jerk can be sudden and create a lot of motion, while a twitch can mimic a dying baitfish much better. A small movement of 8 to 10 inches with the rod tip can be just enough motion to entice a bass into attacking the bait. But since we are fishing suspended bass, our first thought should be to get the jerkbait down to it’s proper work zone. A couple quick turns of the handle should be all we need, then start your retrieve. And always twitch or jerk on a slack line.
There are so many different styles of jerkbaits and so many different manufacturers. And then there are even more custom painters who use a variety of different blanks to create their masterpieces. But we are looking more at two styles of suspending jerkbaits. The first will suspend in the 5 to 7 foot range and the second suspends in the 10-12 foot range. Line size will effect how deep each will dive, with lighter line diameter allowing the lure to run deeper and thicker will keep them higher in the water column. While the bass may be suspended in 15-20 feet of water, a dying baitfish can still draw then in from that far away in clear water.
A lot of attention is given to color and size. We are taught to match the hatch with everything we do. But remember, we are talking winter and cold water fishing. Bass will opt for a quick meal and especially a big easy meal. We can use color to also give the illusion of a size change. An opaque color will make the bait seem larger than it actually is. And a translucent color can make a larger 3 hook jerkbait seem much smaller. So experiment and know that you don’t need to have a hundred different jerkbaits to achieve success.
Cold water and jerkbaits can be one of the most productive set ups for winter time bass fishing. It can also be the bait to change a tough day into an unforgettable one in a hurry. But you have to pull it out and throw it to make it happen. Are you ready to catch some hawgs this time of year?