|In the right conditions, jerkbaiting can help you land big bass.|
Most anglers take their jerkbaits out of the boat once the water temps get around 50 to 58 degrees. This tradition has gained a lot of notoriety over the past 10 years. No question that the jerkbait is a standout in the coldest times of the year, but in the right conditions, these baits catch quality bass all year long.
The No. 1 element needed to catch big bass on a jerkbait is good water clarity. Due to the bait’s limited water displacement, slender profile and random action, bass ideally need to see the bait to track it and eat it. Now, I have caught some magnum spotted bass jerkbaiting in dirty water, but largemouth and smallmouth need the clearer water to effectively jerkbait year round. In the Pacific Northwest, where I cut my teeth in bass fishing, I learned that the jerkbait is outstanding year round with the right conditions.
Here are some of the most successful year-round jerkbait patterns I’ve seen around the country.
Surface Dead-Sticking on Calm Days
At 17 years old, I won a summertime B.A.S.S. Nation tournament in Washington state throwing a number 9 floating wooden jerkbait over a grassy drop off in 10 to 16 feet of water. Three- to four-pound northern strain largemouth would come out of the depths to snatch my motionless minnow bait off the surface. I could see grass 10 feet down, so I knew the bass could see my bait on the surface from the grass. The glass-calm conditions set up well for the “beeping” technique (allowing the bait to sit on the surface and switching the line slightly so the lure makes small rings and ripples while hardly moving).
About 10 years ago, I discovered the Lucky Craft Pointer 100SSR (floating bait) for this technique (better action, casting and colors), and it’s worked wonders especially out West, in the North and in highland reservoirs. In lowland reservoirs, this pattern can work in clear sections of the lake like around dams, marinas or bluff walls.
Sinking a Jerkbait in High Wind
Some people will not like me sharing this, but this is a deadly technique any time you have good clarity and a lot of wind. This well-kept secret has caught hundreds of 25-pound bags out West on lakes like Clear Lake. Take a Lucky Craft Staysee 90v3 (sinking version) or slightly weigh down (1/32 oz. or so) the front hook of a Flash Pointer 115 or original Pointer 100DD, and fish it around steep rocks, docks and drop offs in the nastiest wind you can find, and hold on. Find clusters of bait on these spots, and hold on. The falling bait looks like a wounded shad, and the biggest bass in the school will go after it.
Suspended Bass During the Dog Days of Summer
When the bass are surface schooling over deep water during the summer months (like they do on most lowland reservoirs), the small Flash Pointer 100SP is deadly. The faster and more erratic the retrieve, the better. The smaller size seems to work better on the summer schools for some reason – not sure why that is. I’ve done this successfully on Kentucky Lake to Clear Lake to Sam Rayburn.
Overall, jerkbaiting is a great year-round technique, and bass never see it from April to October.
Good luck and God bless.
– James Smiley | www.JamesSmileyFishing.com