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Itís Jerkbait Time!!
The when, what, where, how, and why of fishing the jerkbait.
By Eric Foister


This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish.  Late winter and Pre-spawn fishing can be just awesome.  To me there are two major reasons why.  One is that you can get on a load of bass and wear them out all day sometimes on one spot.  The other reason is itís the time of the year for your biggest bass.  The jerkbait is my favorite way to catch them this time of year.  It not only catches numbers but quality fish as well.

Whenever the ice leaves to a water temperature of around 52 degrees or so is the time I look to throw suspending jerkbaits.  Suspending is the key at this time. When the water temps get closer to 50 and above I have found that a Crankbait or a jig is a better way to catch fish.  However, as we can all attest to its important to let the fish tell you what they want. Last year was a prime example for me.  I was practicing for the BASS Weekender Series on Ky Lake on the Sat and Sun the week before the tournament.   I was on a solid pattern with a Luckycraft Pointer 78.  I had 20-30 bites a day with some quality fish.  During the week the water temp rose from 48- 50 degrees and the fish completely shut down.  I switched to a Crankbait and finished in the top ten with a solid limit.  Itís important to be flexible and open minded.

Also, when the fish leave the nests and water temps get into the 60ís and low 70ís is a great time to throw a balsa or floating type jerkbait and cover a great amount of water in search of Male bass guarding fry or cruising.  Itís a small window when the fish are in transition from spawn to post spawn areas. This is a great technique in clear highland reservoirs as well as the clear natural lakes as well.

My absolute favorite jerkbaits are the Luckycraft Pointer 78ís.  Itís just a confidence factor with me.  Five years ago practicing for a Fishers of Men Tournament my partner and were fishing a secondary point and I had just bought a Pointer.  I proceeded to catch 5 fish in a row on 5 casts. My partner was up front

Lucky Craft Pointer 78

 me and was using another brand of suspending baits and did not get a bite. It was a definite eye opener for me.  I am not in anyway associated with Luckycraft so this is not a sales pitch.  I know Rogues, Bombers, and the Wild shiners will all work but my number one bait is the Pointer.  If I am fishing a natural lake and want my bait to run shallower then I will switch to a Luckycraft Flashminnow for those applications.  I like American Shad on sunny days and gold on overcast days

In natural lakes as soon as the ice comes off I look for hard bottom areas.  Old lily pad fields, gravel flats, anything that has a hard bottom. I will also fish the edges of flats, inside weed lines, and channel mouths.   In reservoirs I look for main lake points, channel banks and transition areas of change in bottom content further back in the creeks in that order.  I will then try to run a pattern with what I have found.  Clear water and wind is crucial for your good bite on a jerkbait.  I like water with at leas 3 foot of visibility.  If itís murkier than that I will throw a crankbait instead.  Wind can be the x-factor. I ALWAYS fish the windy side unless the wind is coming out of the north.  Bright bluebirds post front conditions can be frustrating for any fisherman.  Whenever I have been on a good bite and a front comes through, I always look at inside turns of weed lines on Natural Lakes and the pockets off main lake structure on reservoirs.  The fish will sometimes suspend right smack dab in the pocket during this time.  This has bailed me out a couple of times.  

The cadence of how you present the bait will vary and change from day to day but here is my general rule.  If itís windy and overcast I do not pause the bait more than 2 or 3 seconds.  On bright sunny days I may leave the bait sitting still sometimes up to 5-10 seconds.  Let the fish tell you.  It can be hard to work the bait that slow but it will pay dividends in the end.

I have a theory.  There are two types of areas everybody fishes.  Feeding fish areas and areas where fish live.  This is a topic for a later article.  However, the fish this time of year are in a feeding mode.  The areas that you will find them will be where they are actively feeding on baitfish.  Thatís why you have to keep moving this time of the year until you find the fish.  Then stay with them because there may be a huge school right in that area.  The jerkbait triggers bites from actively feeing fish.  They will come a long way to attack the bait.

Stay confident when trying this technique and I am sure you will find the success I have had with these baits and presentations.

Eric Foister is sponsored by: Futurebass, Prowler Baits, and Shermís Marine.

Eric Foister
Huntington , IN