Many anglers have been throwing minnow baits (now commonly called jerkbaits) such as Rebels and Rapalas since their early days of bass fishing. Though originally designed as either a floating or sinking bait, astute bass fishermen quickly determine a little modification to these minnow baits provides a lure that can be more effectively fished at intermediate depths.
Once modified, the altered minnow bait would then either rise much more slowly or sometimes suspend at depth (of lucky enough to get the weight balance right).
Even though is provided an answer to the intermediate depth problem, it was less than a perfect solution. The modification process was by trial and error and sometimes the jerkbait minnow lure was rendered useless during alteration. Usually a costly effort in both and money!
Are Suspending Jerkbaits Really Special?
The answer … absolutely yes! These baits provide the angler with one of the true “multi-use” tools found in their tackle box. Jerkbaits will work in any season as along as the presentation style is adjusted to the environmental conditions existing at that moment.
Remember that bass are cold-blooded creatures meaning to a large extent, their environment controls their metabolism. This fact is especially important during cold water periods (late Fall through early Spring) since metabolism impacts the reaction speed and feeding tendencies of bass during these seasons.
Another key factor supporting the use of minnow-style jerkbaits during the late Fall – early Winter transition relates to the change in dominant forage to schools of baitfish.
Suspending jerkbaits are a tool where not only the speed of retrieve can be varied, it can also be stopped for seconds at a time giving sluggish fish that extra moment to “make their move”. Often times a slow retrieve, snap cadence coupled with a long pause triggers reactions during these cold water periods when other methods fail.
Because of these characteristics, many anglers bass fishing during the late season use jerkbaits until the water dips into the mid to upper 30s.
Companies Producing Suspending Jerkbaits …
To be honest … there are lots of them including Pradco (manufacturer of Rebel, Smithwick, Bomber), Rapala (Husky Jerks & X-Rap), Yozuri (Crystal Minnows), Lucky Craft (Pointer) to name a few. These lures come in a variety of sizes and colors, therefore it is fairly easy to “match the hatch” and select the proper size and color pattern needed for your local forage and water conditions.
Tips and Tactics When Fishing Jerkbaits For Late Season Bass …
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when fishing jerkbaits in the Fall and early Winter:
- Use coloration patterns to match the local baitfish staying with more natural patterns in clear water and brighter patterns (red, orange, chartreuse) as the water clarity decreases;
- Fish jerkbaits around isolated cover on main lake points and flats, lower ends of major feed creeks and parallel to steeper banks;
- Vary the speed and cadence of the bait and remember long pauses throughout the day to adjust to slight changes in the reaction tendencies of the bass;
- Watch your line! Using long pauses when fishing suspended jerkbaits for bass is sometimes like fishing plastic worms where the line only jumps when the bass inhales the lure;
- Use a fairly long, medium-light action crankbait rod with 10 to 12 lb. line (fluorocarbon in clearer water). The lighter action rod can provide an edge in hooking more of these sluggish bass than stiffer rods will.
Late Fall/early Winter bass fishing can be some of the best time of the water for a variety of reasons. One bonus is the relative lack of competition since many of your summer peers are off in the woods chasing game or sitting on the sofa watching the latest gridiron match.
Another pertains to the size of the fish caught. Though you may not catch the numbers of fish you do during other seasons, this time period usually produces better quality fish and often a true trophy bass.
Tight lines and full livewells forever!