Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Each year after ice out in the North, we start to see largemouth and smallmouth bass show up in the shallows in pre-spawn mode. There have been many traditional ways to catch these fish and also some unconventional ones that on certain days can outproduce what is generally thought to be the standard.
Traditional methods have always involved plastics, such as worms, wacky rigs, tubes, and now ned rigs. These often are used to sight fish and also to just cover areas that are known spring staging areas. The issue with these methods is that they are all fairly slow presentations. If the fish are where you start and your method is working then you are good to go, but if you do not find fish right away, it can be an enduring process to locate fish under these methods.
An unconditional method which has become more popular is the use of the jerkbait. A jerkbait allows you to cover the top portion of the water column over areas that should produce. It also provokes strikes from bass that may be lethargic due to cold water temps rather than letting a bait sit in front of their face. Span casting as you either cross an area with your electric motor or quietly drift through seems to be the best way to cover the water until you find a concentration of fish.
The jerkbait also allows for a lot of color options to help provoke fish. The most popular are either natural or very bright. I have found that a combination of the two works best on most days for me. I use custom painted baits that are natural in color on the back and belly but have a very bright lateral line. This lateral line may be bright yellow, pink, purple, chartreuse, etc. The horizontal profile just gives better results than a vertical pattern like a perch pattern or others. It also gives the appearance of a fast moving bait that is getting away when it is really moving erratically at the same speed of the others.
As you work through this spring bass fishing season, give some jerkbaits a try when your slow presentations are not producing. Also, get some horizontal patterned baits and see what you think.
Stay safe everyone.