Peckler's Pointers: Suspending jerk baits the right choice

March 01, 2004|DARREN PECKLER

As spring works its way toward us, most fishermen begin to plan their first early spring trips. Around here, that usually means an excursion to either Dale Hollow or Cumberland in search of smallmouth.

As water temperatures edge upward into the 45-50 degree range, the smallmouth seem to become more active earlier than most of the other black bass species.

Beginning now, local fishermen will begin casting suspending jerk baits like the Smithwick Rattlin' Rogues or the Rapala Husky Jerk on the steeper shale or gravel points. The smallmouth will move up to feed on shad in preparation for the spring spawn.

The suspending jerk baits tend to be the lure of choice for three reasons.

* The first is because of their ability to cover lots of water quickly.

* The second is their erratic action will draw a bass' attention.

* The third is their tendency to suspend or hang motionless in the water, which seems to trigger an aggressive feeding response.


In addition, these baits can be used successfully by both novices and experts alike. Lure colors which imitate shad are a good choice in clear water. Chrome and other shining finishes will work best in bright sunlight while painted finishes work best on overcast days.

Remember, smallmouth often react to brighter colors than largemouth in clear water, so don't hesitate to throw something with chartreuse, bright orange or red on it. A deep-diving crank bait in a crawfish pattern can also be very productive around any wood structure.

The key to fishing any lure this time of year is to start off with a slower speed retrieve. In colder water, bass tend to react to slower moving lures. If you're using a suspending jerk bait, this means pausing for about 10 seconds or longer between jerks. If you're throwing a deep-diving crank bait, it means a slow to medium retrieve in order to allow the lure to appear sluggish and, therefore, an easy meal.

As the day wears on, you may need to increase or decrease the speed depending on the mood of the fish. When water temperatures begin to rise, fish activity will begin to increase and so should the speed of your retrieves. If you concentrate and pay attention to your presentation, you'll soon find that the fish will tell you what speed works best on any given day.

Thanks for reading, hope you've found something useful. Please wear your life jackets when you're on the water; they're called life preservers for a reason.

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