The question is, do you know what to serve her? The choices are many, including lures for the bottom, the surface, and in-between. In many cases “any” may work; but in this pre spawn period crankbaits are deadly. Crankbaits represent fresh meat, and after a long hard winter nothing gets Mama Pesce’s attention better than a taste of meat.
In the Pacific Northwest, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are just now making a quick transition from deep to shallow water. Most are within range of your crankbaits, and if you employ these tactics you can catch them.
There are many styles of crankbaits; but there are two that I wouldn’t be caught without during the pre spawn. The first is the shallow-running, suspending jerkbait, also called a “ripbait.” The second is the deep-diving crankbait in suspending models.
These are minnow-shaped lures and the hard- plastic versions that suspend work best in the spring. On any early season morning, upon arriving at a shallow flat, this is the first lure I send out on a search and destroy mission. Shallow depths of 2- to 5-feet are perfect, especially if they are littered with rocks and boulders, and are along the north shore of a lake or river. The availability of wood is a bonus that further makes a flat attractive to Mama Pesce.
With your boat positioned off the first break line, make as long of a cast as you can, preferably parallel to the drop-off, but on the shallow side. Stop your cast just prior to the lure making a landing, so that you have a straight line between your rod tip and the lure. Now point your rod tip at the water directly towards your lure, and reel up any slack.
With a quick downward or sideways snap of your wrists, twitch your rod tip low to the water surface to quickly jerk the bait toward the boat. As quickly as you load the rod tip with the jerk, move your rod tip back
ISSUE 1 February 2012
to your lure to throw a little slack in your line. After a brief pause, keep your rod pointed at the jerkbait and reel the slack by a quick turn of the reel handle. Then repeat the process.
Your goal is to make your jerkbait look like a wounded minnow, so be erratic with your retrieve. Try different sequences of jerks and pauses, until you find a rhythm that suits the mood of the bass for that day. Always keep your eyes on the lure, or if it isn’t visible, look at the spot in the water where it should be. You will either see or feel Mama Pesce when she slams your jerkbait, which is most likely to happen immediately after you pause your lure.
My favorite jerkbaits are the Lucky Craft “Slender Pointer Minnow” which I use over shallow flats, and the “Staysee 97” which excels off the deep side of the break line. No matter how clear the water or spooky the bass, the realistic finish and proper water displacement make these models exceptional at fooling big bass.
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