January 17, 2012 by Steve Miller
Editor's note: This article is from FLW Bass Fishing magazine, offering tips, techniques and tackle reviews for anglers of all skill levels plus in-depth features on the pros of the sport.
Although they hail from opposite sides of the country, National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of California and Chevy pro Bryan Thrift of North Carolina are both proficient with using jerkbaits in cold climates. Their styles differ, but each has developed tried-and-true wintertime techniques.
"I rely on two different lures: a Lucky Craft Pointer 100DD for deeper presentations and a Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 112MR for shallower ones."
"I prefer nasty weather. Fish seem to hunt the most during bad cold fronts, when it is windy, raining and even snowing. They do not have to burn as much energy as they would chasing prey on a bright sunny day."
"I seek steeper banks or bluff ends - where a channel swings close to a bluff bank and then swings back out into open water. I'll start in deeper water and then move shallower until I find the fish. Later in the spring, I will cover water along staging banks."
"Most people use a basic retrieve like one jerk and a pause, or jerk-jerk-pause. I'll start with something like a jerk-jerk-pause-jerk-pause and vary it until I can learn from the fish what they want. I think variation is important."
"When it's sunny I like transparent finishes such as ghost minnow or aurora ghost wakasagi, which has a little more flash. If it's cloudy or the water has some slight color to it I will use chartreuse shad."
Rod: Lucky Craft TLC 6-foot, 10-inch MLXF and Lucky Craft TLC 6-foot, 11-inch MLXF
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo Premier 7.1:1
Line: 10- to 12-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon
"I'll cast the lure out, start my normal retrieve, and then burn the bait in for 10 or 15 cranks of the reel handle. It is like playing with a cat. You can pull it by them slowly and not get any response, but making it move really quickly will get the cat to pounce on it."
"I've been using the Megabass Vision 110 lately, but Damiki just came out with the Tokan Minnow 90, and I look forward to using it this year."
"Once the water temperature gets lower than 52 degrees, the fish will start suspending. When that happens, I'll use a suspending jerkbait in all conditions - sun, rain, wind - it doesn't matter."
"In the winter I am looking for the presence of baitfish. All other factors are secondary. When it gets a little warmer, I will start looking for gradual sloping points or staging banks as fish prepare to spawn."
"Most of the time I'll start with a medium-to-fast retrieve, pausing two or three seconds between each twitch. Once I find the fish I will slow down, sometimes as long as 10 or 15 seconds between twitches."
"I rely on two colors mainly: a translucent natural shad pattern for clear water and something with chartreuse in it for stained water."
Rod: Damiki Dark Angel 6-foot, 6-inch MH
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo STX 7.1:1
Line: 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon
"When I want a lure to have the same action and sink rate, but tilt up or down, I'll tweak the hook size. If I want a lure to sit nose up, I'll put a bigger hook on the back split ring. If I want it to sit nose down, I will put a bigger one on the front."