UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

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Locating Winter Jerkbait Water

Locating Winter Jerkbait Water
Randy Blaukat

Being the time seems right, I’d like to offer up with some tips on what to look for when targeting wintertime jerkbait bass.

Along with flipping flooded willows and bushes in the spring, my other all-time favorite way to fish is throwing a jerkbait during the cold weather months.

It’s not that I like to fish in cold weather, I don’t care for it all and would prefer 90 degree days with shorts and a tee shirt anytime.

But growing up in the Missouri Ozarks, I knew I had to get conditioned to getting out in the cold and mastering this technique – I had the best learning grounds in the country at my disposal.

Now, over 40 years ago when I first threw an old Spoonbill Rebel by a Table Rock cedar tree and saw my line jump as I paused it, my passion and enthusiasm for jerkbait fishing is as strong as ever.

Locating wintertime jerkbait fish largely depends on the type of lake you are fishing and the species you are targeting. Although I’ve spent thousands of days jerkbaiting Table Rock, Stockton, Lake of the Ozarks, Bull Shoals and Grand lake in the winter, I’ve also done it across the country extensively after 30-plus years fishing professionally.

Although down the road I may write a blog dealing with fishing jerkbaits in far northern and southern waters, rivers and tidal fisheries, in this blog I’d like to stay focused on wintertime jerkbait locations for man-made lakes that have 4 distinct seasons in terms of water temperatures.

Randy Blaukat

Below is a set of 10 guidelines I’m confident will help your success right now with your jerkbait fishing.

1. Pick your days wisely. One of the biggest things I’ve found about wintertime jerkbait fish is when you get one of those mild winter days after an extended period of cold you may be fired up to get on the lake, but don’t expect the fish to bite well. Cold water jerkbait fish can be caught on these days, but it’s much more difficult. The best winter bite occurs on cold, windy and cloudy days.

2. Water clarity and fish species will determine the depth of the fish. Lakes like Table Rock that have clear water and good populations of largemouths, spotted bass and smallmouth bass will have bigger populations of fish suspending over deep water. On lakes like Grand or Sam Rayburn that have mostly largemouth bass with a bit more stained water, the fish will not only suspend much shallower, but will come off the bottom to hit a jerkbait. A good rule of thumb is to fish flatter structures that run way out into the lake in a clear water situation, and very close to the steeper banks in more stained water. While these are the extremes, the angle of the bank and the distance off the bank will change gradually as the water clarity does. But this will give you a good starting point.

3. Wintertime jerkbait fish will usually be found using one or more of the following structures in a lake – points (both steep and flat ones), bluff banks and steep banks, in the guts or the middle of the coves. In each of these situations, the most important feature is having access to deep water nearby – even on the flat points.

4. The bottom composition (sand/mud/different sizes of rock) play a larger role closer to the prespawn. In terms of what I focus on in the dead of winter, I’m interested in how the structure (not the composition) rolls off the shoreline. This is what is important because the fish tend to be suspended and not bottom orientated.

5. I prefer wintertime jerkbait fishing on lakes with threadfin and gizzard shad as the main forage. Jerkbait fish on shad lakes tend to school in larger groups and position on structures you can pattern. On a lake like Murray or Lanier that has a big herring population, it makes the jerkbait fish scatter more and harder to catch. Wintertime herring jerkbait fish are notorious for being there one day and gone the next. This is not the case as much with threadfin lakes.

6. Go deep early. I’ve found that before noon many of the biggest wintertime jerkbait bass will come very deep. I’ll usually start out with a deep diving jerkbait like the Megabass Revenge or the Megabass Ito Vision 110+1 thrown on 6-pound Seaguar InviX to get the bait down. As the sun or wind gets up, I’ll move shallower onto flatter structures and return to the more traditional models like the original Megabass Ito Vision 110.

7. Water clarity will determine wind importance. Even in cold water, wind is your friend if the water is clear. While the wind chill will make fishing uncomfortable, it really helps the bite in water clarity greater than 3 feet. The less water visibility, the less the wind is a factor.

8. Study the slope. I fish a lot in the winter on Stockton and Table Rock lakes. One of the things I’ve learned, is you can pattern the slope of the point or bank you are fishing very well in the winter. This can change from week to week, but the proximity of your boat to the bank – whether it be 5 feet parallel or 100 yards offshore – gives you a great advantage in duplicating the best wintertime areas. These slopes will vary depending on wind, sun and changes in water temperatures and water clarity.

9. Keep an eye on the surface. In clear water lakes, the bass will school even in the middle of the winter. Last year when I was taking clients out on Table Rock for my instructional jerkbait fishing trips, we saw schooling bass in 40-degree water on many occasions.

10. Stay open minded. Although these tips will give you some good starting points, ultimately the fish are where you find them. Give an area 20 minutes or so, then move on. If they are not where they are supposed to be, try something off the wall. Keep an eye on your electronics when idling and running. Capitalize on opportunities as they arise.

Best of luck!

Tags: randy-blaukat  blog 

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