March is the time of year for jerkbaits and when the urge to go fishing becomes overwhelming just tie on a jerkbait and hit the water. The air is a little warmer and sometimes will even break the 50 degree mark and the temptation is just too great and you find yourself launching your boat after months of sitting unused in the garage. March can be tough on bass anglers and especially bass anglers who try the typical springtime techniques like jigs and crankbaits. These baits can work great but for March, when bass are beginning to suspend outside spawning bays, the best bait for bass is the jerkbait.
There are many jerkbaits to choose from today and you might have your favorite but whatever jerkbait brand you prefer there are several things to consider that can really improve your chances of catching more bass this time of year. Listed below are just a few things to consider when throwing a jerkbait in March and ways to modify them to get the presentation you need.
WHEN TO THROW A JERKBAIT
As the water begins to warm, during early spring, bass will begin to come out of those deep winter sanctuaries and position themselves along steep banks leading to spawning areas. Bass will begin this move earlier than you may think. Bass will notice the increase in water temperature and instinctively begin migrating toward their springtime spawning areas holding along steep shoreline areas. These areas are known as staging areas and will hold pre-spawn bass for several weeks leading up to the spawn.
Bass tend to suspend in these staging areas and choose steep banks so they can easily move from shallow water to deep as the water temps change expending the least amount of energy to do so. While bass are lethargic and sluggish this time of year they instinctively know they have to begin feeding to prepare for the rigors of the spawn. This situation is prime time for a jerkbait. The jerkbait will work all season long under the right circumstances but winter and early spring is the best time to throw it.
WHERE TO THROW A JERKBAIT
As mentioned above the best place to throw a jerkbait is along steep banks close to spawning areas. There are a lot of different situations during the winter to early spring transition and you must change your presentation accordingly. Knowing where the bass are staging is half the battle the other half is patience and presentation.
Bass can sense a change in water temperature of just a few degrees and during early spring will move up shallow as the water temps rise even throughout the day. Rocks will help warm the surrounding water especially after a few days of sunshine and creeks will carry slightly warmer water into the lake and warm the entire area enough to make a difference. This should be considered when looking for the most active bass during early spring. To further fine tune your search for an early spring jerkbait bite look to north facing shorelines. These shorelines warm quicker because it gets the most sunlight throughout the day. Combine all of these with the presence of baitfish and you are in business.
HOW TO WORK A JERKBAIT
There are many ways to work a jerkbait but during early spring when the water temps are still below 50 degrees the best presentation is a suspending jerkbait so you can work the jerkbait through the suspended bass and entice them to strike. It is important to pause your jerkbait during early spring. When the water temps are below 50 degrees the best cadence I have found is a twitch, twitch, pause, twitch, pause and repeat. The length of the pause is vital and you have to let the bass tell you what they want that day.
Another vital part of the cadence is the amount of action you give your jerkbait. Some days bass want a very quick and erratic action while on other days a slow and subtle action is the ticket. You can control this action with your rod tip. Quick twitches of the rod tip with slack in the line will impart a quick and violent action on the jerkbait while a slow steady pull and pause is a much more subtle presentation.
Another important consideration when fishing a jerkbait is the position of the bait on the pause. Some suspending jerkbaits suspend level while others suspend head or tail up. During early spring oftentimes there is a shad kill. This is common and a natural occurrence and for the jerkbait angler a time to land some really good bass. When a shad is dying it will dart a short distance then stop and slowly rise or suspend but its head is nearly always pointing up during this pause. This is why I prefer a jerkbait that suspends with its head up.
There are several ways to modify your jerkbait to get it to suspend with its head up. Some will suspend this way out of the box but many will not. The easiest way to get the head up on your jerkbait is with Storm SuspenDots. Apply one then test the jerkbait in the water and add a SuspenDot until you get the head to point up when it suspends. You can also wrap lead wire around the back hook or add a split ring to the rear hook eye. You can also replace the back hook with a heavier one. All of these mods will work but be sure that your jerkbait continues to suspend and not sink from the added weight. A slow sink is OK but if it sinks too fast it becomes more action than a sluggish bass will want and can effect the amount of strikes you get. It is the stationary and still presentation that triggers the bass to want to eat it so keep this in mind.
The jerkbait takes a lot of patience to master and while I have thrown a jerkbait since I was a kid I am far from mastering the presentation but there is nothing like a hard strike from a big bass when you least expect it and the feeling alone keeps me throwing it. When the water is cold and bass are making their move during early spring to pre-spawn staging areas the jerkbait is hard to beat even if it is hard to master.