Soft Jerkbaits by Josh Parris

Zoom Fluke
You could write a book on the various rigging options and techniques of soft jerk baits, but for time sake I’ll stick to shallow weightless tips for now. I have always stuck by Zooms super salty Fluke, it’s soft, durable, and has enough weight to be cast a mile weightless. I throw my flukes on a medium heavy rod paired with 10lb fluorocarbon line
Berkley-Floiurocarbon line
on most lakes and 12lb on the Delta and Clear lake. I like to use the fluke Texas rigged with a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook in both light and heavy wires. Many will say a round bend hooks helps increase hook up ratio, but I haven’t noticed a significant difference between the two and prefer the EWG. The light wire hook will give a great soft jerk bait presentation, working just under the surface. I use that presentation in winter and when the bite is tuff and I’m going more finesse.
Tullcoh Josh
Just like a hard jerk bait the fluke will pull fish from a long way, but because of its soft bait action it tends to draw more bites than a traditional hard jerk bait. I use the heavy wire hook during most of the year. Despite it being a heavier hook it actually makes the bait want to jump out of the water. The majority if the hooks weight is in the back of the bait and points the head at the surface. It creates a blend between soft jerk bait and top water. It will jump out of the water if given a hard twitch during the retrieve. Its possible to do a top water presentation with out a heavy wire hook. It just takes much more work on the anglers part and isn’t typically as controlled. When fishing heavy cover I like to skip the bait in to it and immediately start retrieving it breaking the surface. After a few pops I kill it and let it set for a few second. Ninety percent of the time as soon as it stops is when it’s going to get bit. In open water or on rock bluffs and spars cover I make a long casts past my target. I don’t want the fish to see or hear the baits entry. If my target is close to the bank, I cast on to the bank and pull the bait in silently. I work the bait to my target with the typical twitch twitch pause. When I get to my target I start jumping it out of the water followed by a brief pause. I try to mimic the conditions if bass are chasing bait I try to be erratic, on calm days or if it’s slow I use a more slower retrieve throwing in little busts of breaking the surface. With colors I throw two, albino white and baby bass. Most of the time I throw white because I can easily track it and most bait fish have some white on them. During post spawn or if the water is really clear and the sun is bright sometimes I’ll switch to baby bass. Like all jerk baits the fish are most times just instinctively swiping at it. Sometime they are completely missing it or just grabbing the tail. To combat missing and losing fish, I always try to wait to feel the fish before setting the hook. Most times if they don’t get it and you don’t rip it out of there with a hook set they will immediately come back for it on the next pause. Easier said than done when they violently exploded on it, but loosing or missing fish will quickly reinforce it. I almost always have a soft jerk bait on my deck, it’s a great search bait for covering water as well as follow up bait for a fish that missed top water baits such as Spooks, Frogs or Whopper Ploppers. I hope this helps, and good luck out there!
Josh Parris

Learn About Bass

First to catch more Bass it is best we understand what are the tendencies of these fish. A Bass is an ambush feeder. What this means is a Bass will hide next to, under, in or around a object he can disguise him or herself  with to sneak up and attack food!!

Examples: Under a dock, Next to a log, Inside a weed bed, In the middle of a sunken tree, Near a Rock or boulder in a shade pocket etc.

Now that we understand a little but about where they hide lets focus more on what they need. Bass need Food and oxygen! If these 2 things are non existent than so are the Bass. If you find food you find Bass. Some ways to locate Bass food , if birds are in a area and diving there is a food source there and Mr. or Mrs. Bass will be very near bye. If they have stocked the lake with trout you have big Bass candy. If you see holes in a clay or mud bank on the edges of the creek,lake,or pond most likely they are crawdad holes and Bass will be near bye. Baby ducks are food, frogs are food, rats, mice, snakes, bugs you name it if it moves and they can fit it in there mouth it’s food. Bass are like alligators with fins!!!!! Minus a few teeth of course.

Oxygen is important and Bass need this too! Areas that receive wind will create oxygen and can make Bass more active. Fish the wind its ok. Marinas with a lot of activity in the summer create oxygen. When this happens it stirs up bait fish like minnows and shad and makes the Bass active. Many fish are caught right in the busiest spot of the lakes creeks or rivers.

Spring Time Pre-Spawn

Spring time is almost here and we’re all ready for the pre-spawn. The first thing to remember is to keep an open mind when attacking a body of water during this time of year. Spring time offers three different stages of fish, pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn, at any given time, once the water hits 60 degrees.

The first stage fish will experience is pre-spawn. These are the fish I try to focus on the most because they are generally easier to catch than spawners plus they generally weigh a little more.

The water will warm the fastest in the north end of the lake, the prime areas to look for are pockets protected from the north winds that have a dark bottom. I always look for a migration route from deep winter holding areas that lead to the protected pockets and bays. A key cove would have a long deep point leading out to the main body with a channel in it. The important thing to look for is a piece of structure that will hold the fish in the pocket when springtime cold fronts move in and out, look for a rock pile or piece wood in the pocket near a channel, this will also give the bass a place to stage on their way up to spawn and on their way out after spawning. If you find this pocket with some kind of small vertical drop maybe 2 or 3 feet, right before the flat in the very back, you found a money spot.

A lake will not be the same temperature everywhere at once, which is the key to finding pre-spawn bass though out spring. The first waves of pre-spawn fish are in the back of pockets on the north end of the lake, the second wave will be at the mouth of that pocket. You can follow this pattern all the way down lake to the dam. Once that first wave begins to spawn, start moving down the lake following the pre-spawners. This would go first the north end, the middle sections, and then the south end where a lake will generally be the deepest. The other good thing about this pattern is the lack of fishing pressure. Most anglers try to catch those moody spawning fish because they can see them, however so can everyone else.

When it comes to lure selection I keep it simple, Big baits. These fish are Big, shallow and more aggressive now than they will be at any other time of year. Swim baits,Persuader spinner baits, big rip baits, big jigs, and big senkos. If you usually throw a 4 inch worm on a drop shot rig for these fish, go up to a 6 inch worm or go from a 4 inch senko to a 7 inch senko. This is the time of year that the T-bone vs. a hot dog theory is very true. A big fish is just like us, a full grown fish will want a meal.  I will pass up a hot dog to have one big juicy T-bone steak; the big pre-spawn females are the same way. As a rule I tend to stay with natural colors.  Also I try to have a little amount of red flake in all my worms, senkos, and jigs to help it look more like a crawdad. Crawdads and trout are high protein meals that help females nourish their eggs.

When you find an area that has bigger than average size males beginning to make nests slow down and fish the outside breaks and cover, close to them, thoroughly. This area is where the big girls sit and feed until conditions are just right for spawning.  Big alpha males attract the biggest females and those big pretty females want those prime spawning areas belonging to the biggest males.

Follow the pre-spawn, throw big baits, and be patient; you’ll get a big picture fish. Hint: this is also the time of year when planted rainbow trout find themselves using the same waters as GIANT largemouths.

Spring Time Bass Perspective

As we transition from the cold months of winter so do the Bass. Bass begin to prepare for the spawning ritual. Bass will begin to move from the deep waters of the main lake where they have been wintering to protected bays that will be warm sheltered from the cold northern winds and have fertile soil with a hard bottom. This will begin as early as February in the southern lakes and to April or may in the northern lakes. Usually once the water temp begins to climb above 55-57 deg the Bass begin to move and spread out and head to there spawning areas. It has a lot to due with the amount of sunlight we get as spring approaches. Bass will usually spawn starting at 59 deg and higher. Bass can spawn all the way until August in some lakes but will spawn deeper that late in the year. Before Bass spawn they will feed heavily and be on the search for a big meal.

Things like, spinnerbaits, grubs, senkos, jigs, swimbaits, lizards and rattle traps are typical baits to use.  These fish will not be moving fast in early spring but will be ready to eat. Bass spawn in waves and the north west faced banks with dark bottom usually will warm up first and are a good place to start, then the south banks will warm up and have another wave of fish moving in to spawn. At one time you will have Bass in pre spawn mode, spawn mode, and post spawn mode. You can start by fishing points that lead to protected bays, coves,creek arms and protected marinas. Once the fish are located you can follow them right to there spawning grounds and back out to the main lake. They will sit in areas with deep water next to these spawning flats until the weather is just right. Keep in mind deep water is relative to the area you are fishing and can be as little as 5ft. If a creek channel swings into a bank this is a good place to look for pre spawn bass as they use these creek channels like migration highways to there spawning flat. If there is any cover adjacent to the spawning areas these are good places to look in pre spawn as well and will be where the Big bass retreat to if spooked or any cold front move through and make her hold off from the spawn. Keep in mind these Bass are looking for warmer water as the females need to incubate there eggs. They will many times suspend and sit in trees or docks before they move to spawn.

Hard fertile bottom is a key to locating where Bass will spawn.

Things to look for to find spawning areas, willow trees on the bank this means good fertile soil,sparse tules this tells you the bottom is hard and the bass will spawn here,sand or gravely bottom, Plants or flowers blooming on the bank this tells you you have good fertile soil, Areas with any brush,also Bass will spawn on a piece of wood,cement,rubber boat ramps or any hard bottom if that is the best thing they can find in the body of water your fishing they will spawn on it.  And a Bass will always try to spawn next to something a stick a weed a overhanging branch they don’t like being out in the open unprotected. Big fish will spawn on a small flat next to a drop off!

“Spotted Bass”

These critters are a little different than the large mouth Bass and don’t play by the same rules. Spotted Bass tend to spawn earlier than large mouth when the water is below 60deg and will spawn several times all the way through the fall they are flat out goofy!. Spots will spawn in coves too, but it is more common for them to spawn on the sides of the coves or pockets right off the main lake. Spots will always be concentrated in the river or inflow section of the lake. The giant spots tend to come from the main lake. These bass like to spawn on areas with sand and rock mixed from 5 to 25 ft deep yes they bed in up to 25ft! find this combination and you will find spawning spotted bass. Spots will eat a lot of crayfish,minnows and trout.

“Smallmouth Bass”

Smallies will tend to spawn in coves and protected areas as well and tend to like areas with lots of gravel type rock really small rocks. They will spawn on the sides of coves and on baron flat long tapering points. A small tube on a Berserk Baits dart head is your best bet to catch these guys! Much like the Spotted bass these fish will spawn first before large mouth.

Hope this gives you a better perspective on where to look for spring time Bass! And remember please practice catch and release during the spawn as pulling a fish of its bed especially the males hurts the future of our sport since the males protect the baby bass. And let those fat females go so they can make some babies.

If you would like to know more ask a pro