Winter jerkbait fishing is incredibly productive once you’ve found the forage. Lake Guntersville-based pro Cal Lane explains that jerkbaits are a premiere triggering tool when baitfish and bass get schooled up around shallow flats with grass. We spent an early winter day on the water with Cal to learn the ins and outs of fishing jerkbaits for winter bass on grass lakes in the south.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- JERKBAIT – Berkley Stunna Jerkbait 112, color – Stealth Shad
- JERKBAIT – Bass Pro Shops XPS Bass Hawk Minnow
- ROD – Duckett Pro Series Rod, 7’1″ Medium Gary Klein
- REEL – Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Casting Reel, 6.8:1
- LINE – Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line, 10-pound
- SUNGLASSES – Costa Del Mar Fantail Pro, Silver Mirror
Grass flats on southern impoundments, such as Lake Guntersville, are key winter jerkbait fishing spots well into the winter months. Lane ties on a jerkbait when water temperatures reach the 60-degree mark and lower. He targets bass wherever he finds concentrations of baitfish, shad in this case, which often load up on or around grass flats. Grass provides food, cover, and concealment for both the shad and the bass. Protected marinas are excellent locations, with the added benefit of overhead cover. Casting jerkbaits into boat slips is an overlooked tactic that produces.
Fishing a jerkbait
A jerkbait is a freestyle bait, meaning you can fish it on a continuum from slow to fast, static to erratic. There are no rules, even when winter jerkbait fishing, with bass preferring them fished fast and erratic one day and slow and subtle the next. Lane lets the fish tell him the best retrieve cadence on any given day. Your job is to pick a quality bait that mimics the forage and reaches the proper depth zone.
How to choose a jerkbait
According to Lane, there are near-endless options for quality jerkbaits, but choosing one with a proper running depth is essential. Shallow-diving jerkbaits excel when the bass are “in the mud,” which is often the case on warm days. Deep-diving models commonly run 6- to 10 feet, with mid-depth models hitting the 4- to the 6-foot sweet spot. Once you dial your running depth, experiment with jerkbait sizes and colors. Don’t overthink it. It’s usually hard to beat matching the hatch.
Lastly, Lane shares his go-to jerkbait rod, reel, and line combo for making effortless and accurate casts. Generally speaking, a medium-power rod with a moderate-fast to fast taper, and a shorter overall length, will excel for target casting, efficiently working the bait with minimal water slap and hooking and keeping bass buttoned on treble hooks.
Bottom line, winter time in the south means jerkbaits in the grass for big bass!