Bluff walls are a standard fixture on reservoirs throughout the country and an excellent location to target bass in the late fall and winter months. Oklahoma-based bass pro Luke Palmer discusses the anatomy of bluff walls and breaks down when and where to target bass around them during the winter months. He also discusses making casts relative to the structure to keep your bait in the strike zone, emphasizing fishing jerkbaits.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- JERKBAIT – Smithwick Suspending Super Rogue, buy at Tackle Warehouse
- ROD – Abu Garcia Veritas Casting Rod, 7′ Medium, buy at Tackle Warehouse
- FISH FINDER – Humminbird HELIX 10, buy at Tackle Warehouse
- TROLLING MOTOR – MotorGuide X3 Digital Foot Control Trolling Motor, buy at Tackle Warehouse
While bluff walls can produce any time of the year, they shine in the winter, as bass commonly form schools and winter adjacent to them. So what makes them optimal winter spots? Bluffs are steep, irregular, and typically near deep water, so the bass can hide around the rock and quickly shift between shallow and deep water with a flick of their tail — ideal in the winter when metabolisms are slow.
Palmer breaks bluffs down into thirds; the inner third (toward the back of the creek), the middle third, and the outer third (closest to the main lake). Generally speaking, he finds the middle and outer third the most productive in mid-to-late winter, which corresponds to colder water temperatures. Forage location is the best determinant of where to start fishing and the best lures to target them.
While fishing jigs along bluffs can be excellent when bass are keyed in on crawfish, Palmer relies on a jerkbait much of the time. Shad-imitating jerkbaits have a knack for drawing bass for a long distance, which is ideal along a bluff. Shad are usually the target forage, and few baits do a better job mimicking sluggish shad in cold water than a suspending jerkbait.
Palmer stresses the importance of casting angles. Make casts parallel to the bluff at the depth the bass are positioned. Doing so keeps your bait in the strike zone for the maximum time, a plus, as winter bass can take some coaxing.