SA Bass - - Contents - >> Roger Don­ald­son*

“Jerk­baits for Early Sea­son Bass” Jerk­baits, wow. What in­cred­i­ble thought and fish­ing ge­nius went into the de­sign and ap­pli­ca­tion of this lure – Roger Don­ald­son

Just two weeks ago an old friend made con­tact on Face­book and hinted that we should take ad­van­tage of lit­tle early sea­son Bass fish­ing this year and he asked me to do some re­search on which dams are fish­ing best when the sea­son be­gins. For those of you won­der­ing what “early sea­son” is it’s ba­si­cally the time just be­fore spring.

The first few thoughts which sprang to mind were; big bass, ag­gres­sive bites (al­most Quentin Tarantino style), ex­cit­ing fish­ing… and jerk­baits. I can im­me­di­ately re­call three over­whelm­ing oc­ca­sions which imbed­ded in my mind just how ef­fec­tive jerk­baits are and es­pe­cially for spring bass.

The Oc­ca­sions

Bass fish­ing on Al­bert Falls Dam can be at its most dif­fi­cult just com­ing out of the win­ter sea­son. The bass are still fairly in­de­ci­sive with one half hold­ing back be­fore choos­ing to spawn and the other half ven­tur­ing in­quis­i­tively to the shal­lows in search of bed­ding ar­eas.

I ar­rive on the stretch of bank to the left of West Street and drop the trolling mo­tor when we’re po­si­tioned in just 3ft of wa­ter. Why we chose that area at that time was mainly be­cause of the flooded veg­e­ta­tion which we were sure would at­tract feed­ing bass. It hon­estly wasn’t the most con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment to fish a jerkbait with all its pro­trud­ing hooks and you had to choose your al­ley ways be­tween the veg­e­ta­tion ever so care­fully. It took only the first cast for us to re­alise that there was plenty of ac­tiv­ity be­low the wa­ter sur­face and im­me­di­ately we were land­ing kilo­gram sized fish.

This was ex­cel­lent fun! In fact we were ut­terly spoilt and even­tu­ally we could not make a cast with­out catch­ing an­other bass. The jerkbait would hit the rel­a­tively clear wa­ter and with one pos­i­tive ‘jerk’ you could see the bass mak­ing ‘V-lines’ for your lure fight­ing each other to be the first one to en­gulf it!

The fol­low­ing year I’d held the BassAfrica Clas­sic, the first day of which was fished on the Vaal River. After Nic Dub­ber has achieved his mon­u­men­tal win I asked him to take me out on the river and hu­mour me. I had very lit­tle faith in the river at the time. If you were go­ing to land a bass it would be small to medium in size and few and far be­tween. Well this was cer­tainly the far­thest thing from the truth.

Rigged up with a jerkbait each we headed out on his new Skeeter bass boat not more than a kilo­me­tre from his week­end hol­i­day venue on the river near Stone Haven. He was quite will­ing to al­low me the first cast and which he ad­vised me to aim to­ward a shal­low bank be­tween two

slip­ways. With my first few rapid ‘jerks’ I was into a siz­able fish, larger than what I was ac­cus­tomed to on the Vaal River. Ev­ery cast pro­duced a bass, many of 1,5kg and one of 2kg. All in the same area!

A third fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was only to be wit­nessed by me and my boat part­ner at the time. The fish­ing was ex­cru­ci­at­ingly tough on Nan­doni Dam in later Au­gust and we were at a loss for strate­gies. I did lose one very large fish as it sim­ply pulled my lure into a sub­merged tree stump and promptly snapped my line. In the back­ground an an­gler hollered that if I should catch that fish he would like his ‘Pur­ple Ghost’ coloured jerkbait back which the same fish had re­cently snapped up ear­lier that same day.

At the end of the fish­ing day that same young man was the win­ner of the Nan­doni event in which we had par­taken and ev­ery fish was taken on a jerkbait, bass rang­ing be­tween 2-4kg and one un­for­tu­nately lost which looked in the re­gion of 5kg.

The Tech­nique

It does take a cer­tain amount of tech­nique to get your jerkbait to be­have the way which bass find the most de­lec­ta­ble. With a sharp down­ward jerk of your rod tip your lure pro­duces the most en­tic­ing div­ing, side­ward ‘dash and stop’ ac­tion. Hold your rid top in an el­e­vated an­gle and jerk up­wards as ap­pose to down­wards and you can keep your jerkbait ‘swim­ming’ shal­lower. And one thing I’ve re­ally no­ticed and hope you will try is that some­times the more ag­gres­sively you can jerk the lure the greater the re­ward!

The Va­ri­ety of Jerk­baits

Don’t fret. Yes there is a whole bunch to choose from. I am quite a firm be­liever that this lure is at­tracts a bite mostly out of the bass re­act­ing to the ag­gres­sive move­ment of the jerkbait and that the colour and size is largely over­looked. Of course there will be times where colour and size make in­cre­men­tal dif­fer­ences, but when you are start­ing out and mak­ing your first pur­chases be­gin with the colours that ex­cite YOU!

An as­sort­ment of jerk­baits in dif­fer­ent sizes, colours and div­ing depths

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