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March 7, 2022 Comments Off on Quirky lure hot in cold water: Reel, stop, repeat puts fish in boat Featured, Fishing, Latest, On The Water

Quirky lure hot in cold water: Reel, stop, repeat puts fish in boat

Culmer used a jerk bait to catch this Beaver Lake largemouth bass. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

The lure with a funny name is serious business when it comes to catching fish in cold water.

Jerk baits find favor among anglers when water temperatures dip below 50 degrees. These long, minnow-shaped lures are a good cold-water choice for getting black bass and walleye to bite. Their shape imitates injured bait fish such as threadfin shad as the lure does its wobbly under-water dance. All game fish eat threadfin shad. They’re abundant in most Ozark reservoirs like Beaver Lake.

The lure’s funny name comes from the way lots of anglers work a jerk bait. Cast the lure toward shore, crank the reel six or eight times so the lure dives, then let it sit for a few seconds, or up to 30 seconds. Then jerk the lure with a sweep of the rod tip, or use a pop-pop-popping motion to put the shimmy and shake in a jerk bait.

Another way is to simply reel in the jerk bait, stop it for a spell, then reel some more. Reel, stop, repeat. Fish often bite the lure when it’s sitting still, but not always.

Depth depends on whether the jerk bait is a deep or shallow diver. Deep divers have longer bills than shallow divers. Both kinds are on display at area fishing stores and there are several brands.

Bites can be few and far between during winter, but those few bites can be from big walleye or black bass. Then there are winter days when bass hit jerk baits with a vengeance.

Jerk baits get all three black bass species ó largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass ó to bite. This spotted bass bit Culmer’s jerk bait at Beaver Lake near Rocky Branch park. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

One warm day in late December, Dwayne Culmer and his fishing buddy hoped to coax one or two bass from the cold water at Beaver Lake. Culmer’s hallowed fishing water is the Van Winkle Hollow arm of the lake, a mile east of Rocky Branch park.

It took only five casts for Culmer to winch in the day’s first fish, a spotted bass that measured about 13 inches. When the pair called it a day about noon, they’d caught and released 10 spotted bass and largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass were no-shows on this trip. Spotted, largemouth and smallmouth are the three species of black bass.

A dancing jerk bait did the trick.

“I’ll reel it in, pop it a couple times, then reel some more,” Culmer said out on the lake. Banks with a mix of gravel and rock, with some timber thrown in, are his favorite shorelines for jerk-bait fishing.

“I like a lure with a blue back. That just seems to be the natural color for the threadfin shad we have here,” Culmer said.

Jerk baits that suspend motionless under water are what most fishermen use. The lures generally suspend well right out of the box, but some may float slowly toward the surface. To fix this, it’s easy to attach a SuspenStrip or SuspenDot, sold by Storm lure company, to the belly of the lure. These have adhesive backing that add weight to a lure.

“A lot of people let a jerk bait sit still, suspended, for a longer time than I do, but I don’t have that kind of patience,” Culmer added.

Keep a tight grip on that fishing rod. Winter may be cold, but some of the biggest bass of the year warm up to a wiggling jerk bait.