Jerkbaits produce big bass in the spring and fall. But some anglers have come to realize these baits work well throughout the year. Such is the case for New York angler and MONSTERBASS Ambassador Carrie Cates.
"I throw them year round,” said Cates. “I know a lot of people don’t do that, but I’ve had so much success doing it. I haven’t seen a time when they wouldn’t bite a jerkbait.”
These lures come in several shapes, sizes and actions. For Cates, it’s all about versatility. And one feature makes a certain type of jerkbait the most versatile for her.
“I go with suspending jerkbaits. Usually the fish are coming up and feeding on baitfish. I like being able to get the bait right in front of their face. I like being versatile and suspending jerkbaits are probably one of the most versatile baits there is.”
Since jerkbaits are versatile, they work well in a wide variety of conditions and around lots of different types of cover. For Cates, there are certain things she looks for when trying to target largemouth, and then other things when targeting smallmouth with a jerkbait.
When looking for largemouth
“Usually it’s grass just under the surface. If I’m fishing from a boat, I’m usually in 10- to 15- feet of water. And the grass is about 5-feet below the surface, so the bait is ticking the top of the grass or just above it.”
And when targeting smallmouth
“Usually it’s a combination of pea gravel and some boulders. But they also like grass too around here. Our fisheries are kind of unique in that our largemouth and smallmouth can be found in the same environment.”
In either instance, there’s one other key component that Cates looks for before deploying a jerkbait, that’s baitfish.
“If you’ve got an area where the baitfish are, there’s going to be bass.”
Once Cates finds an area with all the right conditions, she ties on a suspending jerkbait and gets to work. Her cadence is the gold standard, but it takes some discipline to wait the bass out for sure.
“I do the jerk, jerk, pause. They really, really love it. I usually pause it about 10- to 15- seconds and 9 times out of 10, when I go to move it again is when they smash it. They love it. They’re very aggressive with jerkbaits.”
Though Cates already confessed she uses a jerkbait year round, she did admit that this bite does pickup a good bit in the fall. But there’s a race in her area to get as much fishing in as possible, before there’s no longer an option to go.
“They are a little more active in the cooler temperatures. Usually I can fish it up until December. I fish it until there’s ice.”
Once the ice sets in, Cates puts her rods down for the winter, commenting that she’s not into the ice fishing scene. But no doubt her jerkbaits will be some of the first back out of the box come spring when the ice thaws.