I’d like to think that being from the north I’m the king of coldwater but then again we have to wait a until the water gets darn near into the mid-50s until we’re able to chase bass. That being said, when the water dips back down to the mid-40s to lower-50s these baits have saved my bacon more times than I can count.
It’s no secret that Michigan is known for the smallmouth population which means jerkbaits. With so many jerkbaits
on the market with so many different actions it can be daunting to pick just the right one. Depending on the activity of the fish and the clarity of the water your options can change rather drastically, so let’s get into what works for us!
The original standby for us would be the Rapala Husky Jerk thanks to its near-suspending action with a very slight float. On the Husky Jerk we’ve found that 8lb fluorocarbon paired with a 6’ 6” Medium Denali Rosewood finesse spinning rod offers the most freedom in movement. When the fish are a little more lethargic and your standard jerk-jerk-pause doesn’t work then baits like the new Rapala Shadow Rap which have a very-very slow sink rate may come to your rescue.
During the colder water months the spinnerbait can be a unique presentation that is often overlooked by anglers.
The old standby is the double willow chartreuse and white in 3/8-1/2 ounce, this bait covers the spectrum from realistic to high-visibility giving you the confidence to throw it anywhere.
When throwing this classic bait we’ll look for a ledges and major structure changes during the earlier months. Usually during the pre-spawn time the fish haven’t rolled up the ledge yet in any numbers but the ones that do are usually looking for spawning area and baitfish. It’s important to note that we don’t need all fish to bite, just the hungry ones.
Looking for emergent cover can produce excellent results during this time, especially when paired with a warmer dark bottom. Running shorelines and letting them sink down rapidly falling points is where spinnerbaits really shine.
This category is kind of an odd one just because I tend to lump in baits like the Storm Wiggle Wart in along with stuff like the Storm Arashi 5 and the Jackall Bling 55. During this time I do prefer a crankbait that isn’t as wide of a wobble but does offer a rhythmic clicking of internal BBs.
Color isn’t usually as important since you’re looking for a reaction bite 9 times out of 10 but Rapala’s Caribbean Shad has quickly become a go-to for the majority of anglers in the north due to its versatility in a wide variety of water clarity levels.
When fishing square-bills I’m looking for large grass flats in order to fan cast and cover water. Perhaps the biggest secret in getting fish to bite on a square-bill during this time would be to ensure you’re coming in contact with either the structure or the cover the fish is actually hiding inside. My entire goal is to find concentrated sections of biters, once I find them I’ll follow up with the next bait on my list.
This technique has developed from a mid-summer deep water fishing tactic to now be one of the most universal techniques used on the water today. During this period of time I’ll rig up with an 18” drop line from my hook, getting the bait up off the bottom, this serves two purposes.
When using electronics you’re looking to get fish to raise off the bottom, presenting themselves to you. The second reason is it helps to keep your hook out of any vegetation that may cause hang ups. This can be avoided however by using an EWG or worm hook and skin hooking the bait.
Usually drop-shotting off of ledges and on the shelf itself gives you the ability to fish a few depth ranges per cast, hopefully narrowing down which stage the fish are in.
When it comes to fishing no-man’s land, you know the area, not too shallow but not too deep. For all intensive purposes we’ll call it 5-15 feet of water.
Rapala really has this area on lock down; between the DT series and the Suspending Shad Raps you really don’t need to go far out of these lines to hit those bass that hit back. Unlike the remainder of the year we’re treating our deeper crankbaits like swimbaits. We don’t jerk them, we slowly reel them back to the boat, this allows them to get down to depth and give a slow-tight wobble which is indicative of the colder water periods.
Fishing colder water is usually all about finesse but there are times when the spinnerbait and squarebill come into play to get the reaction bite. We hope we’ve helped you in your cold water crusade. Good luck and we hope to see some pictures!