By Derek Brundle
Castaic Pro Staff
Castaic Pro Staff share their inside tips, tricks, and advice.
Thirty-five degrees, wind blowing 15 mph out of the Northeast, sleet/rain mix. That’s what I was looking at as I stared out my living room window on an early spring Saturday morning in northern New England. Didn’t seem like much of a day to be excited to jump in the truck and go launch my kayak in search of Largemouth and smallmouth bass. In fact I believe my wife’s words were “Stupid, you’re going fishing in this? That’s just stupid!” I decided to go anyways…….
Knowing that the Jerk bait bite was going to be absolutely on fire, I finished my cup of coffee and finished layering up to brave the elements gave her a kiss and headed out. As I was pulling up to the launch I looked out at the lake and it didn’t look very inviting with small white caps blasting the very bank I wanted to fish. I knew the fish would be there despite the condition’s so I jumped out and started unloading. I figured my presentations would be simple. A spinning rod with a jerk bait, spinning rod with a ned rig, casting rod with a crankbait and a casting rod with a jig.
As I pushed off from shore I thought this may be tough with 46 degree water temps but as I pulled up to the first drop off from 6 feet of water down into 11 feet of water I could see the bass suspended and stacked up in about 8 feet of water just off the edge. I knew right away to reach for the jerk bait. XRM 80 Ghost French Pearl was the choice. I positioned the kayak on the break line so I could cast parallel to the drop off and work the jerk bait down the edge to stay in the strike zone the whole time.
I made my first cast. As the XRM 80 hit the water I thought “Man I hope they will bite!” I turned the handle a few times to get the bait down into that 6-7 deep range and made one “jerk” with a quick snap of the rod. I let is sit there for about 5 seconds and made two more quick snaps of the rod and started counting. I like to count the length I let the bait pause. By doing this you’ll know how long the fish want that bait sitting there before they bite it. About the time I got to 5 Mississippi BAM!! I had got my first bite and on the first cast no less!!! A largemouth measuring in at 15.75”.
I went on to absolutely crush both largemouth and smallmouth for the next 1 ½ hours. What was the key? The key was triggering a reaction bite. The jerk bait is just that, a reaction bite bait. The XRM 80 has proven to be my most valued shallow water jerk bait. There are 5 main characteristics that make the XRM 80 my favorite shallow water jerk bait. First characteristic being the suspending factor. This bait suspends very horizontally in the water. Not nose down or nose up but very even keeled and looks very natural in the water. The second characteristic is the ability to cast this a long way. The weight transfer system inside is a huge factor in this. It is important to remember we are talking shallow water and fish can be spooked easily by your boat or many other factors. So the ability to present the bait from a distance is important.
Third factor is sound. Sound is a huge plus in attracting a fish from long distance before they may even see the bait. The sound chamber and bearings inside the XRM 80 produce a unique “thud” noise that carries out into the water where fish pick it up and start to search. Fourth characteristic is the hooks. This is obviously a huge factor in both hook up and landing ratios. All XRM 80 jerk baits come equipped with super sharp Kitana hooks. These hooks will help you pin a fish better and keep them pinned all the way to the boat. The Fifth characteristic is the color selection. With nearly 20 colors to choose from the choice is really up to you and your favorites. My favorite colors include Ghost French Pearl, Ghost Perch, Ghost Minnow, Ghost Pro Blue, Ghost sexy Shad and T-Rock. All of these colors will work in most situations and water temps.
Let’s talk how I set up for a jerk bait gear wise. I almost always throw a jerk bait on spinning gear. A medium heavy fast action rod with 15lb braided line tied to fluorocarbon 12lb test leader. This will allow you to make long casts and the braid will help to stick those fish when they are way out there. Throw the bait out there, reel it down into the water a little bit the “jerk” the bait and let it pause followed by a jerk, jerk pause and repeat. The bites will typically happen during the pause and make sure to count the seconds you allow the bait to pause. Once you start getting bites at a certain length of pause repeat that length of pause. Continue playing with the cadence of jerks and length of pauses until you find what works.
Jerk baits typically perform best in the colder water temps but will absolutely produce fish all year long. Pick up some XRM 80’s and get out there and catch some fish!!