The Blessings and Curses of Jumping Bass

If you are an avid bass fisherman, chances are you've seen a lot of monumental jumps during your time on the water. In many ways, jumps sum up why bass are so sought after. It transpires like this: The morning fog lifts just as a slight breeze picks up as you're moving in to pitch a jig to your favorite stump. The lure sinks away when suddenly a little tick in your line accelerates. That morning calm turns into instant mayhem as the bass goes airborne five times in three seconds. Over the years I've seen bass perform about every conceivable act to try and shake a hook. Jumps are like snowflakes to me; no two are the same. The thing is, a jump can be a blessing or a curse depending on who you talk to, and more importantly, how much it matters whether or not you land that fish.

For the recreational angler, jumps are, by and large, thrilling and welcome. But if a jumping, shaking adrenaline-stoked fish stands between you and a tourney pay day, more often than not, you grow to resent the jump. I've heard comments around the launch ramps vary from, "man, those crazy jumping smallmouth are the best fighters in the world," to "man, I can't keep those stinking spotted bass buttoned up. They jump like crazy and throw every lure." If I'm really worried that a bass is going to throw my hooks on the jump, I'm keeping the rod tip low throughout the fight in an attempt to steer its head downward. Of course, you have to react this way quickly, because jumps are most likely to happen right after the hook set. It's not the most fun way to fight a fish, but it's a good trick to have in your back pocket if, say, you hook that 10-pounder you've been hunting every weekend for five years. Maybe there's no money on the line, but you won't dig seeing the fish take to the air if he shakes your worm in the process.

All of that said, I've realized that some of the greatest memories I have etched into my brain from years of bass fishing are related to those fish that provided the best aerial acrobatics. Whether those fish were landed or not is irrelevant, because the look on your kid's face, or the dropped jaw of a fishing partner when a bass launches, mean more in the end than placing in a tournament. Do you have any memorable jump stories? Did they end in heartache or victory?