Depending on where you live, there’s a strong chance the waves of pre-spawn bass are moving shallower on your home lake. If that’s the case, you’d better have jerkbaits in your arsenal. This is especially true if your water is loaded with docks. When the water temps are in the high 40s, jerkbaits are key weapons, because bass can’t shift from winter mode to full spring mode super fast. That means you need a lure that will get right in the face of semi-sluggish fish and hang there for a sec. Docks are excellent targets, because they give transitioning fish a place to hide while the acclimate to the warmer shallows. So here are some tips for bringing up your early-season game around the docks.
Know When To Float ‘Em
Suspending jerkbaits are probably the most popular all around these days, but on super-sunny afternoons when bass hold just under the lip of a dock (not way back there), a floating jerkbait is a better option. My theory is that on many docks, the shadiest spot is only a few inches below the surface, and ultimately floaters stay in that range throughout the whole retrieve. I can recall several spring days when my bites increased 10 fold by switching from a suspender to floater.
Set Your Angle
In order to decipher if the bass will react more readily to a suspender or floater, the first order of business is getting the lure in front of their faces. To do that, it’s imperative that you cast well beyond your target so the bait has time reach its running depth before it gets to the fish. I see lots of guys get quickly frustrated when trying to make proper length casts under docks, which ultimately leads to them giving up on the strategy too soon. Most often, the problem is that they don’t take the time to maneuver the boat into the best position for the cast they need to make.
Don’t Get Color-Crazed
Be honest, I consider color choice kind of overrated in the jerkbait department. Don’t worry so much about the actual color schemes, just make sure you have baits that are shiny, and some that are opaque. Reason being that it takes a certain amount of “calling power” to pull a bass out from under the cover of a dock. Each color has a different “calling power” in different weather/water conditions, so its wise to try both until one noticeably works better. For example, in my experience the opaque pearl/white baits “call” well on overcast/rainy days, and the shiny baits work best on sunny days.