Now that you know bass will hit reaction baits in cold water, it's time for us to talk about how to present those baits.
First, let's look at hard jerkbaits. The trick here is timing. As soon as your bait hits the water, pull it down to its maximum running depth. Once down, twitch it ever so slightly and then let it sit absolutely motionless in the water.
Timing on the pause is everything. I start by counting to 10 — one and two and three ... If that doesn't elicit a strike, I go to 15, then 20 and all the way up to at least 60, sometimes 75. That's more than a minute.
I know a lot of you guys think you know how to work a bait slow, and that you can let one sit still for a longtime. But, if you count, you'll quickly realize that you've never let a lure sit still as long as you thought you had. That was my realization when I first started counting. I'll bet yours is the same.
I always count out loud. When you just estimate the time without counting, you start moving the bait way too fast. Time is funny on the water. Standing there with your rod pointed at the water's surface for just a few seconds seems like forever. It isn't. The fish know that.
Vibrating baits are different. You need to move them to attract bass. That's what they're all about. I work mine in a slow and soft yo-yo manner.
Sometimes the bass want them brought up high and then allowed to freefall to the bottom. Other times, however, a short upward pull with a semi-slack line and controlled fall is better. There's really no rule here. It's a matter of trial and error.
Here's the critical thing, though. Don't get in a hurry to bring the lure up off the bottom. Let it rest there for a while; maybe not as long as your jerkbait pauses but still plenty long. Again, I count so I know exactly what I'm doing. Always vary the length of time the lure rests on the bottom. Sometimes that makes a big difference.
The common theme in all this is dying forage. Everything you do should be with an eye toward making your lure look like a shad or alewife that has succumbed to the cold. That's what'll look natural to the bass.
Before I leave, I have an announcement to make: I have signed an exclusive deal with Abu Garcia. I'll be fishing with their rods and reels and with Spiderwire. I'm really excited about this. They make some of the best equipment on the planet.
In the coming weeks I'll give you some of the details of what we'll be offering, what I'm fishing with and why. I think you'll find it informative.