John's Journal...


VanDam's Second Choice for Clear-Water Fishing - The Wild Shiner Jerkbait

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: Longtime, nationally-known bass-fishing pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has proved to everyone in the bass-fishing world that he can catch bass year-round. VanDam's many wins and his title of Bassmasters Classic Champion attest to his ability to catch fish. VanDam says that during October and November, bass are keying in on baitfish, and in the South, bass are primarily feeding on shad. In the North in October and November, bass may be feeding on shad, perch or LYs. Because VanDam understands this, he fishes with baitfish-imitating lures these months. This week VanDam shares with us his five-favorite October and November bass patterns.

The jerkbait is another baitfish-imitating lure that can be deadly effective in the fall, especially in clear-water lakes. I like to make a jerkbait swim really erratic, and that erratic motion is what I believe triggers the strike of the bass. Remember, the fish are targeting shad and other baitfish at this time of the year. Their primary target is a wounded or an injured baitfish. Therefore, if you use the lure that looks like a baitfish, and you make that lure swim like it's injured, you're showing the bass just what Click to enlargeit's looking for when it's on the prowl.

I like to fish Strike King’s Wild Shiner jerkbait over flats, especially if those flats have vegetation on them, or some other type cover. Lay downs, stumps and drop-offs are also productive places to fish this bait. If I'm fishing on a sunny day, and the water is clear, I like the chrome colors. Chrome with a black back and chrome with the blue color are two of my favorites. I like the Bleeding Bait Series Wild Shiner with the red hook, especially in clear water. If the water is stained, or I'm fishing on cloudy days, I like the new crystal gizzard shad color, a brand-new color that's almost pearl-white. Another color that I really like is the Wild Shiner with the purple back and chartreuse sides, which is called chartreuse violet crystalina.

The best way I've found to fish the Wild Shiner is once you get it down to the depth you want to fish, twitch the bait with slack in your line. I'm not fishing the bait slow like I'll fish it in the early spring. I'm making the lure dart and dance with a very active retrieve. The bass always takes the bait when the bait pauses, but at this time of the year, I don't let it pause for long. I just want to give it a hesitation in-between the twitches that I'm giving the lure with my rod tip. I tend to work the bait with fast, short twitches. You have to experiment with your retrieve mClick to enlargeost days to learn exactly how the bass wants the bait. I've learned that quick, short, erratic movements pay off best for me at this time of the year when I'm fishing a jerkbait.

One of the problems that some anglers have fishing with jerkbaits is because the lure is so big, the bass have a tendency to throw it, especially if you're trying to horse the bass in once it takes the lure. So, I fish the jerkbaits on a medium-action rod to have a softer tip than if I'm fishing a heavier-action rod.

Because the hooks are so sharp on the Wild Shiner, I don't lose many bass that attack this bait. I also try to keep my rod tip pointed down at the water so that when the bass takes the bait, it's likely to jump. Because this bait is so big, the bass will usually be hooked outside the mouth, so I don't fight the bass as hard as I will if I hook that fish on a jig, a tube or a spinner bait. Once I get a bass on the Wild Shiner, I take my time to land the fish. I don't like to rely on my drag to fight the fish, especially when the bass is close to the boat. Often a bass will take that one last hard run right by the boat where it usually can pull the hooks out of its mouth. Instead, I disengage my reel and use thumb pressure on the spool to determine the amount of pressure to put on the Click to enlargebass if it makes one of those hard runs. I really baby a bass to the boat just like I do if I have that bass hooked on a crankbait.

An important tip to remember is any time you're fishing big lures that may not get all the way inside a bass' mouth is to reduce the pressure that you put on the bass after you've hooked the bass to play it to the boat. When you have a bass hooked on a jig, a tube or a lizard, you know that the hook is inside the fish's mouth, and you have a good solid hook set, you can wage war and put a lot of pressure on the bass to get it to the boat. Often you even can jerk that bass in the boat. But when you're fishing a crankbait or a jerkbait, fight the fish with more finesse, use less pressure on the rod, use more of your angling skills, and always either net the fish or lip it to bring it to the boat.



Check back each day this week for more about MY FIVE FAVORITE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER PATTERNS WITH KEVIN VANDAM...

Day 1 - Bet On The Baitfish
Day 2 - VanDam's Second Choice for Clear-Water Fishing - The Wild Shiner Jerkbait
Day 3 - VanDam's Favorite Fall Tube Techniques
Day 4 - Double Down With a Swimming Jig in the Fall
Day 5 - Bet On The Top-Water Bite



Entry 271, Day 2