Fall is a great time to fish Smallmouth Bass in the Wisconsin River in northern and central Wisconsin. Many call it “football season” because of the shape of these fighters at this time of year. They are putting on the feed bag in preparation for winter, and one of the best fishing lures to use for smallies at this time of year is the jerk bait. Smallmouth live all up and down the Wisconsin River and, as they are getting ready to slow down for the winter, anglers know they will be in for a good fight just about any day it’s warm enough out to get out on the river before the ice starts to creep over the surface.
Jerk baits are often overlooked by anglers, but they produce fish year round, especially in the fall. This is a fairly versatile fishing lure, and can be used in a variety of situations. It is a reaction bait, but color and size are still important. If an angler can find out what the smallmouth are feeding on, or what kinds of bait fish are in the a particular body of water, that can be half the battle. Anglers should try to match the size and color of the bait fish as closely as possible. While this is a reaction type bait, the odds of catching fish on the “pause” part of the cadence is greatly improved if the fishing lures look like what the fish are normally eating.
Jerk baits are great for those times when fish are up feeding, or getting ready to feed, but they won’t quite hit a topwater. Smallmouth Bass come up on flats to feed, and they can be found on the same points they favor for a majority of the fishing season. However, in the fall, they will be on the deepest sides of the points. Both of these areas are great starting spots for targeting smallmouth with a fishing lure like a jerk bait in the fall.
With jerk baits, as with several other baits, cadence is important. The lure is worked with quick snaps of the rod tip on a slack line. This makes the lure dive and dart and look like an injured bait fish. Anglers should experiment with how fast or slow the jerk and retrieve the bait. Also, different combinations of jerks and pauses can make the difference between going home empty and getting fish to the boat. Often a smallmouth will pick up a jerk bait on the pause. The angler may not feel the fish strike, but there will be weight when the angler attempts to jerk the bait again. Setting the hook should be a sweeping motion, much like when using a crankbait. The small treble hooks can pull out of a fish’s mouth if too much pressure is put on the fish. Many anglers like to put a treble hook with a feather on the back of their jerk baits. Sometimes this will draw more strikes. It is advisable to have 2 jerk baits of every color, one with a feather and one without, until the angler finds what the fish really want.
While many people are sitting on the couch watching football, or out in the woods hunting, smart anglers know that fall can be an awesome time to hit the water in northern Wisconsin, and that the Wisconsin River offers great opportunities to catch some fat bass. Choose a fishing lure such as a jerk bait and get out and try your luck this fall.