By John Neporadny Jr
Earning a good reputation sometimes has its drawbacks. Soft plastic jerkbaits serve as a prime example. The effectiveness of soft jerkbaits in the spring leads some anglers to save these lures for one season and ignore them the rest of the year.
So this lure’s reputation for catching bass during the spring actually deters its usage in other seasons in which it would excel. However a tournament competitor from Lake of the Ozarks believes a lure that works so well in the spring should also produce in the fall. Finicky bass can be tricked by the subtle action and slow fall of a soft jerkbait throughout the spawning cycle, but this finesse lure also produces at Lake of the Ozarks during the bass feeding sprees of fall.
A Zoom Fluke free-falling through schools of shad catches bass during those frustrating times when the fish seem to ignore everything in your tacklebox. “Those bass come busting up through the schools of shad and a lot of times they don’t eat one but just injure it. Then whenever it’s settling to the bottom they nail it,” says Bruce Gier, Eldon, MO. “The Fluke is the closest thing to (an injured shad) imitation that I can get.”
The tournament competitor relies on a pearl or glitter-color Fluke anytime he finds bass chasing shad and the fish continue to ignore his other presentations. The technique usually excels when shad are in the backs of coves and the sunshine causes the baitfish to rise to the surface.
Casting to busting bass triggers some strikes, however tossing the lure into the middle of the forage also catches fish. “There’s a bass underneath those shad. That’s just a given,” says Gier. “If you throw it right on that school of shad and let it deadfall, bass will bust it.” Gier just lets the lure fall to the bottom without imparting any action, then reels in again to cast to a busting fish or back into the shad balls.
Letting the lure fall on a tight line causes the jerkbait to stay on top too long, so Gier accelerates its rate of descent by keeping slack in his line. The bowed line makes it difficult to detect strikes on the fall, but Gier knows an immediate hookset is unnecessary. “Once they hit it they won’t spit it out,” he claims.
The local angler rigs his Flukes on a 5/0 hook and leaves the point exposed since he’s fishing mostly in open water. Gier never adds weight to the lure, so he opts for a 6 ½-foot medium-action spinning rod with a light tip that allows him to throw the light bait a long distance. He favors 8-pound test line and a spinning reel with a large spool capacity.
While he catches plenty of keeper-size bass on this trick, Gier has also taken quality fish with a soft jerkbait in the fall. “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a 5-pounder come blowing completely out of the water in a big school of shad and I’ll throw everything I’ve got at it and not get a bite,” he says. “But this will work.”
Gier recommends trying this technique whenever shad activity is present in the backs of coves. The pattern ends in late fall when the water turns cold and the baitfish leave the coves. Gier employs this deadfall method from September to November on the upper Osage arm.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at www.funlake.com.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.