June 23, 2014 Share

How To Build Pattern

Angling writer Don Wirth is a long-time contributor to North American Fisherman and several other top angling publications. He’s also a passionate angler, especially when the target of choice is largemouth bass.

Years back, I fished giant stripers with Don on a river near his Nashville home. We landed some bruisers running live shad behind planer boards, and between bites I got to know Don a bit better as an angler and a person.

For the past several years, Don has been doing a magazine series called “A Day on the Lake” for Bassmaster magazine. The premise of the article is brilliant as it provides blow-by-blow details on how pro bass anglers approach a given body of water on a given day.

For most anglers today, catching fish is not the toughest challenge. Most are accomplished with a rod, understand how to use electronics and know how to fish the best baits available today. Where most struggle, and that includes me, is finding active fish.

In Don’s latest piece he follows pro matt Herren on a cold, post-front December morning on a small southern reservoir. Herron catches his first bass on his second cast using a jerkbait near a ledge, but failed to catch any more despite working the area hard. So he switches to a jig, another proven bait for cold-water bass, but fails to score so he moves on to a marina where he unsuccessfully works a bladed jig near the docks. So he switches to a spinnerbait and while he has a bass roll on it, he doesn’t hook up.

Herron has been on the water for a half-hour at this point and has fished a jerkbait, a finesse jig, a bladed jig and a spinnerbait so far. His only fish has come on the jerkbait.

Fifteen minutes later he catches his second bass, again on the jerkbait. The fish comes off a point, however, he fails to land anymore off that point or the next one he fishes, so he switches to a fifth bait, a crank and catches nothing. And neither does the finesse jig or bladed jig, however, he does get a third bite on the jerkbait (but misses it).

Let’s stop here as a pattern is beginning to emerge…jerkbaits…points…fished on fluorocarbon. At this point I’ll typically focus on the jerkbait pattern and try to mine it as much as possible before the bite dies. If I do experiment, I’ll typically stick with jerkbaitd begin experimenting with different models, colors and retrieves, to see if one is better than all the others, and if the bite dies, I begin the search process again with the other baits.

Herron ends the day catching seven keeper bass, losing a couple others, with all fish coming before 11:00 o’clock. All but a couple fish came on the jerkbait (the others on crankbaits) that day, which means if he stuck with jigs or spinnerbaits he likely would have been skunked.

I find it easier to experiment when fishing new bodies of water as it’s easier for me to switch spots and baits when I am not encumbered by memories of past trips.