Don't be so quick to put them away.
Just because we're transitioning out of the winter patterns and bass are beginning to migrate toward the warming shallows, that doesn't mean the stick baits will quit producing.
"No way," said George Green of Tupelo, an avid bass fisherman who keeps a Lucky Craft Pro Pointer 100 - his favorite suspending jerk bait - tied on until the big female bass hit the beds. "It's my go-to bait all through the pre-spawn, especially when I'm targeting the big sows while they are staging on the edge of the shallows.
"Right now, I'm still throwing it on the deep drops and along the riprap banks on dams and on some of the points close to deep drops. But my favorite time to use them is in March when the males move up on the shallow flats and the females are holding on those first drops. They like a big-profile bait, and they like a bait that will just sit there in their strike zone."
Green said it's a pattern he first learned 15 years ago, reading a story in a magazine about bass at Bay Springs Lake on the Tenn-Tom Waterway north of Tupelo.
"I was hearing about some big fish at Bay Springs, but they weren't biting for me," he said. "I knew there had to be a secret, and then I read about how some guys were taking jerk baits like the Rattlin' Rogue and adding some lead tape to them to make them suspend. That was back before lure companies were making suspending baits like they do now.
"What they were doing was getting in the mouths of the big coves on Bay Springs, positioning where they could fish the points, and making long casts with light line and the altered lures. They'd crank them down real fast, and then just slowly work them like a Carolina rig. That kept the lures deep in the suspended fish. I saw pictures of one guide - Roger Stegall of Tupelo, whom I had never met - holding up two 8 pounders, so I got me a couple of Rogues and some lead tape and started experimenting."
Green said he caught some big ones that first March, including a 9-pounder that remains his biggest at Bay Springs.
"From then on, a suspending jerk bait has been a favorite, and over the years I learned that I could make it work in different situations," he said. "I now take it to the shallow lakes around Tupelo and on the Columbus and Aberdeen pools of the Tenn-Tom, and use it on the prespawn females in shallower waters.
"I caught a 10-pounder last year at Davis Lake in a ditch in 5 feet of water. I found some bucks working on beds shallow but no big fish, so I knew they were holding in the ditches and on the edge of the creek nearby. I backed out to the first drop I could find and fished with a worm and a jig and didn't get a bite. Then I switched to the Pro Pointer and caught that 10-pounder on my about my fifth cast. I caught a 5-pounder on my first cast."
Johnny Gibbs of Madison uses the same pattern on Barnett Reservoir, and does it in areas that would surprise most local fishermen.
"You know how people like to go behind 7 (the old No. 7 sign, a popular area on Barnett known simply as 'behind 7'), and fish in March and April when the fish move in? Well that's one of my favorites for the jerk bait," Gibbs said. "It's good when the males move up in the shallows but the females are just starting to move into the cove. They will stay out there in that main ditch (4 feet) or right on the edge of it.
"I don't start with the jerk bait, but it is what I go to when I can't make them bite on all the normal stuff, like spinnerbaits, swimming jigs, swimming lizards or buzzbaits, that everybody uses. Those are all good when the fish leave the ditch and move into the pad stems. When they aren't aggressive, like after a cold front and with blue-bird skies, I get the jerk bait and give it a shot."
Gibbs didn't want to identify the lure type - you know how competitive fishermen can be - but said he uses a shallow-running suspending jerk bait.
"Remember: You're fishing for fish that are not aggressive, so you want that suspending bait that will pause and sit," he said.