Some folks prefer fishing at a slow pace. They throw out a bobber, sit down on the bank, then wait for a fish to swim by and notice the bait dangling underneath.
Then there are the adrenaline junkies. They love the thrill of unleashing all the horsepower in their boat’s motor. They seek fish with enough fight to bend poles into dangerous arcs, snap wimpy knots, and sear drags with powerful runs.
For this kind of action, there’s nothing quite like fishing the jumps.
What are the jumps? It’s when white bass and hybrid striped bass begin herding shad into huge schools near the surface. This usually occurs in August.
Baitfish schools balled into tight groups are easy prey. Bass slash through the schools in a wild feeding frenzy that may last a few seconds or a few minutes. Because bass trap shad against the surface, the baitfish jump out of the water in an attempt to evade their predators. That’s why anglers call this behavior the “jumps.”
The best time to fish the jumps is during the first 90 minutes of daylight. Since the water is usually calm, it’s easier to spot the boiling water effect of a jump. This is where the horsepower comes in: you have to get to the spot quickly and cast your lures while the fish are near the surface.
Some anglers make the mistake of cutting off their motor and coasting through the school. This puts fish down immediately. Instead, anglers should power down and glide to the side of the school, just at the edge of casting distance.
To fish the jumps most effectively, you need a lure that both imitates a shad and can be cast a long distance. Good lures include silver-colored spoons, 3- to 5-inch white curly-tailed grubs, metal blade baits, lipless crankbaits, heavy in-line spinners, or topwater baits. A 7-foot, medium-heavy spinning rod provides good leverage for long casts. Also, keep your reel filled with new line.
Hybrid striped bass are muscular fish and a supreme test of your tackle. The current state record is a 20-pound, 8-ounce fish caught from the Barren River Lake tailwater in 1991.
Kentucky currently stocks nearly three-quarters of a million hybrid striped bass each year. Stocking locations include Guist Creek Lake, Taylorsville Lake, Herrington Lake, Barren River Lake, Rough River Lake, Fishtrap Lake, the Ohio River, and the Kentucky River.
If it’s extreme fishing you’re after, try fishing the jumps this month.
When fish go deeper and are no longer in the jumps, try trolling shad-colored baits instead. Look for bunched-up baitfish on your sonar, then troll in a zigzag pattern through the school.