Spring Time Bass Fishing by Ron Howe
As Bass Fisherman we tend to dislike winter, it gets cold and Bass can get harder to catch. Getting out and fishing is tough we have families and the holidays are upon us. Most Bass fisherman begin to get excited in January. Not because the weather is nice or because the Christmas bills are rolling in and not because the ice on your windows make you happy, but because Spring is just around the corner. We begin to dream of warmer days and seeing the sun for more than 1 or 2 days a week. The thought of better Bass fishing is on our mind. Are mood begins to perk up as the doldrums of winter begin to pass..
Spring time can provide some of the best Bass fishing of the year. It can also bring some of the toughest days of the year as the weather tends to be unstable. As spring approaches us mother nature begins to show us signs of change. The days begin to get longer and afternoon temperatures begin to rise a few degrees. We see signs of the first blooming trees of the year. The grass in the yard finally starts to grow tall enough for its first mowing since late fall. These are keys signs that the spring is coming. Spring may have very cold windy days and several cold fronts pass through . Dont let this fool you the Bass know there time to spawn is coming and they prepare for the spawning ritual.
The first phase a Bass moves into during this transition from winter to spring is the pre spawn mode. The first Bass to do this are Small Mouth Bass. These fish will move shallow and feed heavy on there way to spawning areas. This can be fun as Small Mouth Bass will tend to like reaction style baits like rip baits, spinner baits, rattle traps and crank baits. Some of my favorite baits are the IMA Flit 100 and flit 120 match your color to the bait fish and watercolor, ½ oz Persuader E-chip spinner baits in shad colors,c hrome and black rattle traps and natural craw colored smaller crank baits like speed traps and IMA square bill crank baits. I replace all my hooks with Daiichi hooks and will use a bleeding bait red hook on the front of my baits. I look to fish points and Island tops or any rocky areas with the smallest rocks in any area during this pre spawn period for smallmouth bass.
Small Mouth will spawn on long flat tapering do nothing banks and in coves. They tend to spawn in open water with little to no cover around and tend to spawn a little deeper than largemouth. Sandy looking banks and small pea gravel banks are the key. Once these fish get into there spawn mode I change to plastic baits. My favorites are 4” senkos in natural or really bright colors, tubes in brown or white and sweet beavers in the 3.50 smallie size in green pumpkin. I will rig the senkos wacky style on 6-8 lb Berkley100% fluorocarbon line and make long casts to these areas. I will fish the tubes and sweet beavers on light dart heads with 6-8 lb test as well. Make long casts and watch your line these fish will come a long way to get your bait and swim away with it.
The second phase of Bass to spawn is the Spotted Bass these fish are very aggressive and are as curious as a cat!. During the pre spawn period I use spinner baits,jerk baits, crank baits, and plastics. For spinner baits I use Persuader ½ oz with a white skirt and white willow blades. I will use this on 10-12lb test and look for areas with incoming creeks or current near bye. For jerk baits I really like the IMA Flit 120 and I match the water color, natural colors such as Ghost Minnow or brighter colors such as the Pro Blue color. For crank baits any shad colored bait that dives 8-14ft will do and I prefer using 10lb test Berkley 100% fluorocarbon line for this application. As far as plastics go the Spotted Bass during pre spawn arent to picky. I prefer natural colored baits made by Zipper worm company in the 6” Big Weenie the 4” pudgy worm and the 3.5” Zipper grub. I tend to use dart heads for this application on 6-8lb test. Don’t loose sight of a 6” senko they tend to like these too!
Spotted bass will spawn on steeper banks like 45deg angle or so. Look for sandy banks or small rocks with a few scattered rocks nearby. Coves and pockets right on the main body are good places to try. These spotties will also flock to any flooded willow trees on high water years and do like wooded areas.
The third phase of Bass to spawn is the largemouth bass these fish will begin to move closer to shore and hang out in areas close to where they will spawn that have deeper water or shelter. If you have a spawning flat and follow it to the nearest deeper water or point you will find pre spawn largemouth bass. If there is a fallen tree near a spawning bay Big pre spawn females will stack up in huge schools preparing to move shallow. These big girls will suspend around the tree and incubate there eggs before moving to the bank to spawn.
During the pre spawn period for largemouth Bass I will use big baits! These fish are looking for a big and easy meal to fatten up before spawning. Early in the spring most of the bait fish remain deep and the Bass have to eat this can get fun! Your lure is the only thing in the top 20feet of the water column! Spinner baits, swim baits, rip baits, jigs ,plastics and rattle traps will all do well. For spinner baits when fishing shallow I will use a white or chartreuse and white Persuader E-chip spinner bait on 12-15lb test and slow roll the bait right on the bottom! If fishing deeper I like the DM custom baits Sniper spinnerbait in ¾ oz. My favorite swim bait in the pre spawn is the RB Swimmer swim bait this super soft hand poured swim bait has crazy tail action and the Big females just cant stand it! I use either trout or California pearl colors on a Daiichi butt dragger hook. This hook allows me to adjust the amount of weight needed on the fly since it has a crimp off lead system and is a super sharp hook! The only problem with using the RB Swimmer swim bait is I have to revive the fish because they are choking on my swim bait! Simply slow role your soft plastic swim bait and hold on! I recommend 15lb test line for this application. For rip baits I will use shallower diving rip baits and use long pauses to temp these fish to eat! As far as Jigs go there is 3 styles of Jigs I recommend football head style jigs, flipping jigs and casting jigs. I use football head jigs in green pumpkin and brown and purple tipped with a natural colored trailer like green pumpkin chigger craw or cinnamon purple. I use these football style jigs in lakes and or when fishing structure. Next is the Persuader Baits casting jig I use these baits when using a giant jig trailer like a brush hawg the flat head on this jig allows me to slowly swim this big jig right along the bottom effectively. The last style of jig I use is the Persuader E-chip flipping jig I use this jig when fishing shallow and tight to cover like wood, docks, and tulles. This is my go to shallow bait. Remember wood holds heat and rip rap rocks hold heat big females need to incubate there eggs get it? I stick to black and blue or brown and purple jigs with a matching trailer! For plastics I use senkos, texas rigged brush hawgs and 7” Zipper worms. Fish these baits Slow slow and slower! I use 15-20lb test Berkley 100% flourocarbon line on jigs and plastics. If none of this is working I go to the rattle trap in red and orange I look to make long casts on the flats and force the bass to make a quick decision on eating my bait. I recommend 15 lb test for this. This works really well when fronts are causing cold weather in the spring
Largemouth Bass will spawn in areas that are protected from the cold northern winds. Protected coves, bays, marinas and dead end areas with little water movement. these will be the areas to focus on. Flat banks with weeded pockets or small areas that are shallow that breaks off into deeper water. Look for areas with fertile soil and bottom and you will find spawning Bass. During the spawn I will only use a few baits senkos, grubs and frogs. I will blind cast my senko and just dead stick it in areas I think a Bass may be spawning. Simply cast it out and let it sit, the bass will come and pick it up to move it away from the nest so watch your line! If I see a bed fish I may elect to flip a grub into its nest to get them to attack it. I only use natural colors I feel these bass have seen enough white baits once they are bedding. I do this on 12-20 test depending on pressure and water color. If we are in a good warming trend I will use a white or black frog cast it out and let it sit for long periods of time near spawning areas I do this strictly on 65lb test Spiderwire braided line.
No matter what type of Bass you are targeting please practice catch and release at all times during the spring, these fish produce the future population of bass and it is critical they be released properly back into the water. Most bass lakes are self populated and keeping spring bass hurts the future of our resource.
There are many more ways to catch a Bass and many more techniques you can use and learn and have great success at catching Bass in the spring these are just some good starting points to get you going.
Ron Howe’s sponsors are:
Valley Oak Appliance
Persuader Premium Bass Baits
Zipper Worm company
GB Galaxy Graphics