Pro's Picks For Spring Bassin'
Out Of Sight Bed Fishing
While specifics vary by region and by lake, Alabama pro Kyle Mabrey will be thinking about spawning patterns during spring as long as the water temperature is above 60 degrees. Maybrey will look first in the back of pockets off the main lake or off a major creek arm. North Carolina and Tackle Warehouse pro Marty Stone looks for bottom composition. "If you have all clay on the bottom or chunk rock, a bass probably isn't going to spawn there, but if you can find a mix of gravel or sand and a bit of rock, that's where the fish want to spawn," Stone says.
Lure Selection & Presentation:
A Texas rigged 4" Yum Tube is Maybrey's favorite lure both for blind bed fishing and for sight fishing. He'll pitch or cast it to bushes, stumps or other cover that bass will spawn near and will bring it back very slowly along the bottom. For patchy shallow vegetation, which commonly contains beds that are difficult to see, Maybrey's lure choice is a 6" Yum Dinger rigged weightless. He'll cast the bait to holes in the grass and will simply let it fall toward the bottom.
Stone's favorite lure for locating bedding fish and gauging their behavior is a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce spinnerbait. When he comes across the right kind of bottom, he casts a spinnerbait to any dock pilings, stumps or brush in the area. He prefers a tandem willow leaf blade combo and either a shad color pattern or white and chartreuse. When Stone does locate spawning fish, he'll switch over to a 8" Texas rigged lizard or a jig matched with a Zoom Critter Craw.
Out Of Sight Bed Fishing May 2010. Bassin (Jeff Samsek pg. 48-53)
Spawn Fishing With Skeet Reese
"Targeting the shallows is the deal during April. Find areas that have traditionally held spawning fish or just look at small pockets of grass, gravel flats, the back of boat docks or any shallow laydwons. These areas will hold a bunch of fish waiting to scarf down the offering."
"I like to use heavy worm baits, like the Berkley Heavy weights Sinkworm. Heavy worm baits serve a few purposes. They offer a unique fall that fish can't resist, and they are far more durable than traditional worms."
"Wacky rigging the Sinkworm on a 1/0 octopus hook is my preferred method, but if you are fishing a ton of structure, you could get by Texas rigging the bait. Once I cast my bait out to its destination, if nothing gets it on the way down, I reel back in and repeat the process."
Lighter Side of Big Spawn April 2010. Bass Times (Skeet Reese pg. 4)
Using Bluegill Imitators To Fire Up Bedding Bass
Soft Plastic Bluegills:
Soft plastic bluegills, like those made by BaitSmith, Castaic, Mattlures and Storm, have all the weight centered in the head, basically making them giant jigs. This makes them easy and accurate to pitch around beds. Having the head weighted also causes some of them to cop a nose-down stance, while the tail points up. The look exactly replicates that of a bluegill eating eggs. However, the hooking percentage isn't always the best with these lures. "A lot of them only have a single hook in the head," Newman said. "Bass have a tendency to whack the sides of the lures".
Hard Bodied Bluegills:
Newman prefers hard-bodied bluegill swimbaits due to most of them having two treble hooks. The ones made by Tru-Tungsten, Jackall and Mattlures are just as realistic as the soft plastic versions. Of course, they are not without faults. Bass often swipe at bluegill swimbaits, resulting in a lot of hookups outside the mouth. In tournaments, any sighted fish must be hooked inside the mouth.
Aggravating is exactly what blugeill lures are good at. Newman doesn't start tossing in the bluegill until he is sure a regular soft plastic won't work. If the bass is simply not reacting to a soft plastic, that is when he gets the bluegill ready. In the second instance, Newman will continue with the worm to provoke the bass even more. Then, when he feels the bass is fully agitated yet still won't touch the soft plastic, he makes the switch.
Newman will usually have the sweet spot of the bed (the area in the bed that seems to draw the strongest reaction) already pinpointed. He will pitch the swimabit past the bed, let it sink to the bottom and bring it to the sweet spot. Once there, Newman will make the bluegill look like it is feeding by using quick lifts, drops and shakes of his rod tip. "They will usually either crush it or turn off of it" Newman said.
Raiding' Gills April 2010. FLW Outdoors (Sean Ostuszka pg. 44-48)
Pete Thilveros' Spring Lure Selection
Picasso Fantasy Football Jig:
Thilveros tosses a 1/4oz model around boat docks, laydowns, logs and heavier cover to get into places other baits can't go. He drags it slowly in colder water, similar to worm fishing. In warmer, postspawn water, he uses a more aggressive retrieve.
Rapala Clackin' Rap:
This lipless crankbait has a single internal rattle for a unique sound underwater. Thilveros lobs a crawfish colored Clackin' Rap when he's searching for fish and covering as much water as possible. He targets secondary points, flat banks and grass edges with a chartreuse model when fishing dirty water.
This jerkbait works well at two speeds. Thilveros uses a fast, reaction type pace when fish are feeding or a slow methodical pace when the bite is finicky. Thilveros fishes the X-Rap to find spawning and prespwan fish along secondary points, in spawning bays and around docks.
Zoom Super Fluke:
This is Thilveros' go to bait when dragging a Carolina rig or throwing a Petey rig. The Petey rig is a finesse Carolina rig with a slip sinker pegged 8 to 10 inches above the bait. He targets spawning and prespawning areas in shallow water where fish may be cursing.
What Peter Thilveros Throws In April April 2010. Bassmaster (David Jones pg. 23
Chris Lane's Topwater Buzz Frogs & Spawning Bass
Chris theorizes that new emerging vegetation attracts baitfish, which draws bass closer to cover. Bass entering or exiting the spawning cycle are especially quick to react to baitfish or other surface commotion. "Down here in Florida and in other parts of the country, bass will fly off their beds to chase down a frog."
Chris notes not all frogs are created equal. Several anatomical differences exist among frogs produced today. Those include: body thickness, body width and leg type. Chris believes that body thickness directly affects the hook-to-land ratio, while width determines the ease at which a frog will stay above water during the retrieve. "There are times when the bass want a more subtle approach. The Zoom Horny Toad offers a flat foot that creates small and subtle bubbles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Gambler Cane Toad throws a ton of water and seems to attract the larger, more aggressive fish, especially around the spawn."
Lane's Toad January/February 2010. Basswest USA (Paul Strege pg. 60-65)
Early Spring Cranking With Brent Ehrler
Crankbaits are the perfect tool for targeting two areas that bass use in their winter to spring transition. In most of the country, bass are in between one of two areas this time of year, on secondary points heading into spawning areas, or in the backs of creeks feeding and preparing for the spawn. This time of the year, they are somewhere in between, heading towards spawning areas and setting up in them for pre-spawn
I'll use two types of baits for shallow water, and two types for deep water, both depend on the mood of the fish. If they are in a colder water scenario, I'll use the Lucky Craft SKT series. If the water is warmer, then a Lucky Craft Fat CB BDS3 is perfect in shallow water and a Lucky Craft Flat CB DR in deeper water.
The difference between the baits is in the action and the sound. The SKT has a really tight wiggle and no rattles, this is tailor made for targeting fish in 48 to 55 degree water temperature. Once the water climbs above that level, the fish get more aggressive and the wider wobble comes into play, that's when I turn to the BDS or Flat CB series.
I always start with a standard retrieve for each approach. For cranking deep water, I begin with a steady, medium retrieve with the slower gear ratio reel. This insures that the crankbait will run to its proper depth range and will allow me to feel every wobble it makes. In shallow water the fish that are up there are looking to eat something. I turn the reel handle a little faster because I want the bait to bang around a bit, creating a disturbance and causing the bass to react.
Cranking In Early Spring January/February 2010. Basswest USA (Brent Ehrler pg. 74)
Early Spring Lipless Crankbaiting
Before you wet the line, locate the grass first. This time of year, there isn't thick green mats covering acres of water, and few maps have shaded areas that traditionally hold grass. That being that case, FLW American Fishing Series winner Stephen Johnston looks for large flats. "I like flats that are 2 to 8 feet deep and far from the bank. I also look for smaller, shallower flats closer to the shore and at the mouths of large creeks and coves. To me the biggest flats are the best because they have the most fish."
"Edges can be real good, even when the grass is just a few inches tall," FLW pro Jacob Powroznik said. "The inside edge, the outside edge or even the edges of where two grasses meet are great places to fish."
On the retrieve, make sure to adjust the speed or weight of the lure to stay in contact with the grass. Johnston throws everything from a 1/4 to 3/4 ounce lipless crank to a bigger 1-ounce version in clear lakes with deep grass. Although cold early spring weather may seem like ideal conditions for slow moving lures, many bass are caught each year by ripping aggressive lures in grass.
Fishing The Short Stuff March 2010. FLW Outdoors (David Hart pg. 42-44)
Jig Fishing For Spawning Bass With Lonnie Stanley
For starters, Stanley focuses on areas where the fish are most likely to be concentrated this time of year. "I go to the back of creeks, cover and pockets. I head to the northwest side of these areas that are out of the prevailing wind and where the water warms up first. I idle around looking for logs, stumps, standing timber, brush, boat docks, willow trees and vegetation. Anything that bass can build their nests beside is what I look for."
Stanley relies on a small variety of his own Stanley jigs. "I'll use a 5/16, 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jig, depending on the thickness of cover. The thicker the cover, the heavier the bait I use. My favorite colors are watermelon seed, black/blue and black/brown/amber. For trailers I like a Hale craw worm, an Itzabug or a 5" Sidewinder worm with about an inch and a half broken off the front end. The tail end of the Sidewinder has a rattle chamber. So when you use this, you have rattles both in the trailer. I believe the noise they produce helps attract more strikes."
Stanley is very precise when working a potential bedding spot. He expains, "The slower you work your jig, the better. I'll flip or pitch my jig past a likely spot if I can, then I'll reel it up and let it fall where I think the bed should be. I'll let it rest without moving for 10 to 15 seconds. Then I'll make two or three little short hops and let it sit again."
Jig Fishing For Spawning Bass March 2010. Bassmaster (Wade L. Bourne pg. 68-70)
Jig Fishing With Alton Jones
2008 Bassmaster Classic Champion Alton Jones sticks to three types of jigs most of the time. A conventional jig, a football head jig and a round ball head jig, all of which can work in almost any situation.
Though typically pitched or flipped into heavy cover, bullet-head jigs such as the Booyah Boo Jig will work anywhere. Besides hopping it or dragging it along the bottom, Jones likes to swim a jig during prespawn when it's likely to draw reaction strikes. Besides using a Muy Grande Grub occasionally, Jones teams a conventional jig with a Yum Chunk, Craw Papi or Wooly Hawgtail.
"If it's open water and there isn't much cover on the bottom, the football head is the pick," said Jones. "When you retrieve it in the correct fashion, it looks like a crawfish rooting around." Because he fishes it in deep water, Jones usually employs a 3/4oz Booyah Pigskin with a Yum Wooly Hawgtail trailer.
Ball-shaped jigheads such as the Booyah Boo Bug are Jones' go to jigs when fishing in clear, cool water along bluffs or over rock bottom. "Even the smaller round-ball jigs will catch some big bass," Jones noted. "In fact, I like a fish a little lighter head of 3/16 to 1/4oz because I want to slow down the rate of fall."
Jig Fishing With Alton Jones February 2010. Bass Times (Colin Moore pg. 8-9)
Kevin Short's Spring Lure Selection
Jewel Pro Spider Jig:
"My preference is for the 7/16oz model in an orange crawfish color with a Zoom Creepy Crawler in watermelon for a trailer. I usually fish it around any rock or transition areas near channel swings, the mouths of creeks or anywhere I think the bass are staging."
Strike King red Eye Shad:
"I'll usually throw a 1/2oz model with an orange craw finish. If the fish are especially big, I might upsize to a 3/4oz model. I work this bait in the late afternoon on flats, concentrating on any ditches or irregularities I find along the bottom."
Norman Razor Minnow:
"This dog ugly hard jerkbait is a fish catching machine when it's thrown over bass that won't hit a Jewel Jig. Fish the shad finished version with a stop and go retrieve. Vary your pulls and pauses until you find what they want."
What's On My Line February 2010. Bass Times (Kevin Short pg. 6)
Marty Robinson's Spring Lure Selection
Buckeye Lures Mop Jig & Zoom Super Chunk:
"I fish this combination on and around rock, using a 3/8oz brown version of the jig and green pumpkin for the trailer. As the water warms, the crawfish become more active, this drives the bass towards them. Drag and hop it at various speeds until you find what works. Make sure you bang it into rocks from time to time."
Buckeye Lures Short Circuit Flat-Sided Crankbait:
"This crankbait will cover water and trigger strikes from pre-spawn bass almost anywhere. I'm usually throwing it in warmer water with some form of cover, look for wood, docks, weeds or rock. Crank it through the thickest stuff that you can find."
Zoom Super Fluke:
"This bait for clear water in the backs of creeks, pockets, the lower end of most reservoirs and occasionally over sharp channel swings when the bass are suspended. Twitch it two or three times and then let it sit still for as long as you can stand it. I prefer pearl white."
What's On My Line March 2010. Bass Times (Marty Robinson pg. 6)
Randy Howell's Spring Lure Selection
"Anywhere or anytime there are bass swimming, they'll eat a Senko," Howell says. Depending on what kind of cover he's fishing, he'll throw it on a shaky head, Texas rigged or weightless. If he comes across a bedding fish, he throws a 5" green pumpkin Senko at it.
Lunker Lure Hawg Caller:
Howell likes to throw a 1/2oz chartreuse and white model around wood, rock and grass. "In March, just about everywhere there are fish feeding, and a spinnerbait is a good choice because it looks like a big shad," Howell says. "You can also cover a lot of water with it."
Lunnker Lure Football Shaky Head:
This is Howell's go to bait when the bite is slow. "No matter how tough it gets or how bare the shoreline is, a shaky head is the way to go," he says. Howell hangs a Yamamoto Pro Senko on a 1/8oz model and tosses it to cover and works it slowly.
Lunker Lure Rattleback Jig:
Howell says this is one of the most versatile baits in his arsenal. He'll flip a black and blue 3/8oz model to grass, wood and rocks, or cast it to bluffs and rocky banks and slowly drag it into deeper water. He trails it with a 5" black and blue Yamamoto Craw.
What Randy Howell Throws In March March 2010. Bassmaster (David Hunter Jones pg. 23)
Spring Muddy Water Lure Selection
Colorado Bladed Spinnerbait:
"When I'm fishing muddy water, I cast the 'school bus' around and see if any bass want to ride home with me," Gerald Swindle says. His "school bus" is a 1/2oz War Eagle spinnerbait with a chartreuse skirt and head and two chartreuse painted Colorado blades. Bass can't help but see the bright spinnerbait, and the Colorado blades push loads of water and allow for slower retrieves.
Lake Fork Ring Fry:
Bill Lowen's go-to-bait is a Lake Fork Ring Fry in a junebug or black. He Texas rigs this bait with a 3/0 Gamakastsu EWG Super Line hook and an unpegged 1/8 or 3/16 ounce lead bullet sinker. "I pitch it to shallow cover," Lowen says. "The Ring Fry has a lot of water displacement, but it's still a finesse bait that catches finicky bass."
Strike King Pro Model Series 4S:
Strike King's Pro Model Series 4S is Mark Davis' workhorse when he wants to grind a crankbait through wood cover in shallow muddy water. The wide square billed bait defelects nicely off snags, and its wide wobble sends out a strong signal to bass.
Booyah's A Jig:
When Alton Jones confronts muddy water, the first bait that comes to mind is Booyah's A-Jig. He claims that the slow sinking 3/8 ounce size gets more bites under these conditions. "In dirty water, I fish something that bass can find easily," Jones says. "The A-Jig has a bulky Living Rubber skirt. I leave it full, which slows the fall and continues to unfold when the jig rests." Jones dresses the hook with Yum's Money Craw in the Cajun color.
Lunker Lure Buzzbait:
Dirty water rules out most topwater lures, with one exception, the buzzbait. Stephen Browning regularly churns up strikes in mudy water with a black 3/8oz Lunker Lure buzzbait sporting a silver copper or black painted blade. "I crawl that bait across the surface as slowly as I can," Browning says. "Sometimes I bend more cup in the blade with my fingers to slow it down even more."
Lazer Lure Crankbait:
"In murky water, bass chase based on the vibration of forage. So, the first element of lure consideration has to be about water displacement," says Boyd Duckett. He prefers the bait in a red/orange/brown combo that imitates crawfish.
"Muddy water is the perfect place for a 3/8oz Chatterbait," says Casey Ashley. "Bass can feel a chatterbait's vibration from a mile away. When they get close enough to see that flashing blade, they react to it. I hold my rod tip high so I can slow the bait down in shallow water. I keep it in the strike zone as long as I can and give it an occasional pop."
Strike King Spinnerbait:
Kevin VanDam claims he has won more than a half million dollars on his favorite dirty water spinnerbait. It features a 3/8oz head, a No.2 Colorado blade and a No.6 Colorado or Indian blade. "It's lighter than other 3/8oz spinnerbaits," Vandam says. "that helps me slow it down next to cover, which is what you need to do in muddy water."
Scott Rook's dirty water confidence lure is a 3/8oz War Eagle spinnerbait sporting a gold head, a chartreuse and white skirt and a painted red No. 3 Colorado blade in front of a gold No 4.5 Indiana blade. "I've caught bass on that spinnerbait when the water was so muddy you could see coon tracks in it," Rook says.
Lucky Craft Big Daddy Strike 4 Crankbait:
Lucky Craft's Big Daddy Strike 4 comes through for Kelly Jordan when he plows muddy water for bass. This fat 1/2oz shallow running crankbait is made of durable plastic, yet it comes through cover and wobbles with the same lively action of buoyant, fragile balsa crankbaits claims Jordan.
Yum Vibra King Tube:
A black neon 4.25" Yum Vibra King Tube gets the call when Matt Reed fishes shallow cover in dirty water. "The ribs on that bait displace more water than a smooth tube," Reed says. "I always stuff a big glass XCalibur rattle in the tube to help bass find it in muddy water."
V&M Flippin' Jig:
"I like a black and blue 3/8oz V&M Flippin' Jig," Jami Fralick says. "A jig moves more water than a soft plastic bait, and the dark colors shows bass a nice silhouette in dirty water." This jig stands up on the bottom, skips well and rarely snags, claims Fralick.
The Dirty Dozen March 2010. Bassmaster (Mark Hicks pg. 52-59)
What Works During Prespawn
"My best prespawn area in clear lakes is the outer edge of a big flat, Lane said. Bass will stage here by suspending over the spot where it drops from 15 to 25 feet. I'll fish a lipless vibrating crankbait, red or craw on sunny days, chrome or red under cloud cover. I'll burn it on the edges of flats and fish it slower in deep channel swings."
"Bass will be much shallower in murky water, 1 to 5 feet, especially on calm, sunny days. The sun warms dark water quickly. I'll hammer pockets, flats, and shallow channel swings with scattered wood on them with a red craw or chrome lipless crankbait."
"I catch clear water prespawn smallies on rocky points and the edges of big sand flats with isolated wood and gravel patches in 15 to 30 feet of water. I fish shaky head worms around isolated cover, suspending jerkbaits on rocky points, tubes on flats, and blade baits and jigging spoons on deep breaklines."
"To me, murky water means largemouth, so when the lake's thick enough to plow, I'll target new grass growth and scattered wood on points leading to shallow spawning flats. A jig and pig, Strike King Red Eye shad, 3/4oz Sellers Vegas Hooker Spinnerbait or Texas rigged craw will get the job done."
"If any grass has survived the winter, it'll be on points that drop off into deep water, and bass will be on it big time. If there isn't grass present, I'll hit primary and secondary points with channel access and migration routes. I fish suspending jerkbaits real slow in water below 48 degrees, and more aggressively as it warms. A Storm Wiggle Wart crankbait is hard to beat a the beginning of the prespawn period."
"Wood cover becomes increasingly important as the water gets murkier, they'll hunker tight to stumps and logs. A flat sided crankabit using a gentle pull stop pull retrieve will work well here. You can do some serious damage in protected coves and pockets with a buzzbait."
"In clear water situations, I target structures that lead from deep water to shallow spawning areas, like creek channels, ditches and long points. My go to lure would be a swim jig, black/blue or green pumpkin, with a matching Berkley Chigger Craw trailer. I fish this bait around shallow grass or flooded bushes.
"I like to fish isolated wood, weed and rock cover in areas protected from the north wind. Bass are often in mere inches of water, the muddier it is, the shallower they'll be. I love to flip a 4" Berkley Power Hawg or Lake Fork Ring Fry in cold dirty water."
What Works During Prespawn February 2010. Bass Times (Don Wirth pg. 12-13)