Spring is a time of change and each day is a new day when it comes to how the fish act and bite. Everything from the weather to my fishing style is subject to change once I launch my boat. It is one of the best times of the year to catch a giant and my approach to lure selection is tied closely to the conditions.
A Conditional Time of Year
Weather and water conditions are always important when bass fishing, but I think they become even more crucial during the spring. As the weather is warming up, we often see beautiful calm days followed by nasty windy days. This can really change your plans, and you may have a great day one day and come back to the same areas and not get a bite on your next trip.
What I’ve learned is the fish are often still close by, and it just requires a different approach. You may need to slow down or speed up, or back off to deeper water and drag a jig.
Cloudy vs. Sunny Days
Wind, rain, and overcast days have long been known for being great times to use moving baits, and I always have some tied on during these conditions. Another important thing to look for is current, as that can be a great time to fish reaction baits and cover ground to search for fish that are always on the move this time of year.
When it is calm and sunny, I typically use slower moving baits like jigs and plastics. I’ve also learned that when the water is stained or muddy, and you have a sunny day, the fish tend to move toward shallow and very shallow, and also tend to hold much tighter to cover. It could be because the water is a little warmer, but sun and dirty water is one of the best scenarios during the spring months.
One thing I noticed by using my SondeCAM HD Underwater Camera is that when the water is calm, the fish tend to move much slower than they do on windy days. They also tend to be much more curious and swim over the camera. When it is breezy out, the fish are moving all around like crazy, and it makes sense why reaction baits do so much better when it is windy than they do on flat calm days.
During the pre-spawn, I mix in both fast and slow moving baits and the times I choose one over the other has to do with the conditions. Some of the best moving baits for me this time of year are crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits.
Crankbaits are one of the best ways to catch them before they spawn and I prefer something with a tighter action, like a Duel Hardcore Shad or Shad Crank. They both have a great action that works excellent when the water is still warming up. I’ll use both crawfish and shad patterns, and that comes down to clarity. If the water is clear, I reach for the shad imitators, and if it is a little dirty, I pick the crawfish patterns.
If I’m throwing a swimbait, it is usually a small 3” paddle tail on a jighead, and when it comes to spinnerbaits, I like heavier models with big blades. One of my favorite sizes is a ½ ounce, and I choose one with big Willow or INEndiana blades so I can slow roll the bait and keep it right in their face.
When the bass are spawning, it is pretty simple. Senko, Senko, and Senko. It is one of the best lures in fishing history and works great when the bass are spawning. I’ll either rig it weightless on a wacky-rig or fish it on a Neko rig for spawning bass.
After the spawn, I have a similar approach to how I attack pre-spawn bass fishing. Crankbaits are still good, but I like something with a more erratic action. Square bills are a great choice after they are done spawning.
I’ll also start to fish topwaters this time of year, and the Yo-Zuri 3DB Series Popper and Prop are two of my favorites. They allow you to slow down around shallow cover and this time of year, many bass stay shallow after they spawn either to guard their fry or to start eating bluegill. These baits are two of my top producers during the post-spawn period.
The thing to keep in mind this time of year is that the fish are on the move daily and we must be able to adjust to stay in tune with the fish. Having an open mind and a willingness to scrap my plan and try something different has helped me have success for springtime bass.