The Spring is an exciting time for bass fishing. This article will give you the tips and tactics you need to make sure you can successfully fish for Springtime bass.
Springtime Pre Spawn Patterns
Look For Warm Water
The early Spring can be a tough time to catch bass. Cold water can still be a problem that keeps bass from biting aggressively.
Finding warm water can be the key to success. As bass are getting ready to spawn, they’ll need to bulk up.
Large females that are looking to produce eggs will needs energy to do so. Finding them could be as easy as finding the warmest water you can.
Ideally, you want to find water over 50 degrees.
Start by looking on the northwest corner of a lake. Why?
The sun spends the majority of the winter in the southern latitudes. As the sun transits the sky, tree lines will cast a shadows.
In the morning these shadows will be cast on the east side of the lake. And as the sun tracks across the sky, the shadows will be cast on the south banks.
As a result, the northwest corner will be the one that gets the most sunlight.
Another potential source of warm water can be shallow creeks. These creeks will usually carry warmer water. Wherever they enter a reservoir or river can be a key spot to find bass.
Find Early Spring Staging Areas
Staging areas are areas in which bass will setup to feed before they move up into their spawning grounds.
This is a standard pattern for early spring bass fishing.
Staging areas will usually have access to deeper water for safety. They’ll also have a stable food supply. This can be crayfish or schools baitfish such as shad.
On large lakes such as reservoirs you should see bass start to stage up stream of major creeks.
Another place to look are entries into quiet coves or canals that lead into ponds.
This staging behavior usually starts when the water temperature reaches the lower to mid 50s. I like to start looking for staging bass when the water hits about 50 degrees.
Once staging is under way, I start looking for likely spots. I’ll look for features like secondary points, underwater humps and brush piles.
These types of structure offer good areas for bass to set up and have access to both shallow and deeper water.
In addition if I can also find a baitfish schools or some rocky bottom, that makes it all the better.
At this time of year I like to throw lures with some red color to them. For some reason early spring bass go crazy for red lures.
There is speculation that it’s because they’re looking to feed on crayfish to help with egg production.
Wherever it is, it works.
Another common occurrence when you’re looking to catch bass in the spring is high winds.
These winds can be used to your advantage. High winds can push plankton onto a points and shorelines.
Schools of bait can also be pushed on these structures. Bass normally are quick to follow.
This can be a great time to slow roll a lipless crankbait or a jerkbait by these areas.
Lures and Tactics For Spring Bass
When fishing for spring time bass, lure selection can make or break your efforts.
Pre-Spawn bass means you’re targeting fish that are looking to fatten up.
As we mentioned before, crayfish imitating lures are a great choice.
But what type of lure?
Spring Bass Crankbaits
I’d highly recommend trying out lipless or regular lipped crankbaits in the early spring.
If the water is cold try crankbaits with a tighter wobble. Many balsa wood based crankbaits normally have the tight wobble I’m looking for. One brand I like to use is Rapala.
Spinnerbaits For Spring Bass
Spinnerbaits are another classic Spring lure for catching bass.
In early Spring, I like to throw a spinnerbait with at least 1 Colorado blade on it.
The Colorado blade seems to slow the lure down more than a willow leaf blade.
This slower action is ideal for pre-spawn bass that may still be dealing with colder water.
If you’re fishing clear water, silver blades are a good bet. As for the body, I would start off with black/blue or shad colors. Green or green pumpkin can also be a good clear water color.
For muddy water I like to use gold blades. White and chartreuse bodies the colors I like to start off with.
As the water warms up and passes that 60 degree mark, I’m ok with using willow leaf blades.
Finally, the weight of the spinnerbait really depends on how deep you want it to go.
I’ll normally stick to something around a 1/2 ounce.
If I want to fish shallower I could switch up to a 3/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce spinnerbait.
I’d reverse that if I want to go deeper.
Soft Plastics For Catching Springtime Bass
One of the most effective types of lures you can use for Spring bass fishing is soft plastic lures.
This includes plastic worms, crayfish, creature baits, lizards, jerkbaits, swimbaits, jig trailers, etc.
Let’s start out with the most popular.
Plastic worms have been around for decades. And remain one of the most popular bass lures of all. There’s a reason for this reputation. Plastic worms can catch em.
So, how can we catch bass in the Spring with plastic worms?
If it’s spawning time and you know that bass are on beds a worm can get them to bite. Just remember that spawning bass are building the next generation of lunkers.
So please, release any bedding bass that you catch as soon as possible.
When dealing with post spawn situations, plastic worms can still be very effective.
Senkos are easily one of the most popular type of plastic worms. A key reason is the way they fall.
When you rig a senko with the hook through the middle of the worm and throw it weightless its action is deadly.
As the worm falls through the water, I has back and forth undulating action that bass find irresistible.
Senkos can be used in almost any scenario. Try casting them into cover and letting them sink slowly.
Learn how to rig them wacky style and you should have no problem hooking up.
Heavy Cover Flipping
As the fish move up into the shallows in the Springtime, you can often find bass in heavy weeds or logs.
Flipping soft plastics into these locations is a great way to search for bass.
Millfoil, Hydrilla and other weeds start growing early in warm climates. Try to find isolated patches of these types of weeds.
In you can find a spot where there is a hole in the vegetation, flip your lure right in there.
The shoreline can also be a good spot for this tactic. If you don’t have a boat, try walking a shoreline and flip plastics into holes in thick weeds.
Fallen trees, and brushpiles are another way to find Spring bass. Use the same tactics as you would in weedy holes.
Keep in mind though that bass can wrap your line on logs and get you hung up.
You may want to use heavier tackle when targeting weeds and wooded cover. I like to go to use braid and 20lb. fluorocarbon leader. I pair this up with a heavy action rod.
Plastic lizards are great Springtime lures. This is especially true when bass are bedding.
It’s one of the most infuriating things for bass to see a salamander raiding their nests.
So, if you’re sight fishing and the bass are on beds. Try and determine what phase they’re in. If the female has already dropped her eggs, then try a plastic lizard.
You can rig it Texas style or with an exposed hook for better hook up ratios.
Try dragging the lizard across the bed. While it’s in the bed, leave it there for a few seconds.
Instead of pulling it out, try shaking it a bit.
Crayfish And Creature Baits
Crayfish are another notorious bed raider. Soft plastics that are made to imitate crayfish or creature baits can cause bass to get very defensive.
Using the same tactic of dragging the craw over the bed, leaving it there and then shaking it a little, can be a winning tactic.
This is especially true if you used a swimbait that is meant to imitate a bluegill.
Bluegills are another notorious scavenger of bass eggs. So, whether a bass is loading up in the pre-spawn or defending a nest during the spawn, try a bluegill swimbait.
Of course these baits can work all year. But once the spawn is over, I like to switch to a more slender profile.
This means that flukes come into play. These slender soft plastic baits have a great darting action.
I love to fish them weightless. This gives them a great tantalizing fall. Give them a couple of jerks and then watch them sink like an injured baitfish.
For more info on how to fish a fluke, check out my guide here..
When you think about finesse baits, think small.
Sometimes in the spring, large, noisy presentations won’t work. Trying out smaller lures could be the key.
This can be especially true in clear water. Bass can get finicky and shy away from thick lines.
In these scenarios, I like to try smaller soft plastics.
One of the most popular finesse plastics lures is the ned rig. It’s basically a short worm threaded on a weighted jig hook.
It’s only 2.75 inches long. It doesn’t have a curly tail or much action at all. It basically just sits there. That’s the idea though.
These types of rigs can be deadly on bass that aren’t being aggressive. They also work well on Smallmouth Bass.
Another finesse option is a small 4 inch plastic worm rigged on a drop shot.
A drop shot is simply a line with weight on it. Then a few inches or feet above the weight you have a small hook on which you put your worm.
This keeps the worm off the bottom. So, if you see bass just hanging suspended a foot or two off the bottom, this is a rig you may want to try.
There are many colors to choose from, but trying simple colors like Green Pumpkin or Black and Blue are a great start.
Once The Spawn Starts
Before Eggs Are Laid
When you think about bass fishing in the Springtime, one thing comes to mind: The Spawn.
But there is a period of time when things can get downright hard. The time when bass are done fattening up and are starting to bed can be very frustrating.
At the very start of spawning activity, bass can get into a state where they won’t be interested in eating much.
It’s very difficult but not impossible to catch bass in this state. It can be done, but you usually have to aggravate them into biting your lure.
This is a good time to try jigs with plastic crayfish trailers. Drag these along the bottom of spawning areas and you might get a strike.
If you’re able to see the bass you’re targeting, keep in mind that you may need to make multiple casts.
At first they might not be too interested. But as you continue to present the lure and pass it over their bedding area, you might get them to hit.
Patience can be key here. I’ve heard of anglers spending hours trying to get a bass to hit.
I have personally returned to a spot to see if a bass was finally in the mood ti hit my lures.
After Eggs Are Laid
In the early Springtime male bass set up a bed, to attract a female and get her to lay her eggs in the bed. The male bass will then fertilize and protect the eggs.
After eggs are laid both the male and the female will hang around the nest to protect the eggs.
This is a time when it’s easier to catch these bass. However, keep in mind that bass are protecting their eggs. So please release them as soon as you can. Also, try not to move them from that location.
With that said many of the same tactics we covered will work. Crawl a jig and crayfish imitation across the bed.
A bluegill imitating swimbait is also a good bet. Bluegills love to eat bass eggs, so male bass will be especially wary of them.
If you can’t get the bass to strike, try switching up bait types, sizes or colors.
I’d start with changing the type. For example, switch from a soft plastic swimbait to a jig with a soft plastic crayfish imitation.
Remember, fishing for spawning bass in the spring can be controversial. But if you release them quickly, they normally get right back to the task of protecting their beds.
Post Spawn Spring Bass Fishing
Once the spawn is over, bass fishing can get complicated. Many bass will remain in the shallows. As the Spring continues and the water warms they will use the growing weeds as protection.
Other bass will take advantage of sunken timber for structure on which to set up an ambush.
It’s common for the same locations that held bass before the spawn will once again hold bass after the spawn.
These were preferable locations to begin with. So, the key is to figure out where the preferred locations are for bass to spend the warmer months in.
These locations usually have the following features:
- Easy access to deeper water.
- Access to feeding grounds.
- A break in the monotonous lake or riverbed.
- Relatable structure.
So, let’s look at each of these in more depth. The first one: easy access to deep water is mainly for protection. If anything bad happens, bass will want a quick escape route.
The second is simple. Often times baitfish schools will attract schools of bass that follow them. So, if you can find a big school of shad or shiners, you should definitely be able to find bass nearby.
Breaks in monotony are a change in the bottom structure. For example: A long sandy bottom all of a sudden changes and becomes strewn with small rocks and boulders.
The area where this change occurs is a key spot to check for bass.
Finally, relatable structure means something that a bass get get close to and use as cover.
- A sunken log.
- A rock that is larger and juts up higher than others.
- A point of weeds that stretches out towards a river channel.
Catching bass in the Spring doesn’t have to be a mystery with this tips. Keep these patterns in mind and you should be able to find bass throughout the Spring.
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