Ten tips for catching spring bass
My wood burning of a jumping spring bass
I have seen the new lures, and the advertising for new equipment, and I need it. Looking at all the new lures and fishing equipment, I must get it. Even though I have lures I purchased last year, I have never used them yet. If you are a Bass angler, you know exactly what I mean. Early season fishing can be the best time of the year to catch big bass. They have eaten little through the winter because icy water slows their metabolism. Now that the water is warming; they are getting hungry and ready to eat.
The biggest Bass I have caught was on an opening day of the season, in about six feet of water, near flooded timber. I was using an original black and gold Rapala twitching it on the surface near the trees. I cast it and let it sit near a tree. From about ten feet away, I saw the wake coming through the water. She attacked the lure with so much force her entire body came out of the water. Six pounds, four ounces. It was impressive.
Getting ready to spawn.
1. Several baits work well in the early season. Large numbers of Bass will stay in the shallows throughout the day when the water is warmer. The fish are looking for a place to lay eggs or have laid eggs and are protecting them. Even after the spawn, when they are protecting the fry, they will be close to their chosen bed. They can be aggressive, or they may not move even if you hit them with the lure. I have seen both reactions. It can be very frustrating when you see the fish and put the lure in front of their face, and they do not move.
2. The warmest water will be at the north end of the lake in the spring. The sun is still low in the sky to the south, so the north end will get sun much longer during the day. In one day, the sun can warm the water by 5 degrees. The bass will go to the shallower warmer water because there is more activity from the smaller fish they want to eat. Dark bottom areas on the North end of the lake will warm faster. The dark bottom holds the heat better than light-colored sandy bottoms.
3. Do not pass by the sandy bottom flats, though. There is a lake where I fish. I love to get there before the sun comes up. There is an area on the Northeast side of the lake, about ten acres of sand flat, about 3 to 6 ft deep. I cannot even count the number of bass that I have caught in this area. Fan casting a medium diving crankbait and bouncing it along the sandy bottom. The bass love to cruise the sand flats at sunrise, they are aggressive, and they love to bite.
4. Keep quiet. Especially when fishing in shallow water. The noise you make travels a long way through the water, and it is much louder underwater than what you hear. I have a great radio with a cd player in my boat, I never have it on when I am fishing. Can you imagine what that sounds like to the fish?
I recommend you even shut off your motor before you get to your spot and use the trolling motor to get close. It is even better if you set the trolling motor at a low speed and leave it going while in the shallows, so it makes a low constant sound. If you have it at a high speed and you keep hitting it on and off, it can also spook the fish.
Set things down quietly and move around as little as you can when you are in the shallows. Especially if you are in an aluminum boat, just think, it amplifies any noise you make through your hull and the water.
5. Structure. When you are in the shallows, look for any structure you can see. A weed line forming. Any trees in the water. Any boat lifts, rocks, etc. Never pass a dock without fishing it from the front to the shore. If you have ever fished from a dock, you know that small sunfish and crappies, and other small fish like to hang out around docks. What does a bass like to eat? Smaller fish. The Bass knows that the food will be there, so they go there to eat.
Any weeds like reeds that stick above the water and grow on the sand flats can be unbelievable at the right time. There is a lake that my brother and I have fished extensively. There is a reed bed in about five feet of water on a sand flat that we had fished before and caught fish.
One day in a light rain in early June, we went to the reed bed and over the next 5 hours caught over 80 Bass in the 2-to-4-pound range. Not huge, but nice size and fun to catch in Minnesota. We caught them all on bright purple weightless Texas-rigged plastic worms. It was the most phenomenal single-fishing experience I have ever had. We finally quit because we were tired of catching fish. We have caught hundreds more Bass from those reed beds, but never anything like that day.
6. Cast farther. When in shallow water, and especially if it is clear, you want to cast longer so you do not spook the fish. If you are fishing on a sand flat, you can switch to a rod with a lighter line. You do not have to worry about the fish hanging up in the weeds. The lighter line will let you cast farther and use the smaller baits if you need to.
7. Wear polarized sunglasses. It will amaze you how much better you can see through the glare on the surface of the water and see the fish if the water is clear. Seeing fish always gets you excited. I have never tried one of the underwater cameras, but that is why they have gotten popular. It motivates you if you see the fish. The cameras look cool, but I think I would spend more time watching the screen than fishing, so it would not help me catch more fish.
Use your full arsenal.
8. Try all your lures. Sometimes any lure will work in the spring. Start with the lures that can cover the most water the fastest. Start with a crankbait if you are fishing an open sand flat. If you are fishing a weed line or other structure and the water is choppy, start with a spinner bait or a chatter bait, or a silver minnow. If you get out when the sun is coming up, try a topwater that you can cast near the cover and entice them to bite. If the faster fishing lures are not working, switch to jigs and or worms. Every obvious structure. I start with a Johnson silver minnow and then go to a tube jig or plastic worm before moving on. If you find a lure that is working, use it until it is not. The fish can change what they want often during the same day, so do not rely on only one lure. Try different lures and you will catch Bass.
9. Go to smaller lures. If you just cannot find anything that is working. Go to a smaller bait and something that is a slower lure. A ned rig works great in these situations. A smaller crappie-size spinnerbait or smaller tube jig, or 4-inch plastic worms may just be the ticket for finicky Bedding or post-spawn Bass.
10. Go Bass fishing. If you live in Minnesota like me, and you are a Bass angler, you are part of a smaller group of anglers. Most anglers in Minnesota fish for Walleye and panfish. There is nothing wrong with Walleye or panfish or Pike. I fish for panfish whenever I want excellent fish to eat. There is nothing better than crappie and sunfish fillets lightly breaded and fried in butter.
One thing you may not know if you do not fish for Bass is that you can catch Pike when bass fishing. I catch my fair share of Walleyes while Bass fishing. Fishing weed lines on the edges of deeper water is an excellent place to catch nice eating-size Walleyes, and they will take spinnerbaits and crankbaits easily. My point is to get on the water. You will be hooked, especially if you are like me, and hate sitting still and watching a bobber.