Spring Bassin' "The Right Place with the Right Bait"
This time of year is always the most intriguing season for bass fishing. The weather patterns are as unsettled as the fish making for unstable weather and unpredictable bassin'. If there is one point of consistency, the bass are as tired of the winter blues as we are, and if you look in the right places and use the right baits, even the passing cold fronts of spring won't discourage a hungry bass.
by Dennis Udlinek
Every body of water is a little different, but they all have some characteristics in common. The bass, having spent this past long winter in their deep water sanctuaries, will now begin to move into the warming shallower water looking for feed and eventually a spawning site. At this time bass can be particularly hungry and may be found roaming about in extraordinarily shallow water in spite of the weather conditions.
Each year I anticipate spring fishing to be filled with days of bone-chilling cold winds followed by intermittent rays of warmth from the sun penetrating my heavy clothes. A sure sign the fish will be moving up is when that warmth penetrates your clothing making it almost unbearable without shedding the outer layer. The intensity of the rising sun on its way to the summer solstice is what begins to pierce the depths of the wintry cold run-off. Concurrently, the time clock in the bass has begun to spring them into action with the warming water. This means the best time for big bass is in the shallows.
5 1/2 pound Largemouth caught on
an early spring day.
Every year I am amazed at how shallow I catch bass. Before the water temperature has even reached fifty degrees, I begin to see a few bass, and by the time the temperature reaches fifty five, look out! Smallmouth bass tend to move up first, but in some lakes with shallows protected from the piercing North winds, even largemouth can be caught in fairly cold water. Just this past week as I walked the pond below my house I spotted a largemouth basking in the early April sunshine in less the 6 inches of water. The air temperature was only 50į and I judged the water temperature to be even less. Often anglers tend to fish too deep in early spring anticipating the still cold water conditions is kept the bass in deep water.
The key is to concentrate on areas where there are transition zones.
The zones are where bass begin staging toward shallow water areas for spring feeding and spawning. These areas are usually adjacent to deep water and may even be adjoined by a shelf, gradually tapering into shallow flats as you proceed along the shore. These areas also offer some protection from predators and are usually fairly rocky or covered with some type of structure. Bass tend to look for subtle staging areas, like steps to the flats, so they may escape to the deeper water when passing storms enter the area. However, more often than not, spring time bass may even be turned on by a passing front.
Specific structure is also a key to locating early spring bass.
Northwest and West banks receive the majority of the sunlight during the course of the day also raising the water temperature in the more protected areas from the piercing cold spring winds.
Structure compositions place a role in the bass habitat.
Darker colored rock holds warmth from the suns' rays in early spring as does mud or sand covered banks. In Southwestern Idaho there are a lot of lava rock formations that can be found along the shore line which often provide excellent places for bass to congregate in early spring.
Remember the water is often stained this time of year due to spring run-off and this year is particularly bad in most places. Oddly enough, the turbid water can also conduct heat from the sunís rays.
I have found that dark colored lures with some hints of chartreuse or white can catch the fishes' attention.
I also sometimes use baits that make some vibration in the water whether it be from placing rattles in them or by the vibration they make going through the water. This allows the bass to locate the source of the sound and thus see the bait so it can attack it. Like a slow turning spinnerbait or wide-wobble crankbait.
I also use scents to enhance the baits flavor, and make it easier to find for the fish.
I don't necessarily believe that it is a particular smell that attracts fish, but it seems to alleviate the chance they might smell my scent, and it seems they tend to hold on to the lure longer.
So for any successful spring bassin' trip, you need; dark, noisy, smelly slow moving lures in shallow water. A can-do attitude, and always keep in mind, the fish are just as anxious to get out on spring days as you are, and all you need is your lure in the right place, to enjoy the fun of spring bassin'.
Good Bassin' -
Don Boeger with a couple of
4 pound early spring bass.
With warming spring waters look for some bass to be extremely shallow. If you're not casting within inches of the shore line, or even on it, whether you're in a boat or fishing from the bank, you'll miss a lot of great fishing opportunity. So keep your line tight , cast shallow, and hold on!