Try These Four Spring Bass Fishing Tactics
By Sam Rutherford
Have you ever thought of using the weather forecast to plan your fishing strategy? Do you look for specific water color during spring to catch more fish? Is there one lure that can catch bass anywhere in spring? What is the best big bass lure for spring?
Read on for answers to the above questions, and use these four tactics this spring for better bass fishing success.
Watch the Weather
Bassmaster® Elite Series pro-Chris Zaldain looks at the five-day weather forecast to plan when his best chances will be for springtime success.
“If the sunshine icon appears for more than two days, then I’m going to go right to the bank,” he said. “That two or three days of sunshine warms the water and pushes largemouth to spawning areas.”
When that happens, the Texan rigs up a 1/2-ounce Santone Lures M Series Flipping Jig, black and brown pattern, and with green pumpkin trailer. He flips or pitches the bait to any shoreline cover encountered in three feet or less of water.
If the forecast shows cool nights and cloudy days, then he backs his Skeeter FXR20 off the bank and changes tactics.
“The bass will stage on the first break out in front of shallow flats,” he said. “It’s more of a pre-spawn bite, and you want to use reaction baits."
Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, or any lure that will trigger strikes will get favorable results.
Find the Mix
Water clarity varies in spring as springtime rains dingy the water, followed by periods of sunny days that clear it up. Those changing conditions in water clarity also affect bass behavior, and especially with largemouth. Those gravitate to just the right mix of clear and dingy water, avoiding the extremes at each end of the clarity spectrum.
Zaldain recognizes the upper end of a lake, and its shallower tributaries get the most runoff—and dingy water—before it filters and becomes clearer farther down lake.
“I like to launch my boat on the upper end of a lake and work down, searching for the perfect mix of clear and dingy water,” he said. “When you find it, you can eliminate most of the lake as unproductive, and that means much of the lower lake.”
Zaldain describes the perfect mix of water clarity with 1 1/2- to 2 feet of lure visibility below the surface.
“I call it reaction colored water, because the fish have concealment in the dingy water, and clear enough water to see baitfish,” he said.
“The fish like to feed in it, they like to spawn in it,” he added. “It’s just the magic zone of water clarity for everything the bass need in spring.”
Zaldain identifies such areas as the "upper mid-section of the lake." Finding that area on larger impoundments, and the magic mix of clarity can consume a lot of fishing time. Zaldain says his Skeeter FXR2O allows him to speed up the process and get fishing sooner.
"I can stay on a pad in shallower water, running my boat at about 16 mph, without having to shut down to an idle," he explained. "In a tournament situation that can be key, when you need to be fishing more and running less.
Swim a Jig
Bassmaster® Elite Series pro Matt Herren uses a not-so-popular bait in spring to catch largemouth anytime, anywhere, and it can be used all day long.
It’s the swim jig, a lure more popular during fall when bass are feeding on roaming schools of shad.
"A swim jig allows me, by size, weight, and color, to imitate everything the bass are feeding on," said the Alabama pro. "I can go all white for shad, use bluegill when they spawn, or crawfish colors when they are doing the same thing."
Pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn. Herren uses the swim jig throughout the spawning cycle. For added strike appeal, he says to use the favorite soft plastic trailer of your choice. His is a Reaction Innovations®, Spicy Beaver.
“I like to look for stained water (as does Zaldain) because the fish are more aggressive in that clarity of the water," he explained. "It's really an effective lure when the water temperature gets above 55 degrees."
For lure targets, he prefers swimming the jig over submerged vegetation, but boat docks and other shallow transition areas will produce good action.
Flip over a Jig
Herren is a bonafide jig flipping junkie and especially in spring.
“When the bass get into the spawning mode, they don’t like what I call creepy crawly things,” he said. “They get very defensive and especially when on the beds, about to spawn or when guarding fry.”
Creep crawly things are best described as crawfish and bluegill that like to prey on bass eggs and their fry. A bulky jig fits the bill for imitating both.
“The larger profile of a jig and trailer gets their attention, and what is more, it’s a proven big bass catcher, no matter where you live in the nation,” he said.
If there is any one tip Herren said he could provide about springtime jig fishing, it's all about color selection.
“I choose what I like to call ‘trigger colors,’ which turn a jig into a reaction bait,” he said.
The white flash of a darting shad, the bright translucent pinchers or body armor of a spring crawfish, are what define those attention grabbers. For trailers, he dresses up the jig package with a Reaction Innovations® Big Twerk or Little Twerk, choosing bluegill colors to grab the attention of the bass.
“Jigs aren’t as popular today as the wide variety of soft plastics that we call creature baits,” said Herren. "That is all the more reason to use a jig because the bass sees less of it."
Herren looks for shoreline cover located near creek channels, ditches, or funnels used by the bass as migration routes and transition areas to the spawning areas.
“Flipping a jig is a big bass tactic in spring, and it gets even bigger and better results with a jig,” he added.
Watching the weather (for more than knowing what to wear), plotting your moves by watching the water color, using an uncommonly used lure, and flipping a jig. All are tactics that can improve your springtime fishing success.
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