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By Sam Rutherford
Spring is a favorite season for bass fishing, as the fish become more active in anticipation of spawning. Largemouth bass feed more often and throughout the day as their metabolism increases and energy needs replacing. That, in turn, increases fishing opportunities and success.
Spring fishing also includes the spawning cycle, specifically the pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn periods. Each requires a different approach for getting the best action on the water.
The bass migrate from deep to shallow water toward the spawning flats, coves, and creeks during pre-spawn. The opposite occurs in post-spawn. The bass migrate back to deeper water but are more lethargic following the stress of the spawn. That makes the actual spawning period one of the most exciting times of the year for bass fishing.
The most ideal setup for catching spawning largemouth bass is catching them by sight as the fish hover over and near their beds. Seeing a bass approach and bite a bait is what makes it so much fun. To do that, clear water is a must to see the casting target.
With this highly anticipated ritual come the drawbacks of bed fishing occurring during spring, when seasonal rains come frequent and sometimes heavy in precipitation. On many reservoirs, the runoff from the rain turns the shallow water areas dingy or even muddy, eliminating the opportunity for sight fishing. When that happens, all it takes is adjusting to the conditions.
Skeeter Boats Pro Team angler Scott Canterbury advises that anglers need to be prepared when the largemouth are bedding in muddy water because you cannot see them, but they can be caught.
“I love blind casting and flipping for bedding bass, and it’s a frequent occurrence during spring,” said Canterbury, also a Bassmaster® Elite Series pro from central Alabama.
"Lightweight flipping is my favorite way to catch bedding bass in muddy water," he continued.
Canterbury prefers to use lighter flipping tackle to the heavy action, heavyweight jigs that are ideal for pre-spawn bass in heavy cover.
“Use lighter creature baits to avoid spooking the already wary bedding bass,” he said.
Ideal conditions for dingy water bed fishing are stable water levels and water temperatures in the 60s. Cadence of the lure presentation is key, according to Canterbury.
“Make lots of casts and pitches, keep the boat moving to cover water because you can’t see the strike zone,” he said. “And most of all make super slow lure presentations.”
Without seeing the strike zone, or lure targets, Canterbury suggests fishing in textbook spawning areas. Pockets off the main lake, flats near deep water, and creeks with winding channels are productive areas to search for bedding bass.
"Don't stay home just because the water is dingy or muddy," said Canterbury. "If the water isn't rising or falling too much, and the temperature is right, then the fish will bite."
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