The spring of the year is a wonderful time to be an avid bass fisherman. Pre-spawn bass begin to stage in the shallows, where they can be found in significant numbers. During this period, the bass typically feed with a vengeance, providing a wealth of opportunity for any determined angler. If you are drawn to the pursuit of trophy bass, then the spring season serves as a “can’t miss” opportunity.
During the spring, largemouth bass can be caught on a variety of lures, with the use of many different tactics. This allows anglers to strategize in a manner that best suits their individual skill sets. With ample perseverance and a dose of luck, most will boat a significant number of bass, with little difficulty.
Top Spring Bass Lures
If you were to take a look inside of a serious bass fisherman’s tackle box, you would be greeted by many different types of lures, all of which hold their own distinct value. During the spring, most anglers will throw a variety of lures on any given day, depending upon the conditions of the lake that is to be fished.
The following are several of the most productive bass fishing lures commonly used during the spring of the year.
Suspended jerkbaits tend to be the perfect choice when the bass stage at various depths during the spring, as they begin transitioning toward the shallows. Lures of this nature carry a profile that is similar to that of many different baitfish species. Bass are instinctively drawn to these lures, because of the erratic swimming motion that is replicated when they are retrieved, often triggering a reactionary strike.
Jerkbaits can be retrieved in numerous ways, adding to their versatility. Some of the most common of these retrieves include ripping, pulling, and deadsticking. Deadsticking especially shines when bass begin to go on bed. With this approach, a jerkbait is reeled into the bed itself, where it is left to linger. Territorial bass will strike at this perceived intruder, in hopes of chasing it away from the bed.
Suspended jerkbaits are rated for various depths, each of which proving to be most applicable in a given situation. The depth of a jerkbait is selected to mirror the depth at which bass are suspending. This places an angler’s lure squarely in the strike zone, thereby increasing one’s odds at success.
Spinnerbaits are another springtime favorite and can produce numerous strikes, especially when fishing in or around a structure. Spinnerbaits consist of a skirted jig, with an attached blade. This blade is attached to a spinnerbait’s body via an angled wire frame and pulsates as the lure is retrieved. This pulsation, along with the natural fluttering of the lure’s skirt, creates both audible and visual attraction, thereby drawing a significant response from nearby bass.
Many anglers fish spinnerbaits around submerged brush and aquatic vegetation, as bass begin to enter the shallows, prior to the spawn. Bass often wait in these locations, ambushing any source of food that comes nearby. A spinnerbait capitalizes upon this fact, by triggering reactionary bites when presented in this manner.
Spinnerbaits come in many different sizes, colors, and blade configurations. As a general rule, natural colors tend to perform quite well in moderately clear water, while more vibrant colors are the selection of choice in stained or murky waters. Spinnerbaits also feature a wide array of blade types, including those of a willow or Colorado style.
Lipless crankbaits are a highly effective lure when attempting to cover significant expanses of water during the pre-spawn period. Unlike a standard crankbait, lipless crankbaits do not feature a bill. Instead, diving is facilitated by the lure’s pointed nose, which creates enough downforce when traveling through the water to replicate a swimming motion. Many lipless crankbaits also feature built-in rattles, which create similar sounds to that which is presented by baitfish within the water column.
Most lipless crankbaits come in a rather standard form, with little variance in body shape, or size. However, crankbaits of this nature do come in both sinking and suspending varieties. Sinking crankbaits will gradually fall to the lake floor, while suspended lures will hold at the particular depth that they are fished. An angler’s choice between these two styles of lipless crankbaits is generally dependent upon the depth at which fish are suspending, and the particular method of retrieve that is to be employed.
Lipless crankbaits also come in numerous colors, that range from mild to vivid in tone. The most popular of these colors tend to be those that most accurately mimic the appearance of baitfish within a given body of water. Color schemes that mirror the appearance of juvenile bluegill and sunfish are also quite popular.
Bass tend to rely heavily upon sound and vibration when searching for food, especially in stained or murky water. Chatterbaits appeal to bass, based upon this very principle. Lures of this type feature a jig-like body, with a bladed leading edge. In fact, many anglers refer to chatterbaits by their alternative name, the bladed jig.
As a chatterbait is worked through the water, the blade at its leading edge pulsates, creating a “chattering” noise, which is detected by nearby fish. Meanwhile, a chatterbait’s skirt flutters, creating outstanding visual appeal. In many instances, this proves to be the perfect combination of visual and audible appeal, which is needed to coax a strike from even the most reluctant of bass.
Chatterbaits come in a number of different colors and are offered by numerous manufacturers. Of these manufacturers, few have been more vested in the continued development and popularization of the chatterbait than ZMan Fishing Products. The company offers numerous premium chatterbaits, which are widely used by pros from around the world.
Plastic worms have been a favorite choice of bass anglers for several decades. Throughout the year, bass feed heavily upon nightcrawlers, with the spring being no exception. Therefore, any lure that replicates this favored food source, is of substantial value. The subtle action of plastic worms also tends to be perfect when attempting to coax bites out of lethargic bass, which are less apt to target schooling baitfish.
Soft plastic worms come in many different forms, lengths, and colors, all of which hold their own specific value in various applications. Ribbon, twister, and paddle worms tend to be among the most popular soft plastic worm varieties. Green pumpkin, chartreuse, and watermelon colored offerings also tend to be quite popular. Many of these lures are also saturated in fish attractant of one particular form or another, to provide additional appeal.
The manner in which a soft plastic worm is rigged depends upon the situation at hand, and an angler’s preferred methods. The Texas Rig has remained extremely popular over the course of the past several decades. This rig is of a weedless configuration, and features a free-sliding bullet sinker at the worm’s forward end.
At times, reluctant bass can drive even the most seasoned of anglers crazy. Bass tend to become lethargic with the passage of cold fronts, and will often show little interest in feeding. When situations of this type arise, an angler must have a trick or two up their sleeve, or risk going home dejected. Many anglers employ finesse fishing techniques when unfavorable conditions present themselves, in order to turn a slow day of fishing into an overwhelming success.
Finesse baits often take on the form of a miniaturized plastic work, which can be presented in many different manners. Unlike full-length plastic worms, finesse worms tend to be no more than 2 ½”-3” in length, and are often rigged to specialized jig heads, which come in various weights. Finesse worms appeal to lethargic bass, due to their small size and subtle presentation. Bass visualize a worm of this nature as an easy meal, even when they are unlikely to strike larger, faster moving lures.
Finesse worms can be jigged, dragged, hopped/skipped, or even be left to sit, with little action imparted by an angler. By experimenting with each of these tactics, an angler can get a feel for the exact presentation that fish will most aptly respond to, on any given day.
The following are several tips to increase your spring bass fishing success.
- Stay Stealthy: Spawning bass can be frightened from their beds when facing intrusion. Therefore, it is important to remain as stealthy as possible in your approach. Try to avoid dropping or banging objects against the inside of your boat, and travel only as closely to bass beds as is necessary to get within comfortable casting distance.
- Keep A Well Stocked Tackle Box: During the spring, bass tend to favor certain lures and presentations over others. Therefore, it is important to keep numerous lures at your disposal. Additionally, it can be helpful to pre-rig several rods with varying lures, as to prevent downtime when the need for a different approach presents itself.
- Wear Polarized Sunglasses: In moderately clear water bass beds can often be spotted by the eye. However, glare from the water’s surface often makes it impossible to see what lies beneath the surface. In order to eliminate such issues, wear a quality set of polarized sunglasses. Glasses of this nature eliminate glare, allowing one to easily locate spawning bass.
- Prepare For The Weather: The weather can be quite unpredictable during the spring of the year, in many areas of the country. One minute, the sun can be shining, only for the rain to begin pouring down moments later. To combat this issue, and remain on the water, be sure to have a rain suit at the ready during every outing. After all, you cannot catch fish if you have been pushed off of the water by an abrupt rain shower.
How to Find Bass in Spring
During the spring, bass prepare for the annual spawn by migrating toward the shallows. During this process, bass stage along points, ridges, and drop-offs. Such spots are especially favored when they adjoin shallow flats of varying sizes.
Bass also tend to hold tight to cover during the spring season, which includes stump beds, brush piles, downed trees, and patches of aquatic vegetation. Such cover found in combination with lake contour variance often signals a wealth of opportunity for bass anglers and is always deserving of a few casts.
A fish finder can be employed to assist an angler in locating key areas, such as those mentioned above. A single afternoon of studying a lake under the guidance of sonar will typically reveal numerous points of interest, many of which are likely to hold bass in significant numbers.
In absence of a fish finder, an angler can consult lake maps for a given body of water, in order to locate many of the same promising locations. Maps of this nature usually display contour lines, as well as brush piles and fish attractor locations. In most instances, maps of this nature can be purchased at tackle and bait shops located within close proximity of a given lake.
Fishing Techniques for Spring Bass
During the spring, bass fishermen utilize various techniques in order to achieve success. Each technique is of value when applied in the most logical manner. Anglers determine their approach based upon a number of factors, which include water clarity, lake conditions, spawn-phase, and water temperature.
The following are several of the most popular techniques utilized by bass fishermen during the spring.
- Fish On The Move: One tactic that is widely employed by bass anglers during the spring involves covering significant amounts of water, in search of productive fishing. When fishing in this manner, anglers troll about, in a bid to locate isolated pockets of staging fish. This typically involves the use of fast moving baits, such as crankbaits, chatterbaits, or jerkbaits. This method of fishing can pay dividends when fishing a lake that one is largely unfamiliar with.
- Structure Fishing: Another popular springtime bass fishing tactic is structure fishing. This tactic involves thoroughly working structure within known areas of promise. Such locations are often found in transitionary areas, where points and drop-offs transition to shallow water flats. Bass congregate around vegetation, trees, and other brush within these areas, as they stage in preparation for the spawn. Structuring fishing centers around picking apart this cover with various lures, until success is found.
- Bed Fishing: When bass spawn, they will aggressively protect their beds from any perceived threat or intrusion. Many anglers key in on this fact, to entice strikes from large spawning females, who will readily swat at any lure that encroaches upon their area. Suspended jerkbaits tend to be the perfect choice for completing this task, as they are capable of hanging within the strike zone, further provoking bass during the height of the spawn. Bed fishing is known to produce many trophy size bass on an annual basis and is ideal for anyone who values size over quantity in their catch.
Bass Fishing Tips in Early Spring
The following are several tips for finding bass fishing success during the spring of the year.
- Mimic The Food: During the early spring, bass feed heavily in anticipation of the upcoming spawn. The exact diet of bass within a particular body of water differs by region, but typically includes minnows, shad, crawfish, worms, frogs, and insects. Therefore, it is an angler’s job to mirror these primary food sources within their presentation. The best way to accomplish this is by studying a lake’s ecosystem, in order to determine what bass are feeding most heavily upon, thereby allowing you to tailor your efforts accordingly.
- Cover Significant Water: As water temperatures rise during the early spring, bass begin transitioning to shallower waters. However, this transition often occurs in a staggered manner, with some fish reaching the shallows weeks before others. Covering a significant amount of water in a single day typically proves to be among the most productive ways to locate the scattered fish. Doing so generally involves working from deeper points, inward toward the shallows, while attempting to draw reactionary strikes.
- Follow The Baitfish: Bass feed heavily upon schools of baitfish throughout the year, with spring being no exception. These baitfish congregate in schools, which bass quickly key in on. Anglers can often locate bass, by simply locating these baitfish schools. Doing so can be as easy as looking for disturbances atop the water, or visually confirming a school’s presence beneath the surface of the water, with the use of a pair of polarized sunglasses.
- Stick With What Works: During the spring, bass will key in on a particular food source, feeding relentlessly until conditions change. Therefore, an angler can find continued success by sticking with an approach that is yielding success. Likewise, bass favor certain areas, where they stage in substantial numbers. As a result, an angler can often fish in a particular area, with the use of a favored lure, and reel in one bass after another.
Best Places for Bass Fishing
Lake Guntersville, AL
Lake Guntersville, located in Alabama, has served as a bass fishing hotspot for numerous decades. The famed bass fishery has even served as the host location of the Bassmaster Classic on numerous occasions, most recently in 2020. Many anglers find luck fishing along the lake’s numerous eelgrass beds or riprap walls.
Lake Okeechobee, FL
Lake Okeechobee is among the top destinations for those looking to land trophy size largemouths. Lake Okeechobee is a unique lake that is shallow throughout its entirety. This provides anglers with an enormous expanse of water on which to base their efforts. Many 7-10 pound bass are caught annually on Okeechobee.
Southern California Lakes
Those in search of mega bass often refer to southern California as ground-zero. Numerous lakes within this region regularly produce record class bass, with Dixon Lake, Castaic Lake, and Lake Casitas being a few of the most prominent. Anglers typically pursue these trophy-caliber largemouths while on bed, during the spring.
Lake Fork, TX
Lake Fork, located in Texas, is another fishery that is well known for its regular production of sizable bass. Bass begin their annual transition to shallow water early in the spring, as the warm Texas heat causes water temperatures to rise quickly. Those who are on the water during this annual warming period tend to find substantial success.
Lake Seminole, GA
Lake Seminole is located along Georgia’s southwestern border and provides a wealth of opportunity to those looking to boat a significant number of springtime bass. With over 400-miles of shoreline, Seminole provides plenty of elbow room for those pursuing bass as they transition to the shallows. This body of water is heavily saturated with cover, allowing anglers to pick off bass as they stage at such points.