Spawning baitfish create solid opportunities to target bass. Making the most of them begins with understanding the bait’s spawning behavior and whereabouts.
If you’ve ever toted a plate of cupcakes into a room filled with children, set the cupcakes down and watched what happened next, you can imagine what occurs when the forage species of bass spawn. The bass soon figure out that their favorite foods are congregated and captivated, and they show up for the feast.
Dig bottom with a crankbait
Always use a crankbait that will dive deeper than the depth you’re fishing. You always want to be rooting up the bottom. A lot of times that will stir up the fish and get reaction strikes, even when they’re just down there with their bellies on the bottom and not wanting to eat.
New technology offers advantages to put more bass in your boat
When you’re fishing with an old-school bass angler, nothing will sour his face faster than seeing you slip a smartphone out of your pocket to peek at your email. As understandable as that attitude is, no one can rightly deny that today’s phones provide a tremendous amount of useful stuff. Such a device can be as valuable as your graph or a good landing net. In fact, your phone is more like a toolbox than a tool because each app serves a separate function.
What to do when bass are just bumping swimbaits
When I’m not getting good hookups, there are a couple of things I try. For one, I might add a small treble to a belly-weighted hook, or even to the hook where it comes out the top. If the fish are just grabbing at the tail, I might make a short leader of monofilament or braid and connect one end to the main hook and the other to a small treble.
Switch gears and baits for muddy-water bass
It happens to just about everybody in the spring – you’re fishing a fairly shallow run of bank and catching bass on soft-plastics or topwaters. Then a storm front comes through and really muddies up the water you’ve been fishing. The next day, you can’t buy a bite. Most of the time, the fish haven’t left or haven’t stopped eating; they’ve just had to switch gears.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Whenever you’re sight-fishing in shallow water and moving around, you never want to take your eyes off of a potential target if you can help it. The reason is simple: You might lose track of it.
Sunshine is the fisherman’s best friend now
Staying in front of the fish is critical in the early spring. I believe that the first wave of spawning bass is the largest in the lake, and a fisherman needs to be there when they move up.
Bulge shallow crankbaits at the surface for an explosive springtime bite
Just as the best bass pros are multidimensional, sometimes the best lures are too. Take shallow crankbaits for example. Not only can they dive and deflect off cover; many can also be made to wake the surface. Wakebaiting is a technique that lies somewhere between cranking and topwater fishing, but whatever the definition, it excels when other crankbait patterns flicker in effectiveness.
Keying on spring transition banks
It seems that the weather has been more up and down this year than usual, which makes it even harder to get dialed in to where the bass are and what they’re doing. Despite the dramatic weather swings this spring, though, the fish in general are gradually moving up toward their spawning areas.
How to tackle rising and falling water in spring
Sitting outside a small cove on the first morning of practice for the 2009 Walmart FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake, the 3M Scotch Tape and Peltor Brands pro from Dover, Ark., tried to peer to the back of the cove. Had the water been at a normal level, his line of sight would have been clear. Instead, it was blocked by a “logjam” of junk collected between flooded buck brush.
Choosing the proper jerkbait for varying springtime conditions
Take in an early spring tournament on just about any fishery, and you’ll see dozens of anglers jerking, twitching and snapping a bevy of slender minnow-shaped jerkbaits. Yet the same select and relatively small group of anglers usually cashes the bulk of the checks on many lakes during the spring. Somehow, they manage to set themselves apart.
Match buzzbait to the cover you’re fishing
Buzzbaits don’t all run in a straight line. A lot has to do with how the blade is cupped. When fish are taking buzzbaits, it’s important to have one that veers to the right and another that goes in the opposite direction, as well as one that tracks straight.
Rig up with a screw-lock jighead
Pretty much all umbrella rigs are the same, as far as I’m concerned, but the jigheads and swimbaits you use with them aren’t. In my experience I’ve found that screw-lock heads are the best to use rather than the kind where you just worm the swimbait onto it.
Logic suggests that locals should dominate tour-level events, but the stats prove otherwise. So we asked several top pros to explain why, and they revealed that fishing “in the moment” always trumps “fishing memories” on the tournament trail.
How is it then that locals get beat so often? How can anglers who have never laid eyes on a lake come in and win tournaments against guys who have years of experience there? The answer, according to a few of today’s top pros, rests in the ability to “fish the moment;” that is, to tap into the current behavior of bass and not what they were doing last year, last week or even yesterday.
Treat hooks like the specialized tools they are
No matter what type of fishing you like, choosing the best hooks for the technique and keeping the hooks in good shape is very important.
Getting the most out of a spool of braided line
Braided line will last a lot longer if you take it off your reel spools and store it indoors when you’re not going to be using it much. I have my own system for storing braided line.
Secret is out as Minnetonka, Minn., company launches new Scatter Rap line
The company that introduced the Original Floater, Shad Rap and DT Series says its newest line of lures could be its most successful yet. And so far, action is speaking louder than words as all the major industry retailers, including Walmart, have purchased a piece of the action.
When to lighten up on umbrella rig hooks
Umbrella rigs are really effective in the Ozark mountain lakes I routinely fish, especially in late fall through early spring. These lakes typically have standing timber in them and when you snag an umbrella rig you’re often faced with one of two possibilities – either you’re going to lose the whole rig or you’re going to waste a lot of fishing time trying to free it.
Use electronics to figure out bass
Fishing electronics have really come a long way. There was a time when you couldn’t be sure what kind of fish were under your boat. But with the electronics we’ve got now, you can just about see their scales.
Keep time on your side during a tournament
It’s always best to keep up with running times from one place to the next. By the end of the day, no matter where you wind up, you should be able to estimate how long it’s going to take to get back from where you are at quitting time.
Choosing the best spinnerbait blade
I live around deep, clear lakes and I love to slow-roll a spinnerbait in deep cover. That’s how I won the Forrest Wood Cup in 2007. A spinnerbait can be used to catch bass at any depth, in any season, though. Most of the time I use a ¾- or 1-ounce spinnerbait for slow-rolling and it’ll have a No. 5 willow leaf and a small Colorado blade with it as a kicker.
About a week ago, I received the first copies of my new book called, "Walleye Trolling: Tackle, Techniques and Systems Used by North America’s Best Walleye Tournament Pros and Guides," which I co-authored and self-published with FLW magazine contributor and professional walleye guide Ross Robertson.
Yo-yoing a lipless crankbait for prespawners
A lot of fishermen think that using a lipless crankbait in late winter or during the early prespawn is all about chunking and winding, but I’ve had better success yo-yoing one off the bottom.
Giving fish a second chance with an umbrella rig
A lot of people don’t use an umbrella rig in the prespawn, but maybe they should. To me it’s a great follow-up lure to a lipless crankbait or square-bill when you’re fishing shallow flats or gravel banks.