Early spring is the monumental highpoint of a bass angler’s year; especially a fisherman from the north who has been shut in by snow, sleet and freezing temperatures for the past four months or more. To the average Joe, spring means cleaning, painting and baseball season but to the bass angler, who has been chomping at the bit for early-April to arrive, spring means restringing the poles, taking the cover off the boat and breaking out all those new lures you bought over the winter months. And then that shining moment finally arrives where you’re at your favorite spot and open the tackle box, look at all the shiny new lures, and think, “What do I tie on?”
Early-April bass, particularly largemouth, are just like humans; excited that winter is over and ready to get outside and move around. As the water warms to 55 degrees and above, smaller waters before larger, bass will be making consistent movements from their winter depths to the shallows and back. This means that areas with dramatic depth changes and structure will most likely hold bass.
What an angler should consider when selecting a lure for early spring bassin’ is that bass are looking for a big, easy and no-nonsense meal. With the spawn on its way, bass need energy and cannot afford to expend it on chasing prey. To an angler, this means, large, slow presentations. Weed lines near drop-offs can be fished with a slow-retrieved popper or floating frog. Bass holding to underwater structure such as branches, stumps or drop-offs are susceptible to Texas-rigged worms or lizards, slow rolling crankbaits and suspended jerkbaits. Jigs also can generate strikes when retrieved in a stop-and-go pattern where depth changes.
Color pattern and size really depends on the type of baitfish that the bass are used to foraging on. If there are bluegill and pumpkinseeds in the area, then a fire tiger or chartreuse pattern will best imitate them. Water with schools of small minnows or shiners, usually rivers and large lakes, are best hit with white, black or shiner patterns. Weight also depends on the depth you plan to fish. Soft plastics are best fished at the bottom or on structure while crankbaits should be selected so that the bill drags along the bottom or structure.
As most anglers are aware, the pre-spawn is one of, if not the best, time of year for bass fishing. When bass are looking to eat a lot and often, you can’t ask for more. Instead of spending half of your time on the water switching from lure to lure, simplify by sticking with the basics; slow cranks and spinnerbaits, big worms, finesse poppers and large jerkbaits.
Enjoy this time of year by exploiting bass’s hunger and eagerness to change depth and gear up for the spawn.