It's springtime, and everyone's excited about warming waters and more active bass. But sometimes that excitement turns to frustration when the fishing's not quite as good as we think it's going to be or should be.
Yes, the fish are shallower and more active than they have been all winter. They're eating more and are more susceptible to our lures, but that doesn't mean we're going to get out there and hammer them. At this time of year — like every other — you just never know. But there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor — things a lot of other anglers don't do.
Unless you're sight fishing and targeting individual fish on beds, this is a great time to speed up your approach, make more presentations and get on a reaction bite.
A lot of anglers will get into a rut with their flipping outfits, thinking they need to grind it out in the shallows with precise vertical presentations. But unless you're looking at them or they're chewing the paint off your sinkers and jigheads, a better approach might be to pick up a spinnerbait and get to chunkin' and windin'.
It's true that a lot of anglers love a spinnerbait in spring, but probably not the one I'm going to recommend. Most of them are throwing (a) something light they can keep near the surface even on a slow retrieve or (b) something heavier that they can slow roll along the bottom.
My choice is a 1/2-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait in chartreuse and white or white. I like one silver blade and one gold blade — a Colorado blade up front and a willow leaf in back — but I want smaller blades than most anglers choose at this time. Instead of the #4 or 4 1/2 blades that typically come on such a spinnerbait, I drop down a size to a #3 1/2 and 4 … or even smaller.
The smaller blades give the bait a lot less "lift." That lets me keep it under the surface even on a very fast retrieve. I can cover a lot of water with this bait, fishing it faster than the guys using bigger blades, and I get more reaction strikes because of the speed and because the fish don't get such a good look at my lure.
When the water's clear...
The spinnerbait's deadly in dingy water, but when the water's clearer — several feet of visibility — I love to throw a white Zoom Horny Toad. Some guys will tell you that the water's a little cool for a great topwater bite, but they don't know what they're missing.
Bass in clear water will climb all over that Horny Toad even when water temperatures are still in the 50s.
When bass pros talk about covering water, they're usually talking about acreage or shoreline miles, but at this time of year I like to cover water by making more casts — more presentations — in one area where I have confidence.
If the bass are there (and you should get some positive feedback pretty quickly), there are often lots of fish around. If you move too quickly through the area, you'll leave a lot of catchable fish behind. Instead make multiple presentations to the same spots and even the same piece of cover.
I've caught multiple bass off the same small piece of shallow cover at this time. Remember that just because you pull one fish off it, doesn't mean there aren't three more waiting for your lure.
Spring is a great time for bass fishing — maybe the best. It's also a great time to speed up, find a new fishing gear and really catch a bunch of fish.
Get after 'em!