This is a crazy time of the year, and this has been a crazy year. That makes for a wild combination. Depending on where you fish, and the recent weather in your parts, the bass might be anywhere and doing anything — late winter pattern, prespawn, on the beds or postspawn. It’s hard to find them, but it can be done with a little research and by becoming more observant.
If you want to get started before you go to the water, you should look around on the internet and social media. There’s lots and lots of information about local conditions to be had.
You might see a guy holding up a 3-pounder with a big belly that he caught the day before. It doesn’t take a genius to think prespawn at that point. Or maybe the bass he’s holding up has a sunken belly. That tells you she already spawned. You can also look at the background of any photos posted to see where the angler was when the photo was taken.
You do have to be careful, though. There’s a lot of nonsense posted on the internet and on social media. And some of the people who fake that stuff are really good. They can make you believe. If you don’t know the person who made the post, think about what they said and see if it meets the common sense test. Don’t fall for garbage.
The other thing you can do — and this is the best — is pay attention to what’s going on when you’re fishing. Go to the bank and look around. Do you see males up shallow? Do you see females on the beds? What about vacant beds? Is there nothing of interest going on? The answer to those questions will tell you a lot.
You also need to know where you’re looking. It’s common to find postspawn bass in one area of a big reservoir and prespawn in another. Or they could be spawning on north or west banks only. Not all the bass will be doing the same thing.
And, it’s important to pay careful attention to any bass you catch. Are their bellies white? If so, they’re probably right down on the bottom. If they’re pale, they probably just came up from deep water. That information is critical if you want to learn what they’re doing.
No matter how much information you have, however, you have to pick the right search bait. You’ll need something that’s universal in its appeal and that can be fished deep, shallow, in open water or around heavy cover. Dozens of lures fit that description.
My two favorites are the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Swim Jig and the Tour Grade Rage Blade Swim Jig. I vary their weight, running depth and speed until I find what the bass want.
This can be a tough time of the year to figure them out. But, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as some anglers make it. And even if it does get a little tough, what other option do you have? You can’t catch ‘em if you can’t find ‘em.