Spring fishing is equal-opportunity time for all bass anglers. During this season, bass are feeding heavily at every depth and attack a variety of lures as the water warms.
Action lures such as crankbaits and spinnerbaits produce most of the time, but when the water temperature lingers below 60 degrees and during cold-front situations later in the spring, bass prefer slower presentations. While soft plastics or jigs work well in these situations, you can still catch bass on hard plastic lures throughout all phases of spring weather and water conditions.
Here are three techniques you can try to catch bass from top to bottom on action lures during the prespawn and spawning stages of spring fishing.
Banging The Bottom
For the slowest presentation when spring fishing in water below 60 degrees you can drag a jig and plastic chunk or craw along the bottom, but you can also keep in contact with the bottom retrieving a medium-diving crankbait in crawfish colors at a steady pace. Weighting the crankbait with adhesive lead strips or tape will help keep the crankbait close to the bottom even when the lure is paused for a couple of seconds after banging it off rocks.
Slowly crank the weighted crankbait along the bottom so it bangs into rocks and kicks up silt, similar to a crawfish scurrying along the bottom. Your retrieve should vary depending on the rocks you are targeting. If you are fishing chunk rocks, run the crankbait at a steady pace along the rocks. However if the area has occasional rock piles, stop the lure when it hits those rocks.
The weighted crankbait technique works best when bass are staging on main lake chunk rock banks during the prespawn. The crankbait pattern usually lasts until the water temperature climbs to 60 degrees, but it can still be effective in certain situations once the water warms. A cold front that drops the water temperature five or six degrees causes bass to move away from the bank where the crankbait becomes the most effective lure again for these fish.
Chugging On Top
Several years ago, I learned a prespawn topwater tactic while fishing with a friend at Lake of the Ozarks. The water temperature was about 57 degrees and I could see bass dart out from under docks to look at my soft plastic jerkbaits but the fish would reject my offerings.
Despite the cool water, my friend tied on a topwater chugger and immediately started catching bass. The keys to his technique were fishing the topwater lure in clear water and retrieving the chugger slowly without making it splash.
During our outing, bass were suspended under boat docks in pockets along spawning banks. The fish were getting ready to spawn, but the cool, cloudy weather that day discouraged any move to the bank. The darker skies made bass more aggressive in the clear water but were still leery about certain offerings. So my partner prevented spooking larger bass by making long casts.
Calm water was another key because it helped the bass locate the slow-moving lure on the surface. My partner barely twitched the chugger so it made small spits of water on the surface rather than the chugging or plopping noise the lure usually makes.
This tactic also works well when bedding bass ignore your tube bait or jig. Rather than continually throwing at the visible fish, twitch the chugger slowly around any nearby cover to trigger strikes from bigger bass hiding in those targets.
Suspending Stickbaits For Spawners
During the spawn, a suspending stickbait is another hard-plastic lure that will catch bass. It is effective for spawning bass because the lure’s shape imitates a predator fish better than a tube bait does.
The imposing profile of a stickbait makes the lure appear more threatening to bass guarding a spawning bed. If you have a bass that is really protective of the nest, a lot of times they will take a small bait like a tube or finesse worm, suck it in and blow it out before you can set the hook. If you put an imposing bait like the stickbait in front of the fish or right over the bed, even if the bass swims up and grabs it, the fish can’t spit it out quickly because it gets a hold of three sets of treble hooks.
A key to catching spawning bass on a suspending stickbait is to get the lure to stay in the strike zone. When you see a bass on the nest, throw the stickbait past the fish and drag it to the nest. Then let the lure hover over the bed to force the nesting fish into attacking the intruder. If the bass continues to ignore the lure, trigger a strike by shaking your rod to make the lure tremble like a frightened baitfish.
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