Any time you are fishing unfamiliar waters you should try a search bait to find bass quicker.
A search bait is any lure you can use at a fast clip to help you cover water quickly. Some of the pros’ favorite lures for covering water quickly include spinnerbaits, buzz baits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and walking topwater plugs such as a Heddon Zara Spook.
Even when you fish a familiar body of water, a search bait comes in handy if you have to fish vast expanses of gravel or mud flats, long stretches of aquatic vegetation and long points that slowly taper off into deep water.
The time of year also determines when you should use a search bait. When bass are in the prespawn mode, the fish can range in depth from 1 to 20 feet, so running search baits such as a medium-diving crankbait or a suspending stickbait can probe the various water columns and help you pinpoint the exact depth of the bass.
A deep-diving crankbait is a good search lure during the postspawn and into early summer when bass move out to extensive stretches of ledges or long points. Fall is another prime time to search for bass with medium- or deep-diving crankbaits. Bass leave their deep-water summertime haunts and start chasing shad then so the crankbait is ideal for finding bass moving along their migration route to the shallows.
Waking a spinnerbait is an effective way to search for largemouth bass throughout fall and into early winter. The same tactic also works for smallmouth bass throughout most of the year in the South and during the warmer months in the North.
The weather can also dictate when to throw search baits. Bass are most active when weather remains stable for two or more days and right before a storm, so searching for bass with fast-moving lures will work best then. Throwing search baits after a cold front passes through can be futile because bass become lethargic then and will ignore any baits buzzing by them.
I also like to use search baits during the spawn to find bedding bass. I throw a Zara Spook or a soft plastic jerkbait along pea gravel flats and try to coax spawning bass into showing themselves. When a bass boils up and misses my search bait, I follow up with a soft plastic bait to throw to the nesting fish.
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