It’s spring and the water is warming up. It’s almost that time of year for some of the best chances to catch that lake or even state record fish you’re poised to get this year. In some of the US, It’s that time of the year to set that record. Yeah, I’m talking about the Pre-Spawn/ Spawn season. Now, I haven’t set any records myself but I have been traveling two countries, and El Paso isn’t known for record-setting bass.  However, I have hooked into and lost, and landed, my fair share of lunkers in spring, and I did it all from shore. How? It’s easy. Go small.

1Picking a Bait the Bass Love

Nice little catch

“Big baits catch big fish” is a tried and true statement, but not in spring. Spring bass are either sluggish and hiding, or cruising looking for spawning positions; let’s be honest here, even you would take the easy meal for minimum effort (yeah you, going to Taco Bell 4 times a week). So, instead of tossing that huge Jerkbait you saw a guy use once at Falcon Lake on that show, try thinking small Jerkbait or even a small jig head.

Why go small? In the early spring, bass fish are lethargic from the cold water temps or are sitting on beds protecting eggs. Speaking to lethargic, it’s the same idea of you eating that four-day-old pizza; it’s an easy meal.  In regards to protecting beds, you aren’t going to fight a grizzly bear without a gun (Okay, Chuck Norris might, but he’d win, you wouldn’t.) Rest easy; a bass isn’t going to attack a full grown Muskie if it can swim off and spawn later in the year. So how do I get that bite using small lures or soft plastics? Let’s start with Jerkbaits

2Using Jerkbait

3.5-pound Smallmouth caught on a Rapala Original Floating Minnow- Perch at a creek mouth. Sackets Harbor, NY (Lake Ontario) Early April 2016.

A small Jerkbait, like a 3-4in floating original Rapala minnow, being twitched over rocky drop-offs and shoals is a killer for pre-spawning bass.  Twitch the Jerkbait on a slow cadence (I like to do mine as twitch, twitch, pause, pause, repeat.)  Allow the bait to float to the top slowly, the pause is essential, a struggling baitfish mimics this action by quickly trying to flee and then having to pause to rest, and this action drives cruising bass crazy.

Next, use a non-weighted Texas rigged soft plastic. I prefer to use a Yum! Crawdad, or a 4-6in Senko worm in green pumpkin and black flake or green pumpkin and red flake. Cast these towards cover in creeks, or on steep drop-offs and let the bait slowly sink (count to 5 or 10) then begin to jerk the bait back to you while reeling and let the bait slowly sink again.  Big bass will watch these baits fall and more often than not, hit the bait during the fall.  Don’t rush to set the hook, wait until you feel the weight of the fish load onto your rod and then give a nice sweep to set the hook.

3Using a Jig Head

Bass get defensive on beds. This Largemouth didn’t like the jighead and curly tail grub that came through its bed April 2016. Sackets Harbor, NY (Lake Ontario)

Finally, use jig heads.  I have found, especially here in West Texas, that a 1/8oz- 3/8oz jig head with a crappie lure works.  I use Strike King Rage Tail grubs in brown with chartreuse tails or Bobby Garland baby shad in a key-lime pie.  The baby shads work the best swimming while quickly twitching your rod from the 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock. The flash of the lure on a chartreuse jig head mimics a struggling minnow amazingly.  I’ve gotten some big bites working it this way.  As for the grub, cast and let the jig head sink and then raise the rod from 10-12 o’clock and reel the slack and let it sink and sit again.

Yes, bigger is always better, but for those shy bass sitting on beds, or fat and lethargic bass cruising to a bed site; the smaller bait will get you more bites in the spring. While everyone else is throwing a large spinner or Jerkbait, you’ll be hooking more quality fish.

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