One of the things you can count on every year no matter where you live is that in early to deep winter the bass are going deep. Not all of course, but many and especially the large ones. Then late winter or early in the spring they are going to move up to the "edge" of shallow water; this means that they are going to be accessible to the wily fisherman.
When it comes to baits to probe the right areas I think it comes down to only a few tried and true baits.
A spinnerbait can be fished at almost any depth and at almost any speed to cover the likely areas that the pre spawn bass might inhabit. A spinnerbait can be slow rolled, jigged bounced off of the bottom, or even ripped across the surface on a warm cloudy late winter day. Its versatility makes the spinnerbait a favored choice of lures when bass are looking for a baitfish to fatten up on. Stick with the popular bait fish colors of shad or white unless you come across murky water, then try brighter colors of yellow, orange, etc.
A crankbaits while not as versatile as a spinnerbait never less is one of the very best shad or bait fish imitators we have available. A crankbait gets its fish catching ability from the action it displays as it wobbles and clatters under the water. Crankbaits like spinnerbaits can be crawled, ripped and bounced off of the bottom or almost any cover. Bass see these movements as bait fish that have been injured or maybe sick and an easy meal.
Jerkbaits and especially suspending jerkbaits are a very good choice in the right conditions. A jerkbait can be wiggled seductively or twitched on top or just under the water or jerked or ripped at a lower depth when Bass are actively feeding. In less than perfect conditions such as post frontal conditions A suspending jerk bait can be pulled down to the depth you want and then held there or slowly pulled along in order to keep it in the strike zone. Whether bass are hanging tight to cover, chasing shad or suspending over a creek the subtle suspending jerkbait can be deadly
Wow, I guess a jig has been one of the favorites of big bass fisherman forever practically. In the early spring as the water starts to warm and the bass start to move up, the crawfish stirs and begins to feed in the shallows. Bass instinctively feed on the slow moving creature as it is an easy target and a high protein meal. There are few baits that are as versatile as the jig. Fish it deep, shallow, fast, slow, jig it off the bottom, twitch it through the limbs of a downed tree or a bush. When the bass are holding on the edge of a creek anxiously waiting to move into shallow water there is practically no substitute for slowly dragging or hopping a jig down the slope to a waiting bass, seems they just cannot pass up that easy meal.
So when you are preparing for that prespawn fishing trip, make sure you have these baits in your tacklebox. The right bait and the right condition can make the fishing trip a memorable one.
Earnie (papa) Cella