Its everyone’s favorite time of the year in the Midwest. The snows have melted, trees have started to get some green on them, turkeys can be heard gobbling trying to find a mate, and birds start singing songs of warmth. If you’re a bass fisherman you know what these tell tale signs of spring mean. Great fishing.
Spring is the transition of water that has been previously frozen solid for what could have been months on end to soft liquid that you can once again fish without having to put 4 layers of clothes on. Lethargic fish start to become more active in preparing for the harshness that is called the spawn. They feed on anything and everything they can fit in their mouths. It’s this time of year that you really can’t do anything wrong. They are more active and willing to chase and smash a lure they think is a good meal.
Depending on where you live in the Midwest water temperatures will range with most of the bass starting to get active around 50 degrees. One thing to keep in mind when waiting for warmer water is that a warm rain will heat water up quicker than a stretch of warm days. So if you get a day of rain with temps in the 50’s I would be running to the water as fast as I can. Spring rains can also create high water situations. While some people view this as a bad thing I for one welcome it. Bass will sometimes swim to a shallow flooded flat where the water will be fresh and usually very warm. The reason they do this is because that’s where the baitfish are going to be as well. Especially crawfish that have been flooded out of their homes.
There are two main bait patterns that I will fish in the spring. The first being a crawfish and the second being a shad pattern ( usually a Tennessee shad). The type of lure will not vary much either.
Let’s start with the crawfish.
Soft plastic or hard doesn’t matter with this bait. You will find crawfish in almost everybody of water across the Midwest and they are a staple of the bass diet. I like to key on rock structures when fishing craws. The reasoning behind this is that those rocks are holding heat which attract the crawfish which in turn the bass will hone in on. Gravel points, rock dams on smaller lakes, anywhere relatively shallow that there are rocks you can fish a crawfish. Take a look online at some videos of live crawfish to see how they move to get an idea of how you would like to fish them. You can do a slow steady retrieve or some quick hops.
Now let’s go with the shad.
Here is where I keep it simple. The only word I know is crankbait. Crankbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits. I will fish them through the whole water column until I find those fish. Round bill or square bill don’t matter to me. Of course I will use the square bill around wood cover and round bill around rocks but that’s my preference. The biggest tip I can give anyone is don’t be afraid to beat that crank against everything you can find. Yes you’re going to beat them up and might break a few but you will be rewarded. Cast it out and let it sit till the ripples dissipate. Start the retrieve hard and get it down to its diving depth. When you feel it hit that cover. STOP! Let it sit for a second. Then do it again. The bait hitting those rocks or submerged tree is something a bass can’t resist.
Like I said earlier there is no wrong bait to use in the spring. These fish are feeding heavily and will eat just about anything to fatten up. So try out whatever you like. These patterns are just what I have the most luck with in my experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment and most of all have fun and enjoy the challenge.