Spring has sprung here in the south, and it’s very near in the north. Along with the blooming flowers and large amounts of pollen in the air, everyone with a fishing rod is on the water. The excessive angling pressure can have a negative effect on your fishing adventures. Beating the extraordinary amount of angling pressure this time of year is difficult, but possible if you consider a few options.
The most obvious is to find fishing locations that are isolated or difficult to reach. Most anglers do not want to work to catch bass. So finding areas that require extra navigation or poling over a shallow area will help you find bass that have not seen a crowd of anglers. I’ve gone as far as forcing my boat between standing trees, over log jams, or removed seat pedestals to fit in culverts or under limbs to find remote areas. There are fishing areas that we dream about behind all the obstructions others are unwilling to conquer.
If you don’t have the option of digging a path to secret waters and are forced to fish with the crowd, the trick can be to do something different. Downsizing baits, upsizing baits, or using excessive retrieve speeds (faster or slower) can increase your chances.
For example, when the word is out that the bass are easily caught with spinnerbaits, it doesn’t take long before every bass in the area can tell you the make and model of the spinnerbait that is whirling by. In this situation, I’ll do one of three things. I like to start by casting my favorite spinnerbait and varying retrieving speeds to see if I can get them to bite. If this is only slightly effective, I’ll take the speed that did produce strikes and expand on it. If I could get an occasional strike by slow rolling my spinnerbait, I’ll up the weight and blade size of my spinnerbait so I can slow the retrieve even more and keep my bait in the same water column. If I have better success with faster retrieves, I’ll add smaller blades to the same size spinnerbait, allowing a faster retrieve in the same water column. By going to the extremes in retrieving speed, you are showing bass a new look that will increase the number of strikes you get.
Changing your baits size will also allow you to present a bait choice that is different. Sometimes downsizing is the ticket, especially in the spring. All aquatic species are reproducing this time of year, there are a lot of small offerings in the water for bass to eat; by downsizing you may be ‘matching the hatch’ more than you realize. When upsizing your bait, keep these same reproducing species in mind. Take shad for example, if you determine bass are feeding on shad, only the largest and strongest shad survived the winter and available forage in the spring. So, larger replications of a shad will appear more natural to a bass.
Another option is to throw out all the dock talk. If the majority of anglers are throwing spinnerbaits, try a crank bait or swim jig. A different wobble, less flash, color variations can all trigger strikes. I’ve found in high angling pressure situations bass will do one of two things; they suck up tight to cover, or suspend way off the cover in open water. The fish suspending in open water are very difficult to catch. Your best chance at catching suspending bass is a topwater bait in low light conditions. Because the suspended bass are so difficult to catch, I elect to hit the cover. I’ll crash crank baits and jigs into the cover. With so much angling pressure, the feeding strike is less likely than the reaction strike and by running your bait into the cover and creating deflections you will elicit reaction strikes.
Bass fishing in the spring can be extremely rewarding and the reason so many anglers are on the water. When dealing with tremendous fishing pressure, find or do something different, stay confident in your choice and catch some big bass. Consider some of these options the next time you’re on a crowded lake and enjoy the rewards spring bass fishing has to offer.