Spring is a time when many bass anglers use their eyes more than their electronics when looking for bass. Typically, bass are shallow and often located in obvious locations around cover along the shore.
That doesn’t mean electronics won’t help you catch more fish and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Luke Clausen says there are several ways he utilizes his Lowrance units to have more success in the spring.
Utilizing StructureScan is a great way to find the potential cover that bass will use when staging before spawning or building a spawning bed. Stumps, logs and anything else in the water is a potential target for spring bass.
To find these quickly, Clausen will idle through an area and will typically adjust his settings to view 30-feet on either side of the boat when searching in shallow water. Once he locates targets, he marks a waypoint and comes back later.
“Your chance of catching one right then after idling so close by is slim, so I will go through a large area and mark targets and then come back through and fish each of them,” says the 2006 Bassmaster Classic champion.
Another excellent spring location approach is finding areas with emergent lily pads and grass. Before they are visible at the surface, StructureScan can help an angler locate them.
“This is important if you are not familiar with the lake and do not know where the grass usually grows in warmer months. By idling and looking at your graph the lily pad stalks and emergent grass will stand out even if you can’t see it from above the surface,” says Clausen.
Hard Bottom Areas
While stumps, rocks, and wood are excellent areas; even slight changes in bottom hardness can play huge dividends in your spring success.
“Usually the areas with harder bottom are high spots. It may just be a six-inch difference in depth, but on a large flat the fish will congregate to those areas,” says Clausen who feels that locating these areas without electronics is next to impossible. “A slight change like that is hard to see, even when you are on your trolling motor right above it. If I am using StructureScan they stand out as white spots and you can waypoint the area and cast around it.”
Clausen adds more than just one waypoint on many targets to make sure he is in position when he returns to the area.
“If it is a log or rock or something fairly small, I will just add one waypoint on the center of it. If it is a bigger target like a flat, I will mark each side of it as well as the end of it so I can visualize where I should be casting,” he says.
When the target is bigger like roadbed or long underwater point, he adds multiple waypoints in a line so he is able to stay on the course as he fishes through the area.
One of the biggest benefits of using electronics in the spring is the quality electronic mapping available. Clausen feels mapping is crucial in the spring when looking for potential spawning areas, staging areas and more.
“You are looking for travel routes, places where they may be staging and then where they are going to go to spawn,” begins Clausen who adds that there are several things he looks for this time of year. “I look for the contour changes and look at where the contours are close together and steep and watch as the contour lines start to get further apart. This is a good indicator of where they are staging before they move up on the flats to spawn.”
Other slight changes like ditches can be magnets for bass. “If you can find flats with ditches running through them while looking at your maps, those are perfect places to fish,” adds Clausen.
DownScan and 2D Sonar
Even though the majority of bass in the spring will be relatively shallow, Clausen says there is almost always a population of fish in deeper water.
“Not all fish will be spawning at the same time so there are almost always some pre and post-spawn bass out deeper,” he says.
In these cases, he will stick with technology like DownScan and traditional 2D sonar to locate fish.
“A lot of times, especially on clear water lakes, the bass will suspend this time of year. It is easy to use DownScan and 2D sonar to locate fish suspended on bluff walls, bridges or near standing timber. This is a more vertical approach and I will drop my bait right down to fish I see since they are not as spooky as fish in shallow water,” he says.
By taking advantage of technology, you can locate more bass by finding prime locations during the spring. Staging areas, spawning locations and more can all be found with the help of your electronics.