Photos by Jen Edgar
Spring is on its way and everyone is excited; because it means an end to cabin fever. You have put the time in before you hit the water, looking over many maps, purchasing the newest lures and now it is time to catch that record bass.
Spring is the time of year when bass are in a feeding frenzy, getting ready to go through another spawning cycle. It is also tournament time and you are feeling prepared. However, as most of us often learn, spring is filled with forces of Mother Nature that we cannot control. Cold fronts, high winds, heavy rains and high muddy water, not to mention intense angler pressure are some of the challenges springtime fishermen can face. These are the frustrations of spring, knowing what to watch out for and associated tips will help you overcome these tough days.
Colder weather typically slows the bite down; however most fish won’t scatter. When searching for fish, go to where you caught or saw fish in stable weather conditions previously and just realize you need to adjust your speed and expectations. Those fish are most likely still there, or close by.
Slowing down your presentation and/or possibly changing lures will aid in catching your fish. Tubes are highly popular in this situation. If fish were already shallow before the cold front, they will likely go into hiding into the closest heavy cover. Looking for weed beds and flooded brush close to spawning flats is a safe bet. Keep in mind; bites will most likely come later in the day after the sun has been out for a bit and the water has warmed up. Don’t get discouraged, if you don’t start catching fish until mid-day.
You have two options when it comes to wind, tough it out, or avoid it, if that is even a possibility. Wind can be beneficial or detrimental, learning to judge each situation as you are in it is vitally important. In clear lakes, wind can help; because it reduces light penetration, enabling bass to judge the authenticity of your lure. In this situation, jerkbaits, lipless crankbaits, swimbaits and spinnerbaits are popular. On the other hand, if wind makes the water too muddy, it can warm up the water temperature. Fishing mud lines with the same lures can produce for you, or you have the option of going deep in hopes of clearer water.
HEAVY RAINS/HIGH MUDDY WATER
Warm rain livens up the aquatic ecosystem after the cold; this brings out crawdads, which can result in a shallow bass bite and it also brings out more activity from baitfish. This allows you to be more active in your pursuit of bass, throwing a crankbait or spinnerbait, covering water. In cold rains, using baits that soak in the target zone like jigs or tubes are best, to imitate slow moving crawdads. Also, sometimes bass will suspend over where the old shoreline was before the rains caused high water. Look for deep, sloping banks to find these suspended bass. They will most likely be holding at the old shoreline depth. The thought of tossing out an Alabama rig comes to mind here, although most any bait for suspending bass will work.
Don’t forget everyone else is excited to get out on the lake too! This is a problem faced in almost every tournament as well. You can either find untouched areas or join the rest in a hunt for the winning sack of fish amongst your competitors.
The most important technique in fishing highly pressured spots is to know what others are doing, and do something different. Bass can quickly learn to avoid lures they get overexposed to. Changing your presentation can increase your odds of catching fish behind others greatly. A change in presentation can be using a shallow running crankbait when the guy in front of you is throwing a spinnerbait. It may also help to change speeds, colors, and techniques that others are using.
STINGY BEDDING BASS
All bass in a given lake will not spawn at the same time. Every body of water will always have fish in pre spawn, spawn and post spawn modes. View this as a good thing; because this situation allows you to fish your strength.
Many of us would get discouraged if a cold night draws our tournament winning 10-pound-plus female off her bed; don’t worry, bets are she moved to the nearest heavy cover. Check back later after the sun warms the water, she will most likely move back.
Don’t give up! Sometimes it helps to take a moment and collect your thoughts; so you can accept the conditions you are given and determine your best plan of action. Remember back to previous tournaments, or practice days, or even this article. Most times the simplest change yields the best results. Check your spots repeatedly, making milk runs throughout the day. Don’t get discouraged, because every situation has a solution. Make the best of a bad situation; after all, you are out fishing, it could be worse.