Everyone looks forward to those first bass outings of the spring, especially when the weather’s nice and the lengthening days bring warmth. Sometimes the fish are energized, too, and the fishing is fairly easy. But that’s often not that case, leaving anglers to scratch their heads. Rather than giving up or going to some other place in the hope that the fish will be more active there, pay closer attention to what is actually going on. Here are five spring bass fishing tips to catch more bass.
1. Look for Nature’s Signals
If you’re paying attention, nature can help steer you to spring bass action. For example, temperatures often vary at different places on a body of water for a variety of reasons.
Sunlight exposure is one reason. Northern and northwestern portions of some lakes may be warmer in the early season because of sunlight exposure, so they become places to concentrate your efforts, especially if your time is limited. Likewise, if you can pick your days or times of day to fish in early spring, opt for sunny days and afternoons because sustained sunlight helps spur on activity.
This activity boost can also happen after warm rains, which boost temperatures, especially near tributaries. In large waters, it takes a few days for warm inflows to have an effect (and it may make the water more turbid), while in smaller waters, near-tributary areas warm immediately afterward. Pay attention to wind direction as well; on large waters, a strong blow can stack a lot of warm surface water along one shore, raising temperatures and possibly drawing in forage, which may stimulate action.
2. Don’t Hurry
Sometimes in spring, especially when you get a warm day, it’s easy to get into a routine of casting and moving and covering a lot of water. That may be useful when you’re on an unfamiliar body of water, or when you haven’t been fishing for awhile and are not accustomed to what’s happening at a given location. But be mindful of the water conditions, which may still be cold. If you’re retrieving spring fishing lures quickly, and not getting reaction strikes, slow down, perhaps using plugs that suspend when they’re stopped, or jigs that are slow-hopped- or slow-crawled along the bottom.
3. What Missed Strikes Mean
If fish are just suddenly “there” when you’re retrieving a slow-moving spring bass lure, that’s an indication of a light bite and of fish that are not aggressive. If you see bass follow and swipe at a lure, or feel a bump that does not translate into a hookup, that’s also a sign of less aggression. Use a jerkbait if you’re fishing plugs. Put a trailer hook on a spinnerbait.
Short strikes and swipes are common in the spring. Change your retrieve to counter this. Here’s an example: on a recent spring day I fished for two hours with jigs and crankbaits and only caught two largemouths. I felt I should have done better and two friends in another boat were using crankbaits and had caught four fish, widely scattered, in three hours.
A change seemed necessary, so I tied on a jerkbait and fished the outer edges of bushes slowly and methodically. In a half hour I landed five bass, and was glad that I had not stubbornly kept fishing a jig.
4. Work a Productive Spot Thoroughly
That incident raises another point. All five fish were caught along a short stretch of shoreline. Anglers often catch a bass in one spot and immediately move on. Instead, work that area some more. Don’t assume that you’ve caught the only fish in that location.
5. Come Back
Also, come back to a productive spot later and try it again with a different spring fishing lure or a different color of the lure that was effective on your first go-round. Similarly, if you have had a strike or seen a fish swirl after your lure, go back to that spot an hour or more later and try again. This is especially worthwhile if the fish you missed or saw was large. Approach quietly and make certain that your first cast is right on target, because that will be your best chance.