If you want a lifetime best bass, one you can brag about around the dock or the fish camp, there’s no better time than right now to try to catch her.
Once the water starts to warm and the days get a little longer, the big females will start to move shallower. They’re eating and putting on weight as their eggs develop. In general, they’ll be as big as they’ll get this year. True, you might get one anytime but right now is when the odds are in your favor.
Another thing about the prespawn is that for the most part the bass haven’t been targeted by anglers for several months. As a result they’re not as smart as they will be later in the year. That makes them easier to catch. I didn’t say easy though. I said easier. No matter when you fish they won’t jump in the boat.
Beyond what I just said, the tough part about a column like this is that the waters will be different all around the country. There really isn’t a hard and fast set of rules that’ll work everywhere and under all the different weather conditions anglers will face in the early spring.
In general, the best way to find these early movers is to target their spawning areas and then work your way back out. You should look for travel paths and for obvious stopping places along it. And then, depending on how warm the water is and how far along the spring is where you’re fishing go to the bank.
I know a lot of anglers are hesitant to talk much about the bank because they think it’s better to fish out, away from it. That might be true sometimes but not now. The bank is where you’ll find the giants and where you’ll have the best chance of catching one of them. A hungry, stupid fish that’s shallow and with reproduction on her mind is a good thing if you’re an angler.
I want to put something else in here before I forget it. Don’t get locked in on any specific weight for your trophy. I know that traditionally 10 pounds is considered the holy grail among bass anglers. That might be reasonable in Florida, Texas or California. It’s not reasonable up, above the Mason Dixon Line. Big is relative to your location.
As far as lures are concerned, the only advice I can give you is that I’d start with a swimbait, a jig, a spinnerbait or a jerkbait. But those are my choices, general choices. Like everything else I said much of what lure you fish with will—or should be — determined by where you’re fishing. The same thing is true about color. For whatever reason, some colors work better in some waters. Know what works where you’re fishing.
The last thing I want to mention is that there’s no substitute for time on the water. Fish as many days as you can this spring and as many hours each of those days. That’s the one thing that will increase your odds of needing a taxidermist to make you a nice replica of your trophy.
Go get ‘em!