With the weather warming up the big bass are on the move. They had a long cold winter and now they are on the move. Coming up from the deeper water of their winter homes, the bass are staging up on the pre-spawn grounds now. They are trying to gain as much weight as possible for the spawn. Because of this, it’s the time of the year to find the giants and catch your new personal best.
Depending on where you live, anytime from late February to late April is the pre-spawn for your local lake and river. These fish have spent all winter in deeper more stable water, either suspending or on the bottom not being very active. Now that the water is warming up to the mid 50 – 60 degrees, these fish are now moving again. Big bass are going to areas where they can move into shallow warmer water during the day to feed, but can easily get back to deeper more stable waters for the cold nights.
For spring, using big baits fished slow is usually the ticket for a big pre-spawn bass. These large lures have a big “look at me” effect. Fish are opportunistic, so if there’s a chance they can get some food they’ll usually try to take a bite out of it. So, with these, big girls are trying to pack on the weight and these big lures work. It’s like you are dragging a big “steak” in front of them with a “Eat Me” sign on it.
Big Baits for Big Spring Bass
The name of the game with big lures in the spring is covering as much water as possible. Because while the big fish do need to eat, they are not bottomless holes. Fish tend to rest a couple of days after a big meal and not feed during that time. Or, if you are fishing a highly pressured lake, they might just be wary of such big lures and the heavy leaders you have to use with them.
So, you have to cast as much as possible anywhere you think might hold some fish. A few spots I’d recommend for you to target would be: big rock structures, rain runoffs/feeder creeks, and sandy shorelines. The big rock structure will absorb heat from the sun and hold onto it better. This keeps the water around them slightly warmer which the bass want. Rain Runoffs/Feeder Creeks both are usually warmer than the water of the lake itself attracting fish to them. Big bass will also sit there waiting for either food to be pushed in or feeding on baitfish that pass by there. The same goes for sandy shorelines, they absorb heat better and attract shad and other bait. This attracts the bass trying to feed on them.
These spots can help you out in finding the big bass, but even still. You can fish for hours without a bite somedays, but this is a quality vs quantity game. You’re trying to find that one bass, that trophy fish. So, some days you will go home without getting a bite, but that’s just the nature of things.
Rigging for Big Bass
You are casting 1 oz – 4 oz lures so a heavier setup will be needed. You don’t need to go crazy with it either. I use an old Abu Garcia Ambassador on a heavier in-shore rod for throwing the largest baits. Mainly because of cast-ability it’s spooled with 50 lb braid and has a 30 lb fluorocarbon leader on it. If you cast and get a bird’s nest with a large lure it can easily snap a lighter leader. Then, you can say goodbye to the $10 – $40 lure as it disappears into the water.
For lures, the prices can be anything from $5 to $300, but honestly, you can get away with sticking to the cheap end of the lures easily. You don’t need a $300 handmade glide bait when you can stuff like the River2Sea S-Waver 168s for $19. Or a pack of Z Man Mag Swimz for $8 a three-pack. Yes, more expensive lures are very nice and look good, but the results they give are diminishing returns. Just because they cost 5 to 10 times more does not mean they catch fish that much better. That’s on you and how much time you spend out there.
Selection-wise for lures, I’d recommend some bigger glide baits, jointed swimbaits, and some big soft plastic swimbaits. These baits work great for trying to weed out smaller fish, but that doesn’t mean you’re only going to catch big bass on them. Other good options for spring pre-spawn fishing are the classic jig and craw as well as Alabama Rigs. These options will have more bites but don’t particularly target big fish, not to say big bass don’t hit them.