EARLY SEASON BASS

I have been thinking about this bass fishing column for quite some time and finally realized that the strategies I use for bass fishing never really deviate from early season to late season. I start off my mornings basically the same way no matter what time of the year or what the weather holds. Here is a typical plan-of-attack I use every time out when chasing both largemouths and smallmouths:

BEGIN SHALLOW AS POSSIBLE

Smallie

The first thing I do is break out the surface baits and go super shallow.  The most active bass on any given morning are always shallow first thing.  Forget about cloud cover or rainy days...start ultra shallow very first thing in the morning no matter what the conditions.  My start time is normally about 6 to 7:00 AM most days.       Choose your favorite surface baits such as surface-clatter baits, floating jerk baits or buzzbaits.  These loud and active baits work all season long during early hours and late hours in a typical day.  This style of fishing is actually the most exciting because the hits are violent and everything is visual. There's nothing like a 5 pound smallmouth crushing a noisy, surface bait !  Expect to miss a ton of strikes until you figure out you need to wait a few seconds before reacting to the strike.  A pause is absolutely critical when the boiling fish strikes..then set the hook hard.

BEGIN GOING DEEPER IN INCREMENTS

Usually the first hour will tell you a lot.  One of two things will happen...you will have experienced an incredible surface bite or you will be fishless.  After this short period first thing in the morning, I start to drop down and start working deeper water in increments.  My next step is to target the first "drop" which in many lakes is around 6 to 13 feet.  This of course depends on water clarity, fishing pressure, etc., but this can be figured out by time on the water.  This depth is rather a key ingredient to good bass fishing because many bass will hold at this level throughout a given day.  A lot depends on the weed growth as well.  Early Springs feature early weedgrowth and the bass will be active in these areas but if we have a late Spring the weed growth will be retarded and the weed pattterns will be very late.      This 6 to 13 foot area is my "go to" depth.  You can expect most of your fish will come from this depth as long as you make the proper presentations.  Jig N minnow is tailor-made for this depth and I like going with this bait because I catch a number of "excuse me" walleyes with my bass (I love when that happens!)  Light jigs in the 1/16th or 1/8th .oz size are ideal under most conditions.  Plastic baits such as minnow imitators or shiner imitators are good choices.  Spring of the year means rolling those baits along those depths at slow speeds.  Work about half the speed on your retrieves that you would normally use in July. Finesse is critical during early season...speed somes later.

DEEP WITH CRANKS

If you find zero action in the shallows and the off the first breaks in the 6 to 13 foot zones..it's time to go deep.  Deepwater bass can be a real challenge especially during the Spring because many of these larger females are recovering from the spawn and not real active.  I throw a variety of crankbaits that run from 8 to 16 feet and oftentimes do a lot of deep trolling in the 20 foot zones.  You can only hope for some reaction strikes from crankbaits and chances are you'll pop some fish here and there.  This deepwater pattern gets much better as the water warms into June and then the deep water gets awesome as the weedlines get determined and fish are roaming and active.

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