It is late April to early May and this has been a very unseasonably wet spring. Our lakes are either full or flooded now and fishing is all over the place. The temps have been climbing and most of us in the South will have bass in all stages of the spawn. Some bass are heading to the bank to spawn while others are headed out offshore and are very much post spawners. So for me, at this time of the year, I want to put myself in a position to catch spawning fish as well as post-spawn fish.
I know you are thinking, what in the heck is he talking about. Well, allow me to explain the method to my madness. Bass will use certain areas like a gas station on the side of an interstate. It is not really where they live, but rather a place to stop and get a bite. I will try and locate these areas that will have bass coming and going on a daily basis.
Did you hear Hank Cherry at the Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville say that he had fish “coming to him?” It essentially means there will be a constant exchange of bass in that area.
Where are these areas? Good question! I will try and find a creek or ditch that leads into a spawning cove or flat. Now, look for the first grass or deepest grass coming out of the creek. If your lake doesn’t have grass then it could be the first dock, tree or other cover that bass will use this like a convenience store to feed up before spawning and as well as to feed up after spawning.
I like to appeal to these bass in these high-percentage areas with a few different lures.
1. Small to Mid-Size Swimbait - I like to use a 6th Sense 5-inch hollow body or a 4.3-inch Kietech with a belly weighted hook. I will let this bait hit bottom and slowly reel it back. I mean SLOWLY and don’t set the hook until your rod loads up. NOT when you feel the “tick,” or you will miss a lot of bites.
2. Swim Jig - I like to throw a Santone Chris McCall's Rayburn Swim Jig. My go-to size is the 1/2 ounce and I use 3 basic colors, Bass Candy, Pakes Perch and Mexican Heather. I will use a small trailer and dip the tails in Spike-It dipping dye 90 percent of the time. I retrieve this jig like a slow spinnerbait and try to twitch it when I contact grass or wood. This is a bait that can imitate a bream trying to eat bass eggs or invade the nest.
3. Small Carolina Rig - This is the perfect time for a 3/8 ounce, with an 18-inch leader Carolina Rig. I like the tried and true Zoom Lizard in basic colors like Watermelon/Red, Green Pumpkin/Magic and Junebug. Again, I will dip the tails of the Lizard in Spike-It dipping dye, either chartreuse or orange. I will drag this rig fairly slow and keep it in the strike zone as long as possible and let my lizard do the rest.
4. Frog - A lot of bass will bury up in grass and make a small circular hole to let the sun in and warm their eggs. Or, they may make a nest all the way behind a boat dock and under a low hanging cypress tree. These are both areas that are hard to get a bait in, and this is where a frog really shines. Bass will CRUSH a frog as it represents so many things they want to eat or kill to keep away from the nest. I use a white or chartreuse belly frog 90 percent of the time and use a popping frog if I can get away with it.
These hungry bass that are exiting off the interstate will be looking for a good meal. Get out there and look for some of these high-percentage bass stations that will hold fish coming and going from spawning areas, and you may encounter some of the best fishing of the spring.
Remember, if you catch one, there will likely be many more coming through, so slow down and pay attention to details or you will miss the bite. Don’t think just because you fished that spot this morning, that the fish haven’t loaded up since you left. This is a magical time of the year and it won’t last long!