Spring is my favorite time of year to bass fish because things change very quickly once the water starts to warm up after the winter cool down. The fishing has progressively been picking up and the bite is in full-swing right now. Although there are many lures or techniques that will catch fish, I try to cover water looking for the most aggressive bass using reaction lures. Most of our Arizona lakes have Threadfin or Gizzard Shad in them which bass love, so locating bait is the big key. You find the bait; you find the fish. It is that simple.
The shad spawn takes place early Spring when water temperatures are 64 to 68 degrees. The shad spawn does happen around the country, but the timing will vary depending on where you live. In Arizona this usually happens in March – April. You will often see the shad flickering or moving in massive schools along banks or in open water often being corralled by bass, crappie or other predatory fish. Understanding your electronics and locating bait is a plus, but most of your shad will be pushed along the shorelines at some point which is easier to target.
Here are my lures of choice:
Crankbaits – These are a great way to cover water and deflect off cover. In addition, Crankbaits matching shad in size make it one of my personal favorites.
Spinnerbaits – Spinnerbait can cover water quickly and they draw attention with the flash of the blades by giving off the appearance of a small school of bait. This is a great lure to fish around rock, wood and other vegetation due to its versatility and ability to avoid snagging up.
Topwater – I prefer a popper which looks like an injured baitfish and it is an easy target for a hungry bass. This presentation will draw bass up to the surface, but it really excels when you see bass pushing shad and busting them on the surface. This is one of the most exciting strikes to watch.
Swimbait – The versatility of a swimbait to work from shallow to deep simply by slowing and speeding up retrieve makes it a must-have during the Spring. The swimbait looks like a shad or baitfish which makes it an easy target if placed near a feeding bass.
Senko/Stickbait – This lure really catches big fish and when conditions call for it, many will debate it as being one of the most effective lures in the springtime. It can be rigged several ways, but a simple Wacky Rig style does the most damage. It falls slowly to the bottom appearing as an injured bluegill or baitfish which fish cannot stand, especially when they are sluggish or not willing to chase shad. It is also extremely effective when dropped near a spawning bed because the fish are very aggressive in defending the spawning nest from predators. Because the Wacky Rig comes through sparse cover, grass, wood, and can even be skipped under docks, it is a good choice that produces well when placed on target where other lure presentations simply cannot go.
Have these five lures ready to go if you head out to any of our Arizona lakes over the next month, and with a good effort you are sure to have some fun action on your next outing.