Tactics for Huge Prespawn Bass
By: Steve VonBrandt
One of the most effective ways to catch huge Prespawn bass in
lakes and rivers are Lipless crankbaits. These baits are especially
effective when the water temperature is between 49 and 58 degrees,
especially in stained or muddy water in lakes and ponds, but it
also works in the rivers also. Some of the techniques outlined
below will help you catch bigger bass all over the country in
the early spring starting in march, and peaking in April.
TYPES OF BAITS
There are are variety of lipless crankbaits on the market
that catch bass, but in the spring, in most lakes and ponds,
in the Northeast, the Rat-L-Trap by bill Lewis Lures, the
Rattlin' Rapala, and the Viva Vibe, are some of the best.
All lipless crankbaits have a different sound. Some are
much louder than others, and will produce when some other
quieter baits won't. At other times, the quitter rattling
baits will produce more. You just have to experiment with
several baits until you find the ones that are producing
best in the particular body of water you're fishing in.
Sometimes the same baits, in the same size, by the same
company, make slightly different sounds, that can be better
than the other, Experimentation is the only way to find
which bait works the best. Some baits won't run as true
at different speeds, and they turn sideways a little more
than others, so you just have to watch them in the water,
and find the best ones.
The hooks should always be changed to a premium hook system such
as Gamakatsu or Owner or Eagle Claw Premium. There are many other
great hooks, but I prefer these. Most of your lipless crankbaits
should be used in a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce size, but recently, bigger
bass in the Northeast and in Florida have hit the bigger Slat
Water Traps in the 3/4 to 1 ounce sizes.
COLORS OF BAITS
The best colors for the spring, especially if you have a lot of
Crawfish in the lake, are red, red/orange, and brownish/orange.
Some have spots on them and these are very effective. The standard
Chrome, and Chrome with a blue back, and Chrome and Red, have
worked especially well for the larger bass.
If the water is extremely stained to muddy, we found that
the red, and the chartruese/brown combinations work well
in this kind of situation also. If you have a lot of bluegill
in the area, and less crawfish or shad, then the blugill/Suncracker
patterns work very well.
The primary forage in the lakes are the best patterns, unless
you know that many anglers are aware of this, and are using
these colors also. Then switching to unconventional patterns
can fool some of the wary bigger bass.
Most people just cast the baits out and reel them straight
in. While this will always catch some bass, there are more
specialized methods that trigger strikes from the bigger
bass. Cast the Rat-L-Traps out, and depending on the depth
of the water, count them down to the level of the fish before
starting the retrieve, and if it is a sandy and/or gravel/rocky
type of bottom, let them sink to the bottom, then slowly
raise the tip of the rod till you feel the lure vibrating,
reeling the slack up a little slowly, then lower the rod
tip, and do it again.
Many times they will hit as it is on the bottom, and first starts
to be lifted up. If these techniques don't work in a few hours,
use a slight pumping action of the rod as you reel, keeping contact
with the bait. If it hits a rock, weeds, or other structure, hesitate
a second, and then rip it off quickly, and reel it in with a steady
You can also yo-yo the bait similar to a spoon or Spinnerbait
in deeper water near points and drop-offs, which can be extremely
effective in colder water or on inactive fish that are suspended.
Most of the time in water below 58 degrees they hit very mushy,
like grass or leaves, or even like a stick is on it, but most
of the time it is a bass.
As they get close to the boat they will see you and make a dash
for the trolling motor, and down to deeper water, sometimes even
breaking the surface to throw the lure. They bass have to played
very carefully as lipless crankbaits come out of the bass's mouth
much more easily than you might imagine.
Most of the bass will be in the shallower water off the flats,
near deeper water, rip-raps, if available, or any place where
there is baitfish and or cover near the North shore or bay, close
to food sources, near where they are going to spawn.
I like to use sinning gear for the smaller 1/4 ounce baits, and
I use baitcast gear for the larger 3/4 to 1 1/2 ounce baits. I
usually use a 7 foot spinning rod in med action so as not to pull
the bait from their mouths, usually a S- Glass rod, or a G.Loomis
In the baitcasters, I use a 7 foot, med to Med/Heavy rod, with
a high speed reel, but many people prefer a good reel in a 5:0:1
or 5:3:1 gear ration. I always use Spiderline super mono in 10-12
pound test, but 8 pound test is preferred by many.
Stren is also a good line for this. Fan cast the baits in as many
directions as possible in the prime areas such as the mouths of
the back bays with creeks, where grasses and riprap, are on a
harder bottom, and you will start picking up some of these monsters
this spring. A good scent on the baits, such a Yum in Crawfish
scent, can't hurt either.