Spring Crankbait Fishing

BY: Scott M. Petersen

When you are talking locating pre-spawn bass in the spring it is kind of like throwing a dart at a dart board, if it is me throwing the dart that dart could land anywhere on the board. That is kind of how pre-spawn bass fishing is; pre-spawn bass can be located anywhere from 15ft or shallower, so to get on these bass you are going to have to cover some water.  Weather at this time of the season will also play a big part in dictating where these bass will be, what 3 days of a warming sun can create, one day of severe cold can tear apart. So when the bass can be anywhere in the water column from deep to shallow where do you start?

One of the best ways to find early season bass is to tie on a crankbait and go to work. When I hit the water for the early spring bite I have a few reliable Spro crankbaits tied on my rods to help me cover all the water that is needed. These baits make up what I call my spring “seek and destroy” collection. These are the crankbaits that I depend on to find and catch bass in the spring pre-spawn and spawn period.

Spring Crankbait Fishing

Little John MD and Fat Papa 55
When the bass are heading up from the deeper water that they spent the winter in it is agreed that the first bait that you should be fishing would be a Spro McStick. Bass when moving up from deeper water are keying in on food that is located above them making the McStick a prime bait choice to tie on and fish. As the water starts to warm this will draw the bass towards the shallower water to do two things, one is put on the feed bag and two, look for locations to spawn when the water temps get right.

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When the fish move from the deeper water and get to that 12 to 15ft range it is time to switch from a stickbait to a crankbait and my go to crankbaits for this tactic are Spro’s Little John MD and Fat Papa 55.  Each bait has a different action that complements each other. The Little John MD has a tighter side to side wiggle when fished and the Fat Papa has more of a side to side roll that makes it a good producer to throw in the spring.

One of the prime bass locations to look for at this time of the season will be points, bass will key in on these. Points are simple to find and will be used as highways for the bass to get from deep water to the shallows and back out again.  Take a closer look at the point with a Humminbird Side Imaging unit; see if you cannot find something that will hold the bass when not moving up or down the point. This holding spot can be used as a stopping point; examples of this could be a rock pile, brush pile or a weed edge if the lake has a weed population.

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Whatever the cover is make sure that your get your crankbait to make contact with the cover that you are fishing. Once the bait breaks free from the cover, try to stop the bait giving the bass a chance to key in on the bait and strike. One trick here to keep your bait in the strike zone longer try to put a Suspend Drop or Suspend Strip on the bottom of the bait. This will make the bait hold at the depth that you stop the bait at and keep it in the strike zone longer, in fact you can give the crankbait a few soft jerks like you would a stickbait enticing a strike from the cover.

Equipment for springtime crankbait fishing I generally use a 7’6” to 7’11’ medium action baitcasting rod that is teamed with a 4.7:1 or 5.2:1 reel that is filled with Sunline Reaction FC 10lb test line.

spring crankbait fishing

Aruku Shad and Fat John
With the warming spring the bass will move shallower as the water warms and you will have to make the move right there with them if you want to keep catching bass. This will also call for a tactic and bait change. Covering water will be even more important now as the bass hit the shallower water they will start to disperse, they will not be as concentrated as when they were on the points waiting for the shallower water to warm. One of the best baits to throw at this time of the season is a Spro Aruku Shad. Spro has introduced a new size for 2013 in the 65 size (1/2oz) so Spro now have an Aruku Shad size to cover all of your fishing needs, pick a size that matches the conditions that you are fishing in. If fishing in sparse weed conditions throw either a 65 or 75 sizes (1/2oz or 5/8oz size). Later in the year when faced with fishing in thicker weeds go down to an Aruku Shad Jr. this bait weighs in at 3/8oz, another note do not write off the 85 size for fishing deeper open water in fact give this a try in deeper water casting parallel to the point or weedline when the bass are staring to move up into the shallows.

The key to fishing the Aruku Shad during this time of the season is to cover water. Make casts towards the shore and in-front of you parallel to the boat. When you make fish contact slow down and fish the area, chances are if there is one bass there will be more.

Equipment I use for fishing the Aruku Shad is a 7’11” medium action baitcaster matched with a 5.2:1 or 6.3:1 baitcaster spooled with Sunline Reaction FC 12lb test line. There are some that are using braid for this tactic so keep that in mind as an option.

spring crankbait fishing

Another bait I always have tied on one of my rods at this time of the season is a Spro Fat John. I throw this bait too see what you can get it to bang off of. The more you can make this bait make contact with the cover you are fishing the more bass you are going to trigger to bite. This is a full contact sport with this bass if you are not banging into the cover with this bait you are missing out.  When fishing the Aruku Shad I look for shallower rocky areas if that is the case pick up the Fat John and go to work. This bait excels when you have shallow rocks and early season bass that are on the feed. When fishing the Fat John I will use the same equipment that I used when fishing the Aruku Shad.

So when you hit the water this spring make sure you have the Spro Spring 4 with you. They will allow you to cover the water from the shallows down to 12ft deep. The combination of these baits will keep you in the ball game all spring.